Personal stylist Melanie Sarah Brewer, of Melanie Sarah Image Styling, meets Tom Davies, founder of British bespoke luxury eyewear brand TD Tom Davies….
Our eyes are totally extraordinary, recognising some 10 million colours and making, on average, some 200,000 movements a day. The global market for optics and eye wear is expected to expand at the rate of 6% in the coming years to 2017 and will go on to account for a total of $20 billion in revenues, with frames and sunglasses being increasingly viewed as personal style products. Innovative materials for lenses and frames plus other technological advances have presented new designs with better aesthetic appeal, style and quality. Eyewear in the luxury sector, including couture spectacles, is getting seriously attractive when it comes to an individual’s style statement.
As a personal stylist, the colour of the eyes and facial shape are some of the most guiding assets of a client when it comes to fine-tuning personal style. The eye is in fact a complex organ, and our eyes are unique and play a big part in capturing our memories. Think of something important to you – chances are the thought is an image. Eyewear is increasingly the facial accessory and an integral item for an array of outfits, not to mention enhancing the personality of the wearer. So, with champagne flowing at this year’s Spring launch of his Sloane Square flagship store, I caught up with Tom Davies, the designer and founder of British bespoke luxury eyewear brand, TD Tom Davies, although the art graduate came to design eyewear almost by accident. “I hadn’t really considered this as a student,” Davies confesses. “But I took the job I was offered as an eyewear designer as I couldn’t think of anything more important in terms of design than an object which helped you to see and was such a dominant part of your features.”
The rest, as they say, is history. A celebrity client list notwithstanding (The Luxury Channel spied Heston Blumenthal amongst those gathered at the launch night), Davies has also entered into a partnership with Zeiss. “I love the Zeiss quality and integration of technology across their product line,” he reveals. “It really enables us to offer the best solution possible for vision correction and I’m lucky enough to be able to work so closely with the technical experts at Zeiss to integrate these advantages so seamlessly. It’s this relationship with [them] and our ability to offer this level of clinical testing, with bespoke lenses being fitted into a bespoke frame, which makes my concept the most luxurious eyewear service in the world.”
When pushed about his high profile clients, though, Davies remains discreet. “I rarely gift anything so it is not actually so easy to name drop,” he says simply. “Let’s just say that some of the powerful people are fitted by me personally. Their needs are often very different. For example, some design briefs I’ve been given are: ‘I’m really famous and I don’t want to be recognised. Can you make me glasses which give me a different look, kind of like a disguise’ or ‘Give me something to hide my jetlag!’ My aim, when I am designing for someone personally, is to identify their lifestyle needs as well as their natural features. Given how dominant eyewear is on someone’s face, you can’t under estimate the importance of what it communicates. A lot of the people I see personally are really aware of this and if they are not, it is my job to discover this and create the image.”
Image, it would seem, is key to the bespoke design ethos employed at TD Tom Davies. He readily admits his issue with other people’s eyewear – “Glasses which don’t fit. It drives me crazy!” he says. “Generally, people aren’t aware that they can actually have glasses which don’t constantly slip down their nose or pinch the sides of the head in. From a design point of view, it’s all about balance. I try to keep the face open and sculpt the lines of the frame and thickness of the frame in harmony with the customer’s natural features. I am constantly amazed to see people in great outfits, dressed impeccably and then presenting themselves with glasses which look terrible. One of the worst things one can do is to add ten years of age by using ‘ready readers.’ I can see how it starts out – they are convenient, quick and a temporary measure. But, then the user gets used to them and years later, still pulls out these terrible items (more than they realise they are doing!) and put them on the end of their nose. It’s the image equivalent of wearing an elasticated waisted trouser from an 8 year old’s fancy dress costume!”
Nothing less than the best will do for Davies, who prides himself and his staff on the quality of their work and the subsequent attention to detail. “My workshop is full of craftsmen and women,” he says. “I only employ ‘masters’ – this means someone who has had ten years in their trade. It is considered a qualification and has a high pay grade. But, in order to meet my quality demands, we simply must have the best hand work.” That work is undertaken in Davies’ workshop in Shehnzen. “I used to live there,” he explains, “and built many friendships in my time in Hong Kong, who now work for me in my workshop. I always say that it is not where [glasses] are made, but how you make them, and from what. I use materials from all around the world. For example, my acetate comes from Japan, because the Japanese make the best acetate. My darker horn colours come from India because they treat the animals very well in India (and that is important to the quality of the material). I buy white horn from Africa, since this is the best quality white water buffalo in the world. I buy my beta titanium from Germany, as this material’s spring is dependent on superior engineering only found in Germany, and I buy my pure titanium in China, because I found it to be stronger than anyone else’s.”
The TD Tom Davies range also includes sunglasses. Whilst the mainstay accessory of choice for the fashion-conscious and the film star alike, prescription lens wearers have traditionally had a harder time. “With sunglasses being such an essential accessory, you would expect more people to be using them all the time,” Davies says. “The reason they don’t is simply due to the limitations sunglasses have with prescription lenses in them. Most sunglasses can’t take most prescriptions – unless you don’t mind walking around with jam jars. A lot of the sunglasses we are designing bespoke are for people who want the glamour, but also need to see!”
TD Tom Davies eyewear is available worldwide via partnering opticians. Tom’s bespoke and customisation services can be enjoyed from his ready to wear collection, his Limited Edition delights and his couture personal consultations for Him or Her. The personal touch is extended by having one’s name discreetly laser-engraved on the inside of your eyewear frames.
Tom Davies Opticians
54 Sloane Square
Melanie Sarah Image Styling is a bespoke service for men and women, based in West Berkshire and available to clients from London to Bath. Many of Melanie’s clients are British and are based in the UK, whilst some book a style review as part of their visit from overseas.
+44 (0) 7715 113 632