Almost every pair of glasses in the world is mass produced. It’s fortunate that industrial technology can now make glasses affordable for hundreds of millions of people around the world. However, there are major quality compromises made in order to produce eyewear cheaply. Sadly, this category also includes most “designer” eyewear and glasses that are sold under licensed brands, some of which is not so inexpensive.
At this level, plastic frames are injection molded, so they want to retain their molded shape and are difficult to adjust for fit. The plastic itself is lower-grade. Metal frames are made from pot-metal, also known as Monel, which is heavy and prone to breaks. Overall fit and finish may be rough, especially after they’ve been worn for a week or so.
This is the category of frames in which InVision specializes. We work with a select group of independent optical designers, each with the experience and history in the industry to translate their designs to a perfect-fitting frame. The handmade process differs in many ways from mass production. Here are just a few important ones:
Better materials: natural acetate is longer lasting, more adjustable, holds more brilliant color and polishes to a finer gloss than petroleum plastic.
Materials II: Steel hinges are stronger and more adjustable than pot-metal parts. In this category, most all-metal frames are titanium for maximum weight-to-strength ratio and flexibility.
Handmade plastic frames are carved from solid acetate instead of being injection molded, meaning they respond much better to adjustment. They look shinier and feel better too.
Three weeks of polishing. Handmade acetate eyewear parts spend weeks tumbling in a drum with glass beads that polish the material to a deep shine, bringing out the full depth of colors and patterns.
Couture colors: InVision designers create new custom colors and patterns in acetate and metal for every seasonal collection. It’s cheaper to buy off-the-rack materials, but the results are never as beautiful or interesting as with couture.
Superior fit and finish. People often comment on how our glasses feel when you pick them up; you can literally feel the quality and attention to detail. It also means your expensive glasses are going (with some care) to still fit and look good after two to three years of daily wear.
Certain materials, like wood, buffalo horn and leather, require even more care and attention to detail that the handcrafting process allows. They demand highly specialized skills that only a handful of optical technicians possess, so one man or woman usually creates each piece from beginning to end.
Likewise, some designers approach the craft from a more artistic, less compromising perspective. DRIFT, Lucas De Staël, Robi Horn, Gold and Wood and Markus T. are unique personal expressions. Everyone in these tiny companies takes great care to fully realize the designer’s vision. Does it sound crazy to talk about glasses this way? Not if you know these companies, see the integrity with which these people do their work. Then, it’s the only fair way to talk about these glasses.