What are the benefits in investing in glasses based on superb craftsmanship and clinical excellence?
Ed Lyons: We believe that using top quality hinges, adjustable sides, hypoallergenic materials and having an understanding of frame and lens geometry for the frame design translates into a superlative ownership experience for the wearer and also gives our stockists utmost confidence in our range.
I’ve been involved in Optometry for over 20 years and have seen a decline in the quality of spectacles and sunglasses as the industry became dominated by one or two major players. Entire ranges that were once handcrafted by multi-generational families have now been transitioned into mass production, without a reduction in price to the end customer.
As a clinical practitioner, it was frustrating when I could feel a drop in the quality of the frames I was dispensing to my patients, and when seemingly obvious design features were either overlooked or bypassed due to production costs which inevitably meant unhappy customers.
As such, Ed and I decided to produce a small range of optical and sunwear frames that are fully traceable from the base materials through to the craftsperson-embossed logo on the frames.
Your lines are divided between “handmade in England” and “handmade in Italy” – how would you describe the stylistic differences between the two?
EL: Our Handmade in Italy collection fuses accessible classic 50’s chic with our Venice model and features playful architectural shapes in our Napoli style. For a small, limited run capsule collection, we’ve produced a series of frames with strong bold lines or soft, discrete curves. Our Eyewear will suit everyone but will never be boring.
Our ‘Handmade in England’ line is where we can get really creative as each piece is individually made from scratch to the customer’s requirements.
We begin with a one-to-one styling consultation to understand the client’s aesthetic and practical needs, then, using a combination of template frames, hi-res photography and traditional measurements, a “first fit” frame is made in black acetate. Any adjustments to this can then be discussed and modifications made if necessary. It’s not uncommon for the “first fit” frame to be so good the client ends up having both!
How did a world-wide investigation lead to your using an eclectic range of materials?
EL: Sustainability, individuality and heritage are foremost in each part of our production – where possible we strive to use the very best materials from family-run businesses, be they UK or international. Based on my experience in the eyewear industry, I was able to pick out a selection of companies around the globe who could tick these boxes. For example, Mazzuchelli is a Milan-based, family-run business – their core values are excellence in innovation and quality with a focus on tradition and craftsmanship, so they’re a perfect match for Edwards Eyewear. We’ve used English Walnut and sustainably sourced Buffalo Horn from France. We’re also working on a Titanium series from Japan, as the Japanese are the world leaders in creating Titanium eyewear.
A while back you came up with a new method of assessing an athlete’s eyesight: can you describe how it works?
EL: Over the last decade, I’ve developed a method of assessing an athlete’s eyesight, which I’ve applied with great success both in the UK and abroad, with clients winning national, international, Commonwealth, Olympic and world titles.
Since 2010, I’ve examined the eyes of over 1,300 competitive shotgun shooters from over 42 countries in addition to numerous Premier League footballers, rugby players, boxers and members of the British Armed and Special Forces. This is a customised, two-hour-plus eye examination which assesses the visual strengths and weaknesses which are relevant and specific to their specific sport.
In addition to ensuring the individual can see as clearly as possible, I assess visual skills such as high and low contrast vision, depth perception, tracking, eye muscle efficiency, eye dominance, hand/eye coordination, peripheral awareness and much more.
We discuss the suitability of contact lenses, laser treatment and if appropriate look at equipment fit and how it affects the visual performance as well as the ”pickup” effect of different coloured lenses. 2D and 3D Vision Training Plans can also be devised if required. The end result is a solution tailored to each individual to offer maximum visual sharpness and accuracy in the best possible eyewear.
If required, this information is then passed on to the coaching team so that they can understand why the athlete sees the way they do, and any visual issues they may be experiencing. I can then tailor a practical approach and methodology specific to that person.
Ed Solomons – can you explain how your shooting experience has altered/enhanced your understanding of human vision?
ES: For my own shooting experience, I’ve very much relied on the knowledge of others – Ed Lyons – to guide my choices. The coaching that I’ve done full-time for the last seven years has helped give me a very solid understanding of how our visual system can affect our performance, and how it can be manipulated in various ways to improve students’ results.
Developing the coaching element is, in no small part, the result of working with and learning from Ed. Between us, we’ve developed a fairly formidable system of highlighting and correcting issues, combining Ed’s clinical knowledge with my understanding of techniques and shooters’ mechanics. This has led to world and national titles, not just for me personally, but for both mine and Ed’s clients too, which makes us immensely proud.
How do you go about ensuring frames and lenses are sustainable?
EL: For our frames, we wanted to use the finest materials we could find. They had to be lightweight, strong and hypoallergenic – no more broken end tips or nose pads, and no more corroded sides or hinges. It was paramount to produce quality eyewear responsibly. Our bioacetate frames are made from cotton and coniferous fibres, reducing our plastic footprint, and our boxes are constructed from fully recycled material.
This was certainly not the cheapest way for a start-up business to get going – however, these eco conscious steps were a core tenet of our business model. We believe in doing it right or not at all.
We also have a ‘Handmade in England – Horn Collection’. Each numbered piece is a by-product of the farming industry and can be traced back to its origins. Horn is a fabulous material as it is lightweight, incredibly strong, completely hypoallergenic and has a depth of character with respect to colour and patina that cannot be matched. Each frame is guaranteed to be a true one-off.