From Linda Farrow’s ground-breaking 1970s styles, which made eyewear truly fashionable, to today’s modern and bespoke labels, such as Ace & Tate and Cubitts, chic opticals have become essential accessories. Take a look at our guide to the must-have brands and their new collections for this season.
Established in 1970, Linda Farrow’s eponymous luxury eyewear brand quickly rose to prominence. Originally a fashion designer, Farrow was one of the first people in the industry to treat sunglasses as a fashion statement. Her pioneering use of shape helped to move eyewear into high-fashion territory, with her avant-garde styles favoured by stars including Yoko Ono and collaborations with leading labels such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Sonia Rykiel.
After a 20-year hiatus, the brand was revived in 2003 by Farrow’s son Simon, following the discovery of a vast archive of vintage sunglasses in the family’s London warehouse, and was relaunched as Linda Farrow Vintage.
Today, operating under the brand’s original name, Linda Farrow’s AW17 collection is a homage to the Italian riviera and has an unapologetically romantic 1950s style. Textured frames and lush pastel tones showcase this season’s popular dreamlike aesthetic. Soft-coloured lenses are coupled with rose gold frames, precious metal flat lenses are updated and classic gold aviators are revisited with green and coral-coloured lenses, adding a hint of 1990s attitude to the collection.
Linda Farrow, 91 Mount Street, London W1K 2SU, +44 (0)20 7499 6336
Independent eyewear brand Ollie Quinn was launched earlier this year by the team that brought Australian company Bailey Nelson to the UK. Founded by four friends who share a fascination with eyewear, the company presented an inaugural collection of 50 optical frames and sunglasses. The pieces were designed by an in-house team of creatives, led by French designer Sebastien Brusset. Brusset describes the team at Ollie Quinn as an eclectic collective of people drawn from all over the globe, who share a certain creative, open spirit that brings cohesion to the designs.
Each boutique has been created by in-house architects, with a clean, tasteful aesthetic that embodies the brand’s ethos. Wherever possible, the label works with local furniture suppliers and craftspeople to create welcoming spaces that reflect each individual neighbourhood. Customers are encouraged to linger, explore, and enjoy their experience.
Ollie Quinn, 69 Neal Street, London WC2H 9PJ, +44 (0)20 3289 0265
Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur and optometrist Asad Hamir, and his brothers Adarsh and Amar Radia – who co-founded Dishoom – Kite offers eyewear with cutting-edge design and cutting-edge German Zeiss lenses. The brand’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship ensures that it uses only the finest materials, such as bespoke acetate from renowned manufacturer Mazzucchelli.
Kite’s latest eyewear collection celebrates clever colour blocking and deceptive line weights, offering styles with a playful, graphic quality. The combination of bronze, rose gold and graphite, alongside earthy acetate patterns, gives these frames a completely new silhouette.
Kite, Westfield Stratford City, Montfichet Road, Olympic Park, London E20 1EJ, +44 (0)20 3728 7777
Offering a more traditional aesthetic, Cubitts’s frames go through 50 different production stages over a period of six weeks, including four separate stages of polishing to ensure a lustrous finish. Its new collection introduces the fresh seasonal Slate colour – a sharp, cool hue with a subtle chalkiness. Slate comes in high polished cellulose acetate and a custom matte finish is also available. Cubitts offers a bespoke service for frames and sunglasses, and pricing depends on the complexity of the design. Typically, an acetate remake costs around £425 and a completely new design costs £625.
Cubitts, 37 Marshall Street, London W1F 7EZ, +44 (0)20 7129 8128
Ace & Tate
Online eyewear brand Ace & Tate believes that strong design and high quality can go hand in hand with fair pricing. The label’s Amsterdam-based design team produces classic yet modern styles that are investment pieces rather than trend-led items. Quality materials are a central focus for the brand, so much so that it took its name from the cellulose acetate that is used to make the majority of its frames.
The brand’s collection showcases the sleek, seemingly effortless style of the Italians. This aesthetic is so distinct there’s even a specific term for it – sprezzatura, which means to make the difficult look easy.
All frames are designed in-house and produced with top-quality materials and the sharpest eye for detail. Prices start at £89 which includes prescription lenses for opticals.