That’s right guys. After over seven years wearing the same pair of glasses, I finally got myself a sustainable alternative. I’m so thrilled! (Keep reading til the end to grab a discount code yourself)
While my old glasses have served me well, the change in styles and personality that I have undergone through the ages of 18 to 25 meant that for a while I haven’t really loved them. They’ve done great in terms of durability and helping me see without contact lenses, but I also haven’t felt confident in my appearance in glasses for a long time, and I’ve hated wearing them outside of my house. Over the years I was restricted from buying new glasses because 1. I was a student and they weren’t top priority financially, 2. I couldn’t find any designs I liked in stores and 3. any that I could afford were made of a variety of virgin plastics. So I just made do and wore my contact lenses nearly everywhere, which isn’t exactly an ideal solution.
This all changed, however, when several people recommended I look up Retrospecced.
Based in Wolverhampton, UK, Retrospecced are a social enterprise that was founded by a mother and daughter duo, upcycling retro and designer glasses frames to give them new homes on new heads. Passionate about sustainable fashion, the idea was born when daughter Lucy got a new pair of glasses and asked her optometrist, who also happened to be her mum Tracey, what to do with her old frames that were in perfect condition. She originally thought they could be donated to charities to be sent out to the developing world, however this practice has been stopped in the last decade. As variables in prescriptions are so wide ranging, it’s actually a logistical nightmare to attempt to match a donated pair of frames to an individual, and in 2010 the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness agreed that this was not a sustainable way to provide vision care in the developing world (more info on this here). Instead, local stakeholders are trained to provide eye tests and dispense the correct prescription lenses to people as and when needed, whilst donated frames are often recycled for their scrap metal value. The pair thought this seemed to be a large waste for glasses in good condition, and so the idea for Retrospecced was born.
Retrospecced is partnered with the charity Vision Aid Overseas, who receive over 70,000 frames a week in donations. They sort through them in their warehouse just outside of London, picking the best vintage and designer frames for Retrospecced before sending the rest to recycling. Retrospecced sell on these frames, customising the lenses to your specific needs. Their experienced glazing house can expertly glaze any frames with prescription or sunglasses lenses, meaning you can fully tailor each purchase to you. They then donate 20% of the profits directly to Vision Aid Overseas; funding the charity’s sustainable methods for providing global vision care through building vision centres, running community outreach programmes, working with local hospitals, and training local optometrists and staff so that countries can ultimately become self sufficient in eye care. This means that not only are your glasses more sustainable, you also help fund sustainable development and real positive change across the world.
As well as the actual glasses being a more ethical option than normal eyewear, Retrospecced glasses also come in reused cases! Retrospecced works with local UK opticians, taking old cases off their hands and repurposing them to hold their upcycled glasses. In this way they cut waste in two areas of the same industry, which is both incredibly useful and innovative. Cases had never really crossed my mind much before, but Retrospecced looks at the whole picture when it comes to sustainability and ethics. They are perfect proof that often the best ideas are simple ones, done really really well.
And just look at these bad boys! I love them, I love them, I love them. I’ve wanted round frames for about four years now, but the only type I could find were always in the men’s section (there isn’t time to go into this in depth here, but gendering glasses has got to be one of the most pointless gendering of products out there. Fair enough for different face shapes, but seriously? The only ones I vaguely liked had no viable variation in the women’s section), and weren’t right for me. These, however, fit the bill perfectly, and have this amazing vintage, beatnik feel to them that I love. After years of feeling my self confidence plummet whenever I’ve had to wear glasses in public, I finally feel as fabulous as I should. I’ve only owned three pairs of optical glasses in my life, this is the first pair that’ve made me feel good as well as helping me see. Fashion and function can co-exist!
So THANK YOU, to the wonderful people at Retrospecced and their family business, for helping a girl out by giving her a sustainable spring in her step and super sharp vision. Instead of feeling that those girls in the movies when they take their glasses off and *suddenly* everyone realises she’s attractive, I feel great from the get go. Glasses firmly on.
For 10% off purchases with Retrospecced, use my discount code ETHICALUNICORN10 – it’s valid until the end of April!
Photography by Gianna Scavo
Quick disclaimer: this post wasn’t sponsored, but after they realised I’d bought the frames (had to see if they fit my tiny head before getting lenses) Retrospecced did offer me free lenses – thanks so much guys!