For designer glasses, cellulose acetate has long led the way as the strong and lightweight material of choice. Now, however, prominent frame makers – Tom Ford and Oliver Peoples among them – are bucking the trend for plant-based plastic and opting instead for a more ancient material: horn. One burgeoning New Zealand brand at the forefront of the trend is Lewis Fredericks.
While this material may bring to mind colonial antiques with dubious provenance, Lewis Fredericks’ frames are, in fact, highly eco in nature. All of the buffalo, ram and ox horn from which the frames are made comes from offcuts – by-products of domesticated livestock that would otherwise have gone to waste. Brand founders Josh Bowden and Auguste Gruar met at the Victoria University of Wellington three years ago and, after attending a lecture about how buffalo were being farmed for meat in India, they wondered what was happening to all the horn. A business idea was born.
The current range features 24 styles (from NZ$560, about £320) – an au courant mix of 1950s- and 1970s-inspired shapes and silhouettes, each in a variety of colourways. The aesthetic is unisex and sophisticated, and the inherent variation in the material makes every pair of glasses unique. They look and feel special. Take the LF02 frames, with their midcentury-modern curves in black and white with a subtle marbling in the horn: they would look great with a grey Thom Browne suit, button-down shirt and white Common Projects trainers. The LF01s in blonde horn are strikingly graphic when made up as a pair of shades with dark-green polarised lenses, while the LF15s, with their wider top rim, would be the perfect pair to sport when reading through a script over lunch at Chateau Marmont.
California has, in fact, become a key sales hub for the brand, whose exclusive bricks-and-mortar stockist in the US is the über-hip Mohawk General Store on Sunset Boulevard. Everyone else can click with these cool Kiwi glasses on Lewis Fredericks’ slick website, offering extensive international shipping.