Designer Glasses?

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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.

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Read Our Reviews

The Spectacle Factory is rated 5 out of 5.0 stars based on 20 review(s).


The Spectacle Factory was recommended to me by a friend and my experience from my initial eye test to taking delivery of my new glasses was first class throughout. The attention I received from James during my eye examination was both extremely thorough and professional. He worked patiently and diligently to fine tune my prescription. Robert's involvement in choosing my new frames and lenses was brilliant. At no time did I feel under pressure into making quick decisions regarding the choices made available to me. His expert knowledge and enthusiasm was very reassuring at all times. Having experienced several years of eye discomfort, I am now overjoyed with the difference that the team at The Spectacle Factory have made to my vision. Many Thanks.

- Mr Michael Mortimer


I brought my daughters in recently for their first eye tests and I was so impressed with how patient and thorough all the staff were with us. Trying to get a four year old to sit still enough for the scans was very difficult but Ben tried his best and didn’t seem to let it phase him. Claire was wonderful during the eye test itself, employing my 6 year old to be her assistant and making it fun for them both. Not being a glasses wearer myself, I was quite overwhelmed when I was told my 6 year old needed glasses, but Robert helped me to understand what her prescription meant and made sure that her beautiful new glasses fit her just right! Thank you so much to everyone at SF!

- Emma Venn


Picked my Reykjavik Eyes glasses up Thursday . Robert and his team are outstanding . I am a nervous customer due to bad experiences when I was young . They made the whole experience special and made me at ease throughout both visits . Robert is brilliant regarding frames to suit you no pressure just brilliant support and help . I would wholeheartedly recommend The Spectacle Factory to everyone. Thanks a million everyone.

- Alison Wood


Five stars without any hesitation. I immediately felt at ease and the atmosphere was very welcoming. The service was prompt and efficient. I felt the examination was very thorough and any questions I had were clearly answered. When it came to choosing my frames and what my prescription involved the options available to me were fully outlined. I didn’t feel under any pressure and I felt in charge of the transaction. From entering to leaving it was a lovely experience. I was a little hesitant in the current situation, but my fears were soon allayed as every precaution was taken to minimise the risks. Superior to any high street optician. Excellent all round! EH

- Elizabeth Horsfield


Living some 300 miles from The Spectacle Factory visiting was not an option for me, however, after checking all the reviews I decided not only to buy my J.F. Rey frames (seen on an online video by Robert) but also have my Zeiss smart life progressive lenses made by them. I had no worries. After taking advice from Robert the measurements required for the lenses were done locally at a nominal cost. I am now the proud owner of a pair of handmade 'wow' glasses and a very happy new customer. Use them with confidence. The customer service is truely outstanding.

- Alan Astin


Well they you pay for what you get. It’s definitely true of The Spectacle Factory. There customer service is the best I have experienced anywhere. I was not rushed with any decision and I was made to feel like I was there most important customer. What I paid was an eye watering amount but I got smartlife ziess lenses and frames that are very comfortable. I now also have very clear vision when reading. I thought it was not clear due to lighting in modern offices and homes. Wrong it was bad lenses and persecution not being quite right. Thank you for sorting it all out at the first attempt.

- Heath Christy


ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT I have been using the Spectacle Factory for a long time, but the latest visit was the best BY FAR..... I desperately needed an eye test, and was fitted in quickly. James, the optician, was excellent , as usual. 4 members of staff were outstanding in the service I received. Robert, Ben and Emma were absolutely perfect.....and Ruth, the manager was excellent, as she always is. The best visit by far...I cannot rate this place higher !!!

- K Rhys


Welcomed by and dealt with Robert during the whole process of choosing through to final fitting. Great service, great range of glasses, really helpful and informative. I would highly recommend

- Jenny T


After reading all the positive reviews I decided that a 40 minute drive would be worth it to try and get a new prescription and frames- I wear my glasses all day so need to get this right. I was so impressed with everyone’s desire to be helpful and make sure I was happy at every part of my visit. I wasn’t the quickest at choosing new frames but never felt rushed by Robert. He listened and gave helpful advice as we worked through choosing the frames and lenses I needed. They have a huge range of frames which meant I ended up with a pair I was really happy with. I actually chose a pair of prescription sunglasses as well, which I have been meaning to do for years. I loved the combination of cutting edge technology and personalised service. It’s so nice to see a team that places such a priority on customer satisfaction - they certainly deserve 5 stars.

- S McReynolds


Fantastic service! I attended the spectacle factory over a year ago for an eye test. They were amazing, and so patient with me! My Polaroid frame broke recently, so in desperate need called the spectacle factory to order a replacement frame. They were so efficient and helpful. Also my frames were covered under warranty and I didn’t have to pay a penny. AMAZING. Couldn’t recommend them anymore!

- Rebecca F


Friendly service, thanks to Robert who took the time and care to ensure that I was happy with my new glasses. I would definitely recommend.

- Paul Wellman


Visited the Spectacle Factory a couple of weeks ago for the first time. James did my eye test and was very thorough and informative. Chose a pair of glasses afterwards with the help of another member of staff. Great customer service. I have always gone to high street opticians before and never sure what glasses suit me. I was allowed to take my time and offered helpful advice. Love my new glasses which I picked up with the week. I will be returning to the Spectacle factory in the future. Far superior in terms of quality and customer service compared to other opticians I have been too.

- J B


My wife and I both have great glasses (and sunglasses) from The Spectacle Factory. Right from our very first visit we have been very impressed with the highest level of care and attention to detail, both with eye tests and the choice of lenses and frames. They seem to have a flair for helping you to choose the right glasses. Once your order is ready, nothing is too much trouble to ensure that the fit and the suitability of your glasses is perfect for your needs and that you are completely happy. Their ongoing service is second to none. We can highly recommend The Spectacle Factory..

- Geoff Gosling


Came in today for help with some frames, repaired no questions asked, there and then on the spot Brilliant service

- Alex


All the staff are so helpful and switched on to all your requirements I would recommend them all day what a good experience

- Roy gardiner


The Spectacle Factory offer me the kind of customer service and ability to customise my choice of spectacles that just is simply not available on the High Street. From Initial contact, to delivery of the finished product, you are treated like a loyal friend. Nothing is too much trouble. Unbiased advise, on choosing the correct spectacles for your particular application. A vast range of frames from the very cheapest to the latest designer frames. I choose the Spectacle Factory, because they can provide me with, customised glasses, to align with my particular needs and requirements. Most high street opticians have a 'one size fits all' attitude. The Spectacle Factory does not subscribe to this theory and treats every client as an individual. Their eye sight is very comprehensive and is 50% longer than the industry standard. If you value your eyesight, and want the very best care, this is the place to visit.

- Paul van de Rooy


Rob and the team were excellent help with the professionalism and advise . I will become a faithful member of the spectacle factory!! Thanks again team

- Dan Amin



- James


Excellent advice with a fantastic product range,

- Thomas Sayer


Highly recommend The Spectacle Factory - excellent service will definitely be using again.

- Hattie

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