Conversation starters

Robert Sands, frame stylist and manager at The Spectacle Factory, considers how the perception of glasses is changing

Roberts frames

How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?

I currently own six pairs of spectacles and approximately 10 sunglasses.

What frame shapes, colours or styles do you usually go for?

I choose mainly round shapes for general wear or aviators for a more dressed-up look. Within my glasses collection I have various shades of tortoiseshell, a green leather pair, and a pair which are predominantly red. My aviators are in a brushed steel colour, which really contrasts well with the light blue tint.

When it comes to sunglasses there is so much variety, but I like styles that have a good contrast between the frame and the lens tint, rather than trying to match them. Most of my sunglasses are also photochromic as I tend to wear tinted lenses whenever I am outdoors, and occasionally indoors. Transitions Drivewear, Zeiss Adaptive Sun and NuPolar Infinite Grey are favourites.

Can you describe your favourite pair?

My favourite pair of glasses right now are a pair of JF Rey’s ‘Double Jeu’ frames. They are two fine metal frames, one square and one round, in contrasting colours, fused together to produce a really cool and unique, almost 3D, effect. They are a conversation starter and yet they aren’t as wacky as they sound; I can wear them on almost any occasion. They are beautifully designed and deserve to be more recognised.

Robert glasses
Robert’s favourite glasses are a pair of JF Rey ‘Double Jeu’ frames

Who would you pick as your style icon of glasses wearers and why?

Lewis Hamilton; I love all the frames he wears and I think his perception of eyewear should be quite inspiring to the rest of us. I think it’s great that someone who is young and so much in the public eye chooses to wear glasses. A lot of people will look up to Lewis Hamilton and I think he’s helping to change people’s outlooks. The way people view glasses is changing so much and is now something people want to have – you sometimes have kids upset when they are told they don’t need glasses.

The way people view glasses is changing so much and is now something people want to have – you sometimes have kids upset when they are told they don’t need glasses


How long have you worn spectacles for, and what prompted you to go for your first sight test?

My mum, who owns an opticians, made sure I always had my eyes tested. I’ve worn prescription glasses for about eight years now, so since I was 22.

Do you wear contact lenses?

No, I wouldn’t ever consider them. Having glasses as an accessory is something I couldn’t see wanting to change, and sports glasses can give you an edge. I really don’t see a place for contact lenses in today’s world, now there is no stigma against wearing spectacles – quite the opposite, in fact. Although plenty of people still seem to like them.

How important is eyewear to reflecting your personality?

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then glasses are the window to the eyes. As well as being a lens through which you see the world, they are a lens through which the rest of the world sees you. I think a lot of people don’t put enough thought into the eyewear they have and I feel it’s our role to make people rethink how much impact their glasses can have on their overall appearance and outfits they wear. The vast majority of patients I see now are open to having multiple pairs for either different types of wear, outfits or uses. I’m happy about that because I feel it’s in their best interests, and of course business-wise, it is good for us too.

What are your top three tips for selecting the right pair of frames?

I find that once people set themselves free from the things that stop them getting the right glasses, it’s actually quite easy and enjoyable. My tips are:

  1. Forget about other people’s opinions
  2. Escape your comfort zone
  3. Face shape has almost nothing to do with it.