Shopping for spectacles is no easy task. After all, you need to find something that suits your face shape, personal style AND makes you feel confident and comfortable.
Because glasses should do just that – rather than an accessory that hides who you are, they should be treated as another opportunity to highlight your personality and features.
The high street is awash with chains stocking exactly the same options in exactly the same colours, vying for your custom with promises of free eye tests and UV/anti-scratch/anti-glare/anti-everything coatings. But do you really want to look the same as everyone else? And does the optician telling you that those Tom Ford frames look fantastic, even though you’re not sure, really just want your commission?
Independent eyewear brands not only have a whole host of shapes and silhouettes that you won’t find on every optician’s racks, they are often also better made, using premium, hard wearing materials.
With that in mind, we have pulled together a list of our ten favourites, to point you in the right direction. New year, new glasses, new you.
1. Garrett Leight California Optical
We’ve had our eye (no pun intended) on this brand for a few years now, after noticing their collaboration with Erik Schedin.
Garrett Leight are great for classic styles with a modern twist – think the sort of thing David Hockney might wear. Bold, colourful and yet somehow timeless.
Garrett Leight California Optical has the full range available from the online store.
2. Gillian Caplan
These beautifully handmade frames in simple modern designs are an absolute treasure.
The range is sold exclusively through London’s Covent Garden Spex in the City store – currently vying for the FashionBeans best opticians name ever award – which was founded by Caplan.
Gillian Caplan are sold by Spex in the City.
Possibly NYC’s most prominent eyewear export, Moscot has been a firm favourite with celebrities and us mere minions since they opened their first store in 1925.
Having always been a family business, the brand is now owned by Harvey Moscot, who has continued to platform the vintage style frames they are known for. Accessibly priced, well-made and carefully shaped to suit a variety of face shapes, Moscot are an excellent option.
Moscot are available from their online store and retailers worldwide.
4. Fetch Eyewear
Another great option for a more classic style, but this time firmly contemporary rather than vintage-inspired.
Chunky colourful frames are offset by simple black versions, giving you a variety of options once you have found a frame shape that suits you. They are also made using high quality materials and produced alongside designer brands, but at a fraction of the price.
The full range of Fetch Eyewear is available from their online store.
5. Smith & Norbu
While they may be a little more expensive than some of the other brands we have featured, they are more than worth it.
These are a luxury option using yak and buffalo horn, often handmade to fit your exact requirements.
Please contact Smith & Norbu directly to find prices, range and stockists.
6. Eye Respect
A modernist range of own brand products sits amongst the multiple options from other glasses makers on the Eye Respect online store.
Often using contrasting colours and blocky shapes, Eye Respect’s own offering happily competes with its counterparts on both price and quality.
Eye Respect’s own range is available from their multi-brand online store.
7. Savile Row London
As is befitting of a brand with that name, this is a range of classic and elegant eyewear options with a very British sense of style at its heart.
Wire frames with tortoiseshell detailing and round lenses make up the Savile Row signature. And with celebrity clients including Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, John Lennon, Denzel Washington, Steve Jobs and Harry Potter, they are certainly getting something right.
Savile Row London is available from select retailers, contact directly for information.
8. EB Meyrowitz
We stumbled across this beautiful range of glasses while visiting London’s Burlington Arcade, where the brand have a store.
While they may not be hugely accessibly priced, a pair of EB Meyrowitz glasses is an investment that you will keep for your entire life. The focus from the staff in store is on finding a shape that suits you intrinsically, creating an almost emotional bond between the wearer and the brand.
Can you tell we’re fans? Bespoke options are also available.
EB Meyrowitz glasses are available from their Burlington Arcade store.
9. Kame ManNen
Founded in 1940, Kame ManNen is Japan’s oldest optical brand – originally launched by the designer behind a manufacturer which dates back to 1917.
Known for their delicate frames and classic styling, the label is also at the forefront of technical trends, using new, high spec materials at every opportunity.
Kame ManNen glasses are available from independent opticians internationally.
10. Hardy Amies
One of London’s most interesting Savile Row tailors, and one our FashionBeans’ 6 Formal Wear Brands You Should Know, in recent years Hardy Amies has branched out into eyewear.
Staying true to the brand’s signature aesthetic, glasses come in unique shapes and frame styles that exude style and a gentlemanly elegance.
Hardy Amies is available from their online store.