In 2020, specs are no longer a symbol of bookishness or a lack of glamour; they are a fashion accessory. Here are the best opticians in London for getting your eyes tested – and finding stylish frames, while you’re at it
By Pendle Harte
Alexis Amor has been in the business for many years; a couple of years ago he launched his own frames, designed by him, to sell alongside the more established names he was used to stocking. He had started out selling glasses to people who would bring their own prescriptions with them, but his Richmond store now offers its own sight tests in a stylish space.
Amor’s own collection of frames is large enough to cover everything people might want, yet compact enough to make choosing fairly easy, and it’s a stylish range with a high-class feel. Amor is clearly a man with a passion for vision correction, and amazingly, he can make up a pair of glasses while you wait. He’s proud of his cutting edge machines that will laser cut lenses to fit in minutes; he stocks most normal lenses but can order anything slightly unusual within 24 hours. So for him, it’s glasses while you wait, and a personal, friendly service with it. You can see why people keep coming back.
Transitions x Cubitts
Wearing adaptive lenses hasn’t traditionally been a very good look. They never quite look convincing as sunglasses and they tend to darken indoors at inappropriate times. Transitions is a lens brand on a mission to change the image of lenses that darken automatically – because the idea itself makes so much sense.
Transitions lenses come in a variety of different shades and now that they have been given the seal of approval by Cubitts, one of London’s most stylish optometrists, they are officially hot. Cubitts’ diverse range of own-brand frames comes in lots of colours, like a blue acetate frame and matching blue lenses. Wearing them on a sunny day, they quickly darken and then turn clear again indoors just as promised. Ultimately, they’re a joy to wear.
Auerbach and Steele
Auerbach and Steele’s new store on the King’s Road is large and bright, with colourful frames lining the walls like little pieces of art. There is a children’s area, a private room for those who would like to try on frames discreetly and even a small garden – a far cry from the usual dingy examination rooms.
The glasses on offer are contemporary and cool, unusual colours paired with innovative shapes that make a statement. As well as being a pioneer in optical style, Auerbach and Steele prides itself on clinical excellence. The state-of-the-art machinery is exquisite and the whole atmosphere of the King’s Road store paired with the brilliant advice from the sales assistants makes for a pleasant – even fun – experience.
Finlay London’s background is in fashion. The brand started out as designers of wooden sunglasses, but it’s come a long way since then, and now the focus is on eyecare as well as eyewear; they have an expansive own-brand collection of frames (Meghan Markle has been spotted wearing several of them) and they have just opened their second shop, in Notting Hill (the other is in Soho). “Glasses can be the first thing you notice about someone,” says co-founder Dane Butler. “And trends in eyewear tend to last between three and seven years. So it’s not unusual for people to own four or five pairs of glasses.” And probably more sunglasses.
The Finlay collection is unisex, and frames come in a wide variety of colours and shapes. At the Notting Hill store, choosing frames to suit is aided by friendly and decisive staff who will tell you what suits you as well as what will work best for your prescription. There’s a curated selection of frames from Finlay’s favourite brands in addition to their own brand, and downstairs is a special area for children. It’s a nice place to be, and the eye test is almost enjoyable.
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