Kirk & Kirk glasses are made from start to finish in France except the silver and gold pins which are made by jewellers in Birmingham, England. So what is the issue? When you look inside any frame it will state "Made In Italy" or "Design France" or something similar which purports to indicate where your frame is from........sadly most of the time it only tells half of the story. More and more I hear designers proclaiming that bits of the frame come from here, there and everywhere so they might as well choose one place to designate the origin of the frame. Rubbish! The origin of the frame is where it is actually made or arguably where the majority of the materials are made which is usually the same place. I have had the pleasure of visiting several Asian eyewear factories, some produce better frames than others, some produce frames that are at least as good if not better than European factories and most of them are producing frames that the wearer thinks are made in Europe. Asian production is varied. Some of it is excellent just as there is a wide range of qualities within European production too. The acetate itself, which is the major component of the frame, is mostly produced in China with some small exceptions. Some of it is great quality. Some of it is not. If the predominant element of the frame is made in China then your frame is 'Made In China'.For years now journalists have been trying to 'expose' what they see as 'rip off culture' in optics. The day that they identify $5 frames being made in China but being sold for $200 and labelled 'Made In Italy' is the day when optics is in a lot of trouble.
This problem is not confined to eyewear. Labeling is a big issue in fashion too. So what can we do about it? I suspect that an appeal to the frame-makers who are currently deceiving the public to be honest about the origin of their frames will fall on deaf ears. Hats off to the brands who proudly stand behind their frames and label them 'Made In China'. This honest approach allows the optician and the public to make their own judgement about quality and value. Opticians, retailers, the more experienced amongst you will know where a frame is made just by holding it. If you are in doubt about the origin of a frame, ask the question and if you are sure that the labeling is duplicitous, DO NOT BUY THAT BRAND. It is about time something was done about this so that the public and the optician can make truly informed decisions when buying their eyewear. People need to understand why a frame costs what it does before buying it. If they then choose to buy a crap, over-priced frame because they like the brand that is their decision but if we insist on transparency and honesty in our profession, we will build public confidence and ultimately sell more frames.........and better ones!