Each morning I’m plagued with the same basic question of ‘style’…contacts or spectacles. Long gone are the days when glasses were associated with the nerd / book-worm archetype, instead evolving into a lifestyle accessory for a little added sophistication or quirkiness. Season to season, I’ve observed the adoption of non-prescription glasses and statement eye-wear as an extension of one’s style, which over time become synonymous with an individual’s image (think John Lennon or Karl Lagerfeld without their iconic frames). I too have been searching for the perfect pair to complete my ‘look’; my signature silhouette if you will.
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Over the past year or two, my reliance on contacts has slowly dwindled…probably as a result of post university self-confidence but following an accident with my trusty Burberry frames, I’ve been left in ‘limbo’. Echoing the wider world of men’s fashion/style where gents are becoming increasingly more invested in the story behind their favourite brands/product… I too demanded a pair with a bit more character and personal attachment.
Enter Archibald Optics, not only was the London-based brand born out of a commitment to functional aesthetics and an intriguing business model but they also share my (predisposed) appreciation for Japanese craftsmanship. Built on a unique ‘Designed in England, Made in Japan’ ethos; taking inspiration from quintessential British vintage styles fused with the meticulous attention to detail and handcrafted Japanese artistry (each pair goes through 180 manual operations to make). The new ‘Sun Collection’, 8 key unisex Archibald silhouettes, in isolation alone warrants a closer look however what inspired this post was a growing interest in the brand. It’s not often I regard a company as redefining an industry but Archibald’s direct to consumer model is definitely creating a few ripples. Freeing themselves of licensing fees, pesky middlemen/distributors and costly advertising enables consumers to benefit from their drastically reduced mark-ups. Their business model may conjure up parallels with other disruptive eyewear labels (e.g. Warby Parker), Archibald differs in that they target the higher end of the market (in terms of quality) creating the first direct-to-consumer brand operating in the luxury space.
In preparation for my trip to Malaysia, I decided it was perfect time to look into some Archibald frames. As most guys will (reluctantly) confess, it’s normally a good idea to consult with our other half on questions of style (she always hates my taste in xmas jumpers) with eyewear being no different. Instead of sending her dozens of blurry selfies from my local optician’s showroom or forwarding links to cool frames I stumbled across online, Archibald’s try at home kit was perfect for soliciting her (sometimes blunt) feedback. The folk at Archibald have solved the ‘age old’ challenge associated with online shopping by building a home trial service which delivers a beautifully designed leather case containing three selected styles to try in the luxury of your own home; at no extra cost and without the annoying sales rep pestering you to make a decision.
My selection included the transparent acetate ‘Ferguson’, the night-fog ‘Oscar’ and the light bronze ‘Ayrton’. During the duration of my trip, there was plenty of sunshine (thank God for the polarising lens) and ample excuses to test out the frames, switching them up daily before settling on the classic look of the Ayrton.
Beyond my biased respect for Japanese design, I inspected the frames from the Sun Collection in search of practicality and style…and found both without compromise. Rewriting the rules of the luxury eyewear industry is no easy task however Archibald is able to offer the same quality and service at a competitive price. To conclude, here is a look at Archibald’s craftsmen doing their thing…what I find more fascinating about the video is knowing that the craftsmens are giving ‘free reign’ to tweak designs as they see fit…adding a superior level of refinement and functionality.
Photography by Adam.
Special thanks to Rufus Abbot & the folk at Archibald Optics