Greater Manchester has given the world a fair few legendary glasses wearers over the years—from Deidre Barlow and her trademark oversized clear frames to Ian Brown’s Tron-esque asymmetrical wraparounds. That said, if there were a competition for the archetypal Mancunian eyewear icon, Liam Gallagher might just be at the top spot.
" Like Steve McQueen, Liam is one of those people who grown men endlessly aim to imitate..."
Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to overstate the influence the gobbier Gallagher brother has had on what men wear over the last three decades—from round spectacles to duffle coats. He’s probably shifted a few tambourines too.
Like Steve McQueen, Liam is one of those people who grown men endlessly aim to imitate—with the world wide web rife with ‘what Liam wore’ discussions as his fans pontificate over the finer points of suede shoes and parka pocket placement.
This phenomenon is probably down to two factors. The first? He looks good. The second? The stuff he wears is functional, wearable and relatively attainable. People talk about the influence Bowie had on fashion—but how many people do you see walking around in Ziggy Stardust-esque leotards or even the crisp summer suits of the Thin White Duke? A pair of trainers, some jeans and a sharp pair of shades on the other hand is the kind of ensemble anyone can wear.
"Liam’s eyewear choices ignored the gaudy futurism of the early 90s in favour of the classics."
This attainable everyday style wasn’t just reserved for Liam’s early years either, and whereas most bands quickly outgrow the t-shirts and trainers in favour of lavish stage costumes built around whatever overblown concept their new album is apparently about, Liam has always kept things relatively functional—and even for some of the biggest gigs of the Oasis years, he was decked out in the kind of clothes you’d happily wear for a bus ride into town or a few tins in the park.
The same could be said for his glasses. There’s no Elton John-level ZOOM-goggle-excess with Liam, and just as the music of Oasis brought back a stripped-back rock and roll sound in the wake of Madchester and acid house, Liam’s eyewear choices ignored the gaudy futurism of the early 90s in favour of the classics.
In 1994 around the time of their debut Definitely, Maybe, that probably meant a tinted pair of wire-rimmed shades. Worn in the music videos for ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Shakermaker’ along with a fair few press shoots—these shades have caused a hefty chunk of internet discussion, with no one sure what they are. Some say they were just unbranded ones, and some say they were Ray-Bans—but maybe that’s besides the point… they looked good and set a serious precedent.
Such is the love for these mysterious shades that a few years back none other than Garrett Leight actually took matters into his own hands to remake them to the swanky specifications he’s known for. If that wasn’t enough, Jacques Marie Mage have their own Gallagher-inspired creations—the Supersonics (although to be honest these chunky frames might be more of an homage to Noel’s mid-90s eyewear decisions rather than anything Liam wore).
Anyway, where were we? Perhaps Liam’s most famous ‘moment in eyewear’ came in 1995 with those classic round glasses he sported in that black and white video for ‘Wonderwall’. The Gallagher brothers had never been shy about their love for the Beatles (with their previous name the Rain a nod to a Fab Four B-side rather than the notoriously drab Manchester weather), but Liam’s Lennon-esque specs here were an even more blatant homage.
In some hands glasses like this could veer slightly into retro throwback territory—but thanks to the relatively toned down outfit of a Burberry house-check button-down, some brown cords and a pair of gum-soled trainers he kept things casual with an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place today.
Endless nostalgia will sometimes kid you into thinking the music and the style of the mid-90s was all great, but it’s important to remember that a flick around the music channels in ‘95 (if you were lucky enough to have music channels…) could easily land you on Jacko and Janet in a spaceship, Mick Hucknall’s shiny suits or the Scandi-country mega-hit ‘Cotton Eye Joe’. Oasis were an exception, rather than the rule.
When Oasis played their ‘96 Knebworth gigs to nothing short of 125,000 people each night, the round frames made an appearance once again, worn alongside a Skywalker-esque white safari jacket as the band played some of the most legendary gigs of the 90s.
26 years later, when Liam returned to Knebworth solo, not much had changed. Alright, the round frames had been swapped out for blue-lensed aviators, but it’s hard to believe over a quarter of a century had passed between the gigs.
Actually—one thing has changed. Whereas in the 1990s Liam and co were looking to the ‘60s and ‘70s for inspiration—mining classic rock to create their style and sound—now the younger generation are looking back to the bands of the ‘90s, once again creating something new out of something old. The cycle continues. We’ll have to wait and see what glasses he picks out of the cupboard for that reunion in 2025—although judging by recent photos, they might well be a pair of JMMs. Eyewear icon? Definitely—no maybes about it.