Glasses from around the world
How eyewear styles are influenced by where they come from
Your glasses say a lot about you. And that’s why the perfect glasses are ones which reflect your personality. We all have our own sense of style, so believe it or not one of the best places to start when you’re choosing glasses is to look at where they were designed and made. You might think that’s crazy; “who cares… as long as they suit me?” But actually, you will suit lots of different shapes and colours. But that’s different to whether they suit you.
In this blog we’re going to explore how the eyewear designed in various regions of the world reflects the places they come from. I’m going to select the main 4 regions of eyewear design, and I bet you’re drawn to one more than the others… let’s find out!
Italy – Luxury Fashion
Frame by Safilo (Italy) – one of the largest eyewear manufacturers in the world
“Italian fashion can be connected to the most generalized concept of ‘Made in Italy’, a term expressing excellence of creativity and craftsmanship. Italian luxury goods are renowned for their high quality and the elegance and refinement that goes into making them up, as well as for the guarantee of quality materials.” – Wikipedia
With this in mind, it’s fair to say that Italian glasses have their foundation in quality and luxury. Neither as eccentric as eyewear from France, nor as subtle as eyewear from Scandinavia, Italy’s eyewear is classic yet beautifully made.
Frame by MODO from Milan
According to ‘Eyewear – A Visual History’ by Moss Lipow (you can find this book on our waiting area coffee table), “Glasses were invented in Florence, Italy by a monk named Salvino degli Armati”. So the Italians have the longest history of craftsmanship when it comes to eyewear.
Giorgio Valmassoi are one of several family-owned workshops producing eyewear by hand in Italy.
So if you want glasses that stand out without being ostentatious, made using traditional methods with the highest quality materials, and which are both classic and stylish, then Italian glasses are probably for you.
Italy is the birth place of most of the world’s designer eyewear brands, including Jimmy Choo (pictured)
It’s easy to see why Italy has become the ‘go to’ nation for designer clothing. From shoes to sunglasses, they simply make beautiful products. They often aren’t quite as ‘on trend’ as the French but Italian style is probably more dependable and a safer choice.
France – Haute Couture
Volte Face glasses from Paris
The modern term of haute couture originated in the 1860s, for fashion in good taste. French eyewear is very avant-garde and probably the most creative in the world. If want glasses at the cutting-edge of fashion, and not what most other people wear, look no further than France.
Carbon/Wood frame by J F Rey (Marseille)
This example from JF Rey reflects how the French are the leaders in originality. The frame is half wood and half carbon-fibre, an incredibly difficult combination and something which hadn’t been done before 2018.
Bocca glasses by Face a Face Paris
Cat eye is probably the signature shape of French eyewear. Very 60’s and currently very much in fashion, this is a shape which sums up their boldness when it comes to style.
Particularly if you embrace colour in your eyewear, you will love French glasses. Yellows and oranges are very common, for example. Although it’s hard to pull off, it can give you a really distinctive and creative look.
Scandinavia – Modern Minimalism
Frames by Reykjavik Eyes (Iceland)
When you think of Scandanavian companies, Volvo, Ikea, Nokia come to mind. Companies who design brilliantly engineered and functional products that last. That is exactly what the Scandanavian eyewear brands bring to the table.
For example the Reykjavik Eyes frames above are probably the lightest and strongest glasses ever made. From an engineering perspective, they are incredible. However, they don’t ‘shout’ like many of the previous examples we’ve looked at.
An Allied Metal Works (Iceland) frame is constructed using a single sheet of steel
If subtlety is what you seek, this is the region where you should start looking. Many of the best rimless or thinner frames come from Northern Europe, where comfort and durability are the most important aspects of eyewear for many people. Having said that, minimalism is definitely coming into fashion in eyewear, as I wrote about in another blog earlier this year.
Frames by Lindberg (Denmark) – one of the most famous eyewear brands in the world
If functionality is very important to you, and you want nice glasses that don’t dominate your face, Scandinavian glasses will probably be perfect for you. They produce arguably the best designed eyewear in the world, which if looked after will last hassle-free for many, many years.
England – Original Vintage
Frame by Anglo American Optical
“London is undeniably menswear’s global capital and the most important street in this world is Savile Row” Wikipedia
England’s glasses are much like their cars. Their classics are amongst the best ever made but nowadays, not a lot is happening.
Fortunately, companies like Anglo American Optical and Oliver Goldsmith are continuing to make retro styles which are still really cool today.
Sir Michael Kane wearing a classic Oliver Goldsmith frame.
As in the examples above, British eyewear has been the choice of Hollywood stylists. The reason for this is because they tend to favour distinct, bold shapes which translate well to the screen, but are quite clean and un-fussy. Plus, garish logos are nowhere to be found.
The Airlite S2 collection by Anglo American features vintage styles re-released in an ultra-lightweight material
I think if you want glasses which look fantastic with a suit, particularly for men, I would go with British eyewear every time. The craftsmanship on British made frames is excellent, but the manufacturing methods tend to be traditional rather than state-of-the-art (as you would find in Scandanavian eyewear, for example), just like as in tailoring.
Having looked at eyewear from Italy, France, Scandinavia and England, I hope you found it interesting to examine the clear differences between the regions. And hopefully it gives you a starting point when looking for new glasses. You will find it much easier to choose a pair of glasses when you think about it beforehand; look at other people who look cool in their glasses and think about what kind of look you would like to go for. And then it’s just about embracing yourself in that style.