The birth of the rounded frame is a pretty hard thing to pin down. There’s not much in the way of a tale behind the style. There’s no trailblazing optometrist to speak of, there’s no moment of inspired ophthalmic genius to re-tell. In fact, the origin of round glasses is a little foggy. It’s not that it’s an out-and-out mystery, more that the history of rounded frames is sort of entwined in the history of glasses themselves. Round glasses have always kind of been... around.
"It could be said that the glasses of yesteryear weren’t the best lookers..."
One of the earliest etchings of eyeglasses, dating back to the 13th century, shows some studious clergyman in some ancient monastery squinting at his parchment from behind a pair of round framed specs. Later, in the early 1600s, a portrait of that well known cardinal, Fernando Niño de Guevara, shows him sporting yet another pair of circular frames. Of course, these early varieties wouldn’t exactly fly off the shelves today. They often lacked temples, needed to be held by hand, and were either made of leather or weighty metals like lead and iron. It could be said that the glasses of yesteryear weren’t the best lookers, but they didn’t need to be. They were purely functional, the reserve of a studious and god-fearing elite.
Over the next few hundred years, though, glasses evolved a bit. By the turn of the 20th century they were more affordable, more accessible, and more in demand. It was round frames’ time to shine. Throughout the roaring twenties, and into the slightly-less-roaring thirties, rounded glasses could be spotted on the melons of the first wave of celebrities, the bright young things. Modernised, pimped-up, and sometimes even plated in gold, the rounded proto-specs of history soon found they’d been catapulted into the limelight of the modern day. No longer were they unsightly eyesight aides; stylish specs were now a must-have accessory, and rounded frames were leading the charge.
"Now manifesting as sunglasses and opticals, round glasses had doubly secured their place in pop culture history..."
With a bunch of new materials and production methods invented in the mid-20th century, a barrage of new frame styles soon followed suit and round frames found they’d slipped off the stylistic radar. This wasn’t the end of the line for round frames though. Oh no! Whether it was a nod to the intellectual heroes that had worn them decades before, or the fact they could be picked up dirt-cheap second hand, the hippy movement of the 60s adopted the style as the unofficial frames of their peace loving movement. Now manifesting as sunglasses and opticals, round glasses had doubly secured their place in pop culture history, having been written into the stylistic history books as part of, not one, but two cultural revolutions.
And it’s the fact that this classic style can still conjure up an image of refined, studious authority that’s meant round framed specs have never strayed too far from the frame style peripheral. It’s why they’ve been the choice of thinkers and visionaries alike. Think Churchill, Gandhi, Lennon, Jobs, and...erm... Potter. Most importantly, though, it’s why the frame style is coming back in a big way almost a century after its first foray onto the frontlines of fashion.
" They can finish off a look with a stamp of intellectualism, or they can invoke a sense of care-free psychedelia...."
Rounded lenses are one of the few true timeless classics; A piece of fashion history that can still pull weight today. As frames, they’re an all rounder. They look top-notch small and wirey, or massive and chunky. They can finish off a look with a stamp of intellectualism, or they can invoke a sense of care-free psychedelia. And whilst they're not always perfect for rounder faces, they do a good job of suiting most face shape. If you hadn’t guessed already, we love round frames, and that’s why we stock so many. Take a look at some of our top picks below.
Wilson by Garrett Leight
Californian spectacle provocateurs, Garret Leight, have designed their fair share of sexy circular specs, and the Wilson collection is up there. Inspired by the Beatles troubadour and round frame evangelist, John Lennon, they still look every bit as modern as the rest of the Garrett Leight range. Available in a huge choice of styles, including Sage Pearl-Brushed Silver-Seafoam, Sand-Gold-Rose, and Brushed Silver-Matte, Windsor rims and tortoise temples complete this pair and make for a really, really nice pair of opticals. You can also grab ‘em in a bunch of sun styles.
Mont Blanc by Jacques Marie Mage x White Mountaineering
It seems there is no mountain high enough, no valley low enough, no river wide enough, to keep you away from the newest collaboration between Jacques Marie Mage and White Mountaineering. Named for the most prominent mountain in the Alps, the Mont Blanc ‘40s-inspired acetate and titanium spectacles will spirit you to the peak of outdoor elegance.
Stanley S by Mr Leight
Named for the visionary Hollywood director, these rounded combination P3 sunglasses are made with custom titanium details and a finely detailed filigree adding pattern and texture to this classic shape. Thoughtfully designed with an acetate front, metal temples, and custom enamel-filled titanium nose pads for exceptional wear and comfort from these Stanley S sunglasses from Mr Leight.
Morningside by Garrett Leight
The Garrett Leight Morningside glasses are a new oversized optical style inspired by Lauren Hutton's iconic look in the classic, American Gigolo. The ultra-chic rounded frames also come in colourful pastel and classic colourways.
Our in-store Round Frames
If you're lucky enough to live in or near our rainy home town, Manchester, why not pop in to Seen HQ and give some roundies a try? On top of the aforementioned beauts, we've got a whole load of other spectacular circulars from a load more of the best independent designers, including the likes of Anne Et Valentin, Orgreen Optics, theo, Dita, Lindberg, and Thom Browne. Such choice.
Don't know how to find us? Fear not. You can get directions and take a sneak peak inside here. See you soon!