Are designer glasses worth it?
As someone who recently helped a client choose a pair of glasses worth £3000 (frames only, pictured above), I know something about how much variety exists in the world of eyewear. I’ve written numerous magazine articles on the topic of fashion in the industry, and travel around the world to various shows exhibiting the weird and wonderful in spectacles.
Choosing which glasses will become yours is an incredibly personal and intimate decision. No other accessory you elect to buy will likely be used as much or as often, or for such important reasons.
At the same time, you want to make sure that, like any other purchase, the pair you choose represents value for money. My ambition here is to take you through what makes a pair of glasses more valuable than another. I’m not a sales person. I like to educate people about eyewear, so they can make the best choice, because I’m passionate about glasses, and I’m passionate about helping others.
Image is everything?
I’m not going to talk about style, not yet anyway. Because at least 50% of the people I deal with aren’t particularly interested in how their glasses look. But almost everybody cares deeply about how their glasses function.
For example, in the image above, you can see that the frame on the right (Tag Heuer) is much more curved, which would give the wearer better peripheral vision; very useful particularly for driving and sports.
It’s also easy to see that some frames are stronger than others. Just look at the two hinges pictured here:
It’s obvious that one will take more wear and tear than the other.
Then you have revolutionary frame designs like Reykjavik Eyes, which are made from just one piece of metal, with no screws, no springs, no solders, nothing to come loose, break, or fall off:
They make wearing glasses a different experience, because you can’t feel them on your face, and they’re virtually indestructible.
So, clearly, glasses which are designed better are more valuable. The frame you choose can affect your vision, your comfort, and how easy they are to maintain. We even have frames that can be tracked by GPS, in case you lose them.
The thing is, these are all frames which are well designed but not necessarily what most people think of as designer frames… by this they usually mean Armani, Gucci, Prada etc. In other words, glasses designed by fashion designers. This is where it becomes much more subjective. Most of the popular names are in fact licensed by eyewear manufacturers and have minimum input from the brands themselves. The manufacturer may take inspiration from the brand, but that’s as far as it goes… (there are some exceptions here – Dior for example have much greater control over the design process). By and large, you’re paying for a regular, albeit good quality (because the brand has a reputation to uphold) frame with a name on the side.
Is that worth it?
If you care about a name and style – of course. And some of the ‘designer’ frames are beautiful. But I think there’s better value to be found with independent eyewear designers.
Oxydo work with artists to incorporate their ideas into frames.
Manufacturer LuxHorn crafts frames by hand from Buffalo Horn
As worn throughout the Hollywood film industry by celebrities including Johnny Depp, Anglo American Optical are the original inventors of many of the styles used by other designers.
Above are some examples of independent eyewear manufacturers who make beautifully styled glasses. I think true ‘designer frames’ are handcrafted like this. They all have robust hinges and are made from premium materials. They are superb value for money. They’ll all last longer, feel more comfortable, and look better than your average pair of glasses. And you aren’t paying for the name (which is not to say they are cheap).
If you’re interested in the kind of craftsmanship involved in independent eyewear manufacturing, here’s a video from German designer Flair:
So there you are. Hopefully you’ve learned something about what makes some glasses worth more than others. Of course whether you decide that ‘designer’ glasses are worth the investment is up to you. My experience tells me that people are almost always happier having a better quality product than going for the cheaper option, especially when it comes to their glasses.