Going back to the old traditions in eyewear crafting, we are coming back to the horn that was heavily used by the Inuits to protect their eyes. No other material feels warmer than the touch of buffalo horn. We know that!
And what we want is to have something natural touching our skin rather than synthetically manufactured. This article will uncover the history behind the most sought after eyewear in the world introducing famous designers working with this precious material.
How It Is All Started
The trend has started right from the 1917 after famous comedian Harold Lloyd wore horn rims in his short movie “Over the Fence”. These specs seemed to be so special in the sense of their bold appearance they were giving in comparison to metal frames popular those days. So special, that people started ordering them from local opticians straight after their appearance on the big screen.
Later on, a variant of horn-rimms, browline glasses, became one of the defining eyeglass styles of the 40s and 50s. Their design combined the aesthetics of horn-rimmed glasses with the stability of metal frames by fitting prominent plastic “brows” over the tops of metal frames, creating a distinctive look that was also sturdier than solid horn or plastic frames.
Traditionally, horn eyewear has been a custom made product sold only in luxury optical boutiques at prices close to the earning level of an average employee. The main reason is the high value of horn itself. Second – the crafting process that requires enormous experience and dedication of the most skilled worker.
Nevertheless, designers overcame all those problems by using different plastics to imitate the texture and color pattern of the original material. That allowed them to satisfy the growing needs of their customers. Today, we have a broad choice of eyewear available: from tortoiseshell acetate frames to traditional horn, to satisfy any client and every wallet.
Advantages of Horn Rimmed Glasses Frames
Although designers can benefit from the new technologies that can duplicate the texture and colors of natural horn and tortoiseshell materials, there are a few features that cannot be replaced by any means:
- horn frames are hypo-allergenic that makes them perfect for people whose skin reacts to certain materials;
- frames made of horn do not produce static electricity;
- horn eyewear is lightweight yet amazingly strong;
- they clear away the heat and cool the blood detoxification;
- each frame is one of a kind like a fingerprint;
- horn glasses frames adapt to its owner’s face and can last a lifetime.
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Manufacturing Process and Its Challenges
It worth pointing out, there are just a few manufacturers that have a capacity and the skill required to transform the horn into the luxury eyewear. Each frame is peace of art and requires a very special care during the long process of carving and polishing. Cracks are inevitable if the rules are not followed with a great attention to details, especially when inserting the lens.
To achieve its even surface, the horn goes through several stages of traditional polishing methods and comes out shiny. The actual pattern varies from light beige and multicolored brown shades to deep black. Due to unique palette of horns, almost all of the frames are mixed in color.
When ordering glasses, you pick the actual slice of horn from many rectangular slices presented to you for consideration. The final sketch, your measurements and the slice chosen are then sent to a special lab where the lens is being sharpened specifically to fit the frames. Unfortunately, horn is always trying to retain its original shape which is flat. For that own reason, you are not able to choose every design for your horn frames. Many people see this as a great disadvantage.
Present Trends and Collections
These days horn rimmed eyewear enjoying another peak of their popularity, thanks to a great influence from the hipster’s sub-culture. Some fashionistas wear their specs without prescriptive lenses, merely as a fashion statement. The style earned even more fame due to the popularity of American show “Heroes” where one of the main characters, Noah Bennet, is known as “Horn Rimmed Glasses” or “HRG”.
If you want your own pair of horn rims, we have selected below top 3 eyewear designers to satisfy your appetite. The prices are varying as well as the service, thus offering you an option that is just right for your budget.
- Penn Avenue Eyewear (prices around $249 per pair) – the company was able to offer the luxurious eyewear to mainstream consumers by working closely with their selected horn suppliers. Furthermore, Penn Avenue has launched its special “try at home” program that will enable you to preview up to five frames and make your selection at convenience of your own home. Well done, PAE!
- Rigards (priced around $765 mark per pair) – the collaboration between two friends, both passionate collectors of glasses and supporters and supporters of organic approach to designing eyewear. Each pair of glasses is carefully handcrafted by a single artisan from horns that are ethically sourced from small farms in Africa.
- TD Tom Davies (prices vary between $1,000 and $1,700 per pair) – each of the TD horn frames can be offered with the truly bespoke service through a number of registered opticians. As a result, you get the frames that are tailored to your own individual features and needs. Worth the price, but not everyone is able to pay that much!