The World’s Best Eyewear Brands: Stylish Frames For Every Face
Whether selecting solely for style or out of visual necessity, a pair of spectacles or sunglasses from any of these luxe eyewear brands will ensure you’ll be a sight to behold.
Few accessories reveal a wearer’s personality as eyeglasses do. A literal frame for your style and character, eyewear can serve to emphasise eye colour, help to structure a jawline or provide an air of authority, intelligence or nerdy cool to your look.
The perfect pair might even accomplish all three, in addition, of course, to correcting vision issues and blocking UV rays. Potent stuff for a simple set of spectacles. Whether selecting solely for style or out of visual necessity, a choice from any of these luxe eyewear brands ensures that you’ll be a sight to behold.
Cutler & Gross
The absence of an obtrusive logo makes this British eyewear brand the choice of those who value modesty over egotism; though ironically, fans do include some of the world’s most flamboyant entertainers, such as Sir Elton John. Founded more than 50 years ago by Graham Cutler and Tony Gross, the company’s stellar reputation is based on understated style and fine Italian craftsmanship. So iconic is the brand that it has its own frames museum atop its flagship Knightsbridge, London store.
Top design houses such as Maison Martin Margiela beg for collaborations, as has the movie industry, illustrated by a recent partnership with The Kingsman film franchise. Every Cutler and Gross design features premium materials, such as Japanese titanium and Italian acetate and gold, for a long-lasting finish. Each frame also comes fitted with anti-reflective and hydrophobic lenses. No logo? No problem.
Garrett Leight California Optical
This eponymously named independent eyewear brand comes with pedigree. CEO, creative director and optical prodigy Garrett Leight grew up in the industry, making his path to eyewear superstardom nearly pre-ordained. The son of Larry Leight, founder of Oliver Peoples, Leight is a true California boy and his designs are inspired by the people, places and stories of his home state, with a focus on his hometown of Venice.
Leight uses the most exclusive, high quality materials from the world’s best suppliers in crafting his frames, all of which are designed and hand finished at his downtown LA studio, each with great attention to detail. But popularity has dictated expansion, and GLCO is now found in 25 countries, on six continents, and in seven flagship US locations.
Fans include Jeff Bezos, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Andy Warhol and Truman Capote were devotees of this five-generation, family-owned American luxury eyewear brand, founded in 1915 and still operating in New York’s Lower East Side. MOSCOT is one of the oldest local businesses in New York City, as well as the 21st oldest eyewear company in the world that is still in operation today. Talk about street cred.
Founder Hyman Mushcot arrived at Ellis Island in 1899 and sold ready-made eyeglasses on Orchard Street from a wooden pushcart, serving the region’s immigrants. Some speculate that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Doctor T.J. Eckleburg billboard’ in The Great Gatsby was inspired by the posters of giant eyes and glasses that Mushcot hung in his retail store.
Today, the fourth generation Moscot siblings have built on the once-simple neighbourhood optical store to fashion a global brand. Collaborations with leading designers and influential artists and celebs have placed the acetate, metal and beta-titanium frames on a world stage.
After having collaborated with other luxe fashion brands and iconic designers, while establishing himself as a design savant, Tom Ford created his own brand in 2005. (Why dilute your creativity when you can claim the genius for yourself?) Trendsetter Ford continues to set the mood of the moment with innovation and provocative design – attributes that are beautifully rendered not only in his clothing, but in his eyewear line as well.
Fusing exclusive materials, quality Italian craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail, Ford merges both vintage and contemporary influences in his bold frames, each model of which is unmistakable for its elegant metal T detail. James Bond is a fan; need we say more? (The styles Marko, Snowdon, and Henry have been featured in 007 films.)
Ace & Tate
The Dutch eyewear company whose name is derived from the material (acetate) used to create most of its frames was founded on the premise of disruption and sustainability. Based in Amsterdam, where each of their frame styles is designed in-house, Ace & Tate initially opened exclusively online with a vow to eliminate the middleman in order to deliver affordable, thoughtfully designed eyeglasses directly to consumers.
Subsequent success has led to more than 70 brick-and-mortar stores in 10 European countries, as well as editorial features in leading fashion publications worldwide. Providing a fantastic customer experience (such as free eye tests, and near-instant delivery of prescription eyewear) is the company’s paramount ambition, as is its goal to minimise its environmental footprint by implementing recycling initiatives and by reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
This brand was established in 1992, though its true origin can be traced to 1919 when brothers Percy and Sidney Kirk founded their eyewear company in London – noted during the time for providing daredevil motorist Sir Malcolm Campbell with the lenses for his motoring goggles. The Blitz caused the dissolution of the popular company, but decades later, a Kirk family descendant discovered a surplus box of the duo’s bold, heavy in weight, bygone-era frames, igniting a resurgence of the brand.
Kirk Originals hand manufactures its frames in England using the best materials and skilled craftspeople to produce styles that transcend trends. A favourite of trailblazers and hell raisers, Kirk Originals’ nonconformist frames have been seen resting on such notable noses as those of Paul Newman, Michael Caine and James Baldwin to members of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Clash.
Established on the principle that eyeglasses shouldn’t break the bank, this eyewear brand, named for two characters featured in a Jack Kerouac journal, was founded by four University of Pennsylvania Wharton School grads. Initially merely an online retailer, the company now conducts most of its business out of nearly 200 retail stores across the US and Canada with a mission ‘to inspire and impact the world with vision, purpose, and style’.
Warby Parker circumvents traditional channels and designs its frames in-house with high quality materials. The company is known for its ‘Home-Try-On’ programme whereby consumers can sample five pairs at home for free, and for its augmented reality, virtual try-on app. Additionally, through their ‘Buy a Pair/Give a Pair’ program, they have donated millions of pairs of eyeglasses to those in need.
Jacques Marie Mage
Jacques Marie Mage frames are unmistakable for their architectural quality and bold geometric shapes. Founder Jerome Mage, a French expat who founded his company in Los Angeles, seeks design inspiration in cultural revolutions and anti-heroes of previous centuries. Through his high quality, very limited production eyewear handcrafted in Japan and Italy, he attempts to artfully reconstruct and retell history’s epic tales, elegantly infusing historical motifs with a modern aesthetic… a tall order for a pair of specs.
But wearers are believers, such as long-time devotee Jeff Goldblum who has collaborated with the brand to co-create several frames. Fans consider JMM frames to be in the same collector category as fine watches, or even rare automobiles – each of which balances form, function and style.
Taylor Morris may be based in charming Notting Hill, but the company’s reach is worldwide. Founders Hugo Taylor and Charlie Morris strive to create timeless styles infused with beauty, sophistication and individuality. The duo’s love of British design, Hollywood glamour and rock ‘n’ roll bohemianism are evident in their range of affordably luxurious glasses and sunglasses that complement a variety of face shapes and are suitable for every occasion.
Their frames (recognisable for their unique design feature of three dots at temple-level on the arm) combine a throwback vibe with modern edge; several are inspired and named for adventurers, silver screen idols and iconic London locales, such as the Raleigh, for British explorer Sir Walter and the Westbourne, for Westbourne Grove, one of the brand’s favourite London spots.
Few, if any, eyewear brands are so intrinsically associated with pop culture as Ray-Ban. Introduced in the 1930s as utilitarian, antiglare eyewear for US Air Force pilots, the brand quickly caught-on with the general public. Wayfarer fans James Dean and Audrey Hepburn helped ignite the Ray-Ban craze before Tom Cruise set hearts further ablaze as aviator-wearing Maverick in Top Gun.
Throughout its near-eight decades, Ray-Ban styles have proven to be an essential accessory for those who wish not to be seen, but who desire to be noticed. Aside from affordability and durability, there is a reason this brand has maintained popularity since its initial introduction – a pair of Ray-Bans easily raise every wearer’s cool quotient.
One-hundred years of history and artistry can be expressed in one name: Steve McQueen. The ultimate arbiter of ‘cool’, McQueen’s love of this Italian eyewear brand is well reciprocated; an entire line is dedicated to the screen icon. Meaning ‘for the sun’, Persol is one of the oldest eyewear manufacturers in the world; its lenses were originally made specifically for the motor racing and aviation industries before being discovered by style icons.
The Persol name stands for technological innovation, elegance, outstanding quality, and wearability and comfort. Instantly recognisable for the arrow detail at the temple, each Persol frame is made with top quality materials and passes through more than 30 different manufacturing stages. A genuine masterpiece of engineering and craftsmanship.
Founded nearly 20 years ago in Berlin, where it continues to independently manufacture its entire line, MYKITA achieved near cult status upon its initial introduction. The brand’s technologically advanced frames (such as hingeless, no screws, stainless steel styles, and ultra-light weight lines) have been spotted on the faces of Brad Pitt, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Cruise and Daniel Craig.
MYKITA develops its own tools and processes to meet their own design requirements and is known for its introduction of an eyewear industry first – a new material called MYLON, distinguished by its refined surface and deep, even colouring, the manufacturing process of which produces zero waste.