Lost in the noise of the huge marketing spend of the big names in optics, is a small group of independent designers and retailers who love their art as much as you do.
We should probably kick off with an explanation - what is independent eyewear?
Independent eyewear is frames and sunglasses created by companies that are not owned by large groups but rather by small specialist companies that do nothing other than create eyeglasses.
For the sake of clarity, it is not licensed product where a big branding company buys the right to use a fashion brand name on the side of a pair of glasses and you, Mr & Mrs Consumer, are invited to pay unjustifiable sums for the privilege of advertising their name on the side of your face.
Nor will you find independent eyewear brands in the large chain stores but you need to seek out small independent boutique type stores who carry well-considered lines and are as interested in providing you with professional eye care as they are in finding specs and sunnies that make you look and feel great.
A good place to start looking for such stores is on the Kirk & Kirk retailer list.
Let's be clear, you will probably pay more for an independent brand but most of the time it is worth it. The product itself is throughly researched from the component parts and materials to the unique shapes, and production values are higher. Smaller companies produce in artisanal, traditional 'hand-made' factories, usually in Europe but, as long as the quality is right, the factory can be anywhere in the world.
Most people do not buy glasses all that often so it is worth making an informed decision. Pop into Specsavers this weekend and ask them why their most expensive frames cost what they do and then pop into an independent store and ask them why you should spend a little more on independent eyewear. Not everyone can and chooses to spend big bucks on frames and sunglasses but you should at least make an INFORMED decision.
There are some great places to look online for information about independent eyewear. Check out eyestylist.com , luxuryeyewearforum.com and 20/20 Magazine
There are independent eyewear boutiques in most towns and cities. Sometimes they are tucked away so please feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to guide you to some cool stores and some great independent eyewear.
As a pointer, here are a couple of independent lines that you won't come across without a little digging but they make beautiful frames.......check out Jacques Marie Mage
Lucas De Stael has his own small factory in Paris and creates exceptional eyewear using ground-breaking materials. Well worth checking out and they even have their own gorgeous boutique in Paris at 101, rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris.
Not all lenses are created equal. A good optician will spend the time to understand your eyes and the way that you use them so that they can recommend the right lenses for you. There are a myriad of different lenses, each with their own benefits....another good reason to visit an independent optician.
So on Saturday May 19th, Independent Eyewear Day, give your eyes a little love. They work hard for you all year round.