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The Role of Opticians in the Fashion Industry

April 5th, 2010

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Opticians, despite all appearances, are a very important part of the fashion industry, despite the continuous reliance on contacts and lasik eye surgery.  Glasses are always the fall back for many of us, on days when our allergies are acting up or on days we simply don’t feel like poking our eye with contacts.  As a result, opticians have risen to the forefront, especially as luxury fashion designers have begun to design popular frames that are affordable to the regular glasses-wearer. 

As Guy Treaby of the New York Times puts it, “…a dog’s age ago there was no such thing as eyewear. There were eyeglasses, and you wore them not to billboard your profession or proclaim your fashion affiliations.  You wore them because you were nearsighted and had astigmatism in one eye.”  A more true statement has never been made about the eyeglass industry, one which slowly snuck up as a large realm in fashion.  Designer Prada or Burberry frames are some of the top sellers at most optician offices, and it doesn’t stop there.  Opticians, in fact, have begun to change the fashion industry, slowly changing out “outdated” frames to replace them for sleek, new-age frames, much to Treaby’s lament.  In the article Treaby wrote, he spends most of his time complaining that the round tortoiseshell frames he loved as a child and an adult are no longer “in fashion” and are therefore not carried by most opticians anymore.

His rant continues into the discovery that designers have taken over the eyeglass industry, and cheaper tortoiseshell frames are no longer offered because of the change in the domination of the eyeglass industry.  It was a slow transition, from optician to fashion designers, but it has in fact taken over the industry, as it is rare to find a type of frame that is not name-brand and under $100.  However, Treaby’s article continues on to note that the eyeglass frames he so loved began to be offered as a “vintage” frame in the 1980s, known as the “O’Malley”.  Since this point, the designer who offered them stopped producing them, but they have begun to be a familiar sight on the runway, as a mixture of nerd and chic.  The eyeglass industry is apparently in a whirlwind of fashion as glasses begin to be the newest hip article of clothing once again… long as you have the “in” style of course.  


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