If you follow me on Instagram you may have spotted my fancy new Emporio Armani glasses that were kindly sent to me by Retrospecced. I’ve used a couple of online glasses retailers in the past with little success but Retrospecced are different in more ways than one. Not only are they UK based with excellent customer service (unlike my previous experiences!) but they are all about doing good for the planet and it’s people. Co-founder Lucy tells us more about their upcycled glasses…
Tell us about yourself and why you started your business…
My name is Lucy, and I started Retrospecced with my mum Tracey three years ago now! The concept of Retrospecced was born when I had a new pair of designer spectacles. I asked my optometrist, (who happens to be my mother Tracey!), what we should do with my old Prada frame and whether it could be donated to charity. My old Prada frame was immaculate, as I’d only ever used them for night driving and so they were hardly worn. I, like many people, thought that they could be donated to charities such as Vision Aid Overseas, distributed and used by people who would really benefit from them.
I was aghast when I realised that this doesn’t happen anymore – it’s a logistical nightmare for charities to exactly match up someone’s prescription with an appropriate pair of donated frames, and a few years ago the World Health Organisation recommended that sending glasses overseas was not the most sustainable way of providing eyecare in the developing world. Instead, the donated frames are recycled for their scrap metal value; this seemed such a waste for the thousands of pristine frames donated each week like my Pradas so we wanted to come up with a solution to give all of these frames a new lease of life – and Retrospecced was born!
What makes your brand ethical?
We have partnered Retrospecced with the charity Vision Aid Overseas (‘VAO’). We refurbish and upcycle frames like my old pair, as well as incredible antique and retro frames, and donate 20% of the profits from the frames sold directly to Vision Aid Overseas on the customers’ behalf. Our experienced glazing house can expertly glaze any of our frames with prescription or sunglass lenses, meaning frames can be fully be customise your purchase for a unique look! The concept of Retrospecced means that these donated frames can be enjoyed by someone else and at the same time raise money for a really good cause – upcycling is key to reduce waste.
Vision Aid Overseas needs money to fund their work providing eye care across the developing world. Retrospecced helps them to raise money from the sale of our frames, so by buying a pair of ‘Retrospeccs’ people are not only supporting the sustainable fashion movement – they’re also helping those in the developing world to see and work and support their families through the donations made to VAO.
What plans do you have to become more ethical in the future?
We reuse our packaging as much as possible, but are looking to ensure that we minimise or completely design out plastic waste in our packaging in the near future. We’re also considering looking in to selling some frames made from recycled ocean plastic waste – so watch this space!
What is your favourite product from the website and why?
Now that’s nearly an impossible question! I have so many pairs of glasses now, it’s slightly embarrassing…! For me, my favourites have to be the big and bold 1980s frames – whether as prescription glasses or sunglasses, they never fail to brighten up my day! But it’s like asking which one is your favourite child, I love them all differently for different reasons!
We do offer blue control lenses too as one of the lens options, which are fantastic! The blue light filters out the glare you get from looking at screens. I have to recommend these here for people who spend much of the day looking at a computer; I recently got a pair and they’ve massively reduce my headaches. They really are fantastic!
Describe your brand in 3 words…
Fabulous upcycled frames!
Fabulous is right – I love mine! They arrived in pristine condition and fitted perfectly. The process of ordering was really simple but be sure to have a copy of your current prescription to hand; your optition will be able to post a copy out to you. The hardest part of the whole process is deciding which frames to buy! Retrospecced have hundreds of options on their website but their filter system makes it much easier to narrow down the choices. You can choose between retro or designer, catseye or round, metal or plastic, black or yellow…whatever your style you’re spoilt for choice! And if you still can’t decide then you can pick a few to have sent out for a home trial.
I filtered by colour and shape but still found it so hard to choose! In the end I went for a sensible everyday pair that would go with most outfits (purple is a neutral, right?) but I’ve since spotted a few retro pairs that are pretty cool so no doubt I shall be placing another order soon!
My upcycled glasses were sent in exchange for a review but I honestly can’t recommend Retrospecced enough, especially if you’re looking for something a bit different. Lucy was so lovely to chat to and the idea of refurbishing old frames gets a big thumbs up from me. Just think of all the old pairs of specs that have gone to waste over the years! Thankfully this mother/daughter duo are here to save them from landfill and help provide eyecare for thousands of people in the developing world while they’re at it. Sustainable style at it’s best, I’d say.