When it comes to shopping, I am not good at being decisive and can't cope with pushy sales assistants, which means I tend to avoid certain beauty halls (I listen when they tell me I need to buy four eye creams) and opticians. This is how I ended up wearing the same glasses for over six years without a spare pair, until I lost them in September and had to suddenly decide on a new pair over my lunch break—a challenge for even the most focused shoppers.
Glasses might be the most noticeable accessory you can wear, but buying a new pair tends to be a very clinical experience that is far less emotional than shopping for shoes. But in the six years since I last tried to find a new pair of frames, a number of new brands have emerged that make the experience so much more fun and nothing like a dentist appointment. In the week when I lost my glasses, I suddenly became an eyewear specialist, and there were three brands that really stood out. Keep scrolling to see the three brands that make glasses shopping just as fun as shoe shopping.
Kite Eywear was co-founded by brothers Adarsh and Anar Radia, the duo behind the incredibly successful Dishoom restaurant brand, with the aim to make opticians less sterile and more stylish. They liken traditional retail opticians to the dentists, and let's face it—wading through the rows and rows of glasses under the watchful eye of a pushy sales assistant can be as unpleasant as a routine check-up.
Their solution is an eyebar on Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, where they have totally reworked how you buy glasses. You sit at a "bar" where you flick through a book of photos of glasses, you make a pile of the ones you'd like to try, and your own personal stylist then brings them to you (along with a glass of champagne). The best part of this styling session, however, is the process of elimination, as you move the ones you like onto a separate tray and then you can try on all the colours of each style of your "maybe" pile. As a person who struggles to be decisive in a shop, I can vouch that it helps you to quickly realise what you like and what you don't like.
Cubitts was founded in 2012 but in just five years has expanded far beyond its original store in King's Cross and now has five London branches. With its wacky spherical frames and clear perspex options, Cubitts might seem like just another hipster opticians, but it is more traditional than you might think. All the frames are created using traditional techniques, going through 50 stages of production, and I found the staff to be refreshingly honest about what does and doesn't suit you. Just like at Kite, the shops are a world away from clinical opticians, and you can even try on four frames at home for free meaning you can find your frames from your sofa.
Amsterdam-based brand Ace and Tate is all about stylish but affordable glasses (they cost £98 for frames), meaning you can build your own "eye wardrobe" for the price of one designer pair. It previously was online only but has just launched its first UK pop-up store in Seven Dials, London. Again, you can trial different silhouettes at home before deciding to go for a final pair (or not), but my favourite thing about Ace and Tate is the volume of choice, as there are 61 different styles available in so many colourways.