Eyewear designer and co-founder of Kirk & Kirk, Jason Kirk, shares insight into his passion for frames, which began at a young age
21 May 2017
How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?
I currently wear about eight pairs of glasses and a couple of pairs of sunglasses on rotation. I might change my frames several times during the day according to my mood and the environment I’m in.
Can you describe your first pair of spectacles?
As my parents were opticians, I spent every Saturday in my dad’s practice in Kingsbury from the age of about three. I would try on every frame in the practice every week, several times.
I was about 12 when I first started wearing prescription glasses. I had a pair of Alfa Romeo light brown acetate glasses with a beautiful suede case…I loved them.
Do you have a favourite pair?
My current favourite glasses are the new Kirk & Kirk Quartz edition frames. In certain lights they look like a plain, simple colour, but at times they sparkle.
I enjoy frames that encourage ‘engagement;’ frames where you need to look at them several times to understand what is going on. Frames should be a reflection of the wearer’s personality and mood.
"I was about 12 when I first started wearing prescription glasses. I had a pair of Alfa Romeo light brown acetate glasses with a beautiful suede case...I loved them"
Who would you pick as your eyewear style icon and why?
Easy question, it has to be David Bowie. It was impossible to pigeonhole Bowie, he constantly re-invented himself and whether he wore simple casual clothes or challenging, innovative looks, he always made you want to find out more.
Do you ever wear contact lenses?
Nope. Never. No thanks. Why would I when there are so many beautiful frames to wear?
When did you start wearing spectacles, and what prompted you to go for your first eye test?
My dad tested my eyes regularly from an early age. I was quite happy to wear glasses as a young teenager, although I only wore them for close work.
How have eyewear trends changed during your time in the industry?
My wife, Karen, and I started in optics in the early 1990s. People wore very small frames then, presumably as a reaction to the over-sized frames trend of the 80s. When we look back at those early small frames that we sold, it is hard to imagine how people wore them. Frame fashion is influenced by so many things – lens sales, fashion trends and the economy, amongst other factors.
How has frame design changed during your time in the profession?
There is so much technology around now to help people design frames. Software makes creating frames simpler and 3D printing enables quick development of prototypes. Having said that, the weak economy has meant that many frame designers have played it safe, preferring not to take any risks. The ‘vintage’ trend, tortoiseshell and the ‘little round frame’ are not exactly the epitome of frame design, but at the same time there are some excellent creative companies working with exciting and innovative materials that are new to the market. Thankfully, the UK now has some superb cutting-edge optical practices that support creativity and stimulate the glasses-buying public.