The Kirk family have been creating eyewear for three generations. When Sidney and Percy Kirk entered optics at the beginning of the twentieth century, they brought with them passion and a drive to innovate the industry. In those days, everything was made by hand and the UK was proud of an optical manufacturing industry that fostered some of the most highly skilled and respected craftsmen in the world. Today there is very little frame-making in the UK but Sidney and Percy Kirk's attention to detail and professional values live on in Kirk & Kirk. This weekend in Paris, at the fiftieth edition of the Silmo trade fair, Kirk & Kirk launch their brand new Spectrum collection alongside a host of new shapes and colours for both the Kaleidoscope and Vivarium collections. "It takes about two years for us to bring a new collection to fruition," said Creative Director, Karen Kirk. "As the only people in the world to work with acrylic, we have to understand the way that the material will behave in production so the realization of a concept, from an idea conceived in the studio to a physical frame that makes someone's face light up, is a lengthy but exciting process." "It is important to keep as much handwork in the frame as possible," added Jason Kirk. The three dimensional aspects of a Kirk & Kirk frame are one of the main reasons that it stands out from the crowd and the beauty of acrylic is that the glasses can be substantial but weigh virtually nothing, so they are incredibly comfortable to wear." Kirk & Kirk produce their eyewear from start to finish in one factory in France, using a special grade of Italian acrylic. Creating their own materials allows a very personal selection of colours. "Our collections are not simply about colour," added Karen, "they are about expressing your personality through colour and the nuances of the combinations that we use. How they dance and play in different light conditions is what brings our frames to life." The production process takes about six weeks for every pair of glasses, starting life as a sheet of acrylic, being cut out by hand, first the inside of the eye, then the outer lines.
The rough shape then goes into a mixture of wood chip and pumice in a barrel where it turns for four days to achieve the unique, vitreous finish that can only be achieved with this vitreous fabric. When it leaves the barrel, the frame is polished by hand and each element is put together by a highly skilled artisan, paying attention to the details that make the difference between an ordinary pair of glasses and the type of eyewear that you find at a quality independent optical boutique........pinning the joints, planing the temple butts so that they sit flush against the front of the frame, ensuring that the pantoscopic angle is correct so that the lenses will sit in the optimum position in front of the eye. The end result is a work of art that respects medical function and aesthetics in equal measure. This weekend, Kirk & Kirk launch their brand new concept, Spectrum, at Silmo, the largest and most important optical trade show in the calendar. The best frame designers in the world and the finest opticians congregate at Villepinte in the North of Paris and select their favourite collections to present to the public for next season. If you are an optician, you can discover the new releases at Silmo in Hall 5, stand M133. If you are a Kirk & Kirk wearer, you will have to wait a few more weeks.....sorry! Find your nearest Kirk & Kirk stockist on our stockist page.