It's not uncommon for us to get a few messages a week from people on social media decrying the price of our handmade sunglasses:
And we understand that £250.00 for a pair of frames is not ‘cheap’, but we would argue that’s because the product we create is not cheap, either. You see, there are a number of factors that have gone into determining the price point of our sunglasses. So, for this week’s journal article, I thought we’d explore what these factors are. I promise this is a more enjoyable read than I’ve just made it sound!
Before I dive in to exploring the components that go in to making a pair of our sunglasses - as this is just one of the factors behind their price - let's take a look at where the story begins. Predating our now well-established making process are years of design, development, experimentation, trial, and error, to create a viable, unique product that aims to penetrate an industry dominated by big-brand titans.
It's hard to quantify the value of this work, but without it we wouldn’t be consistently making our collection of frames for customers that live all over the world.
Now to the making process! Our sunglasses are all made by hand using a material that we create, all from our workshop in Cornwall, England. The material is a composite made by infusing denim with resin. This hardens the denim and creates a durable and unique material from which we make our frames.
A lot of people think we copied Rayban. And yes, they did make denim sunglasses for a while, but not from a durable and striking composite material in the same way. Rather, they sandwiched layers of denim between acetate, which is very different to what we do.
The making of our unique material is the starting point for every frame we make. From here, we switch on a CNC cutting machine and programme it to cut out the various pieces we need to make a small batch of frames. It takes us around two weeks to make a batch of twenty frames. And when I say programme, I mean Jack has to climb onto the machine to load and unload the pieces, change the tools by hand four times for every batch of frames, and continuously move the frames between different parts of the jigs.
Small metal parts that Jack has designed then get assembled with the cut frame pieces, using a jig. This requires a lot of concentration to make sure the frames are aligned properly, and all the component pieces are assembled correctly.
It's from here that the newly assembled frames go through multiple hand finishing processes. As well as Jack, there are three of us in the workshop working with the frames at various points of their life. Some of these stages include using a rotary tool to sand the frames, making sure they’re the perfect shape and texturising the various brass details with a tool that gives the brass a satisfying patina. We add layers of polish to the frames to ensure they are waterproof and resistant to oils and things like makeup. We detail around the hinges on the frames and the arms, to make sure they work perfectly, and we soften frame edges and metal parts to ensure they are comfortable and enjoyable to wear.
Of course, alongside the many hours that go into the making, are the number of materials used in the process. As well as all the tools and consumable items we use to handmake the frames, there are a significant number of individually designed metal parts to each frame, which are all made in small quantities to Jack’s designs. And not forgetting the lenses – we use Zeiss lenses for our sunglasses; these are high quality polarised lenses we hand fit to each frame.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the work, the tools and the tears that go into each frame, but it certainly provides a snapshot of what it takes to create something handmade, detailed, and unique. We don’t necessarily think this is the case for a lot of other big-name sunglasses brands. From handmaking to creating our own material, there’s a lot of things we do that make our frames cool (in our humble opinion) and, in the process, a completely different product to the ones you find on the wider market (also in our humble opinion). So, why not grab yourself a bargain?
Until next week-ish.