In focus: the optical labels keeping it in the family

We’re already setting our sights on sunnier climates, and when it comes to alluring sunglassses, a heritage narrative can be a real talking point. Here we zoom in on three family-run opticals brands – Moscot, Rocket and Black Eyewear – that are fusing high design with time-honed tradition

Moscot sunglasses still life

(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Moscot: With over 100 years of eyewear expertise, five generations of Moscot men have each left their unique mark on the family-owned business. From operating out of a pushcart on Orchard Street in 1899 to surviving the Great Depression and finally thriving in New York's Lower East Side, Moscot Eyewear's Americana legacy is an essential part of the brand – as is the close-knit clan behind it.

‘When you think about the fact that we have been operated by the same family more than a century, you're reminded that each generation at some point have been involved in making the brand grow and evolve ', says current CEO, Harvey Moscot. ‘I have had the opportunity to work with my father, and now with my own son. Passing on the torch is something I am immensely grateful for. Not only to teach my son things I have learned over the years but also to make the most of their unique background and perspective'.

The all-American eyewear brand is still infused by the core values established at the turn of the last century. Moscot refers to their frames and shades as ‘Classiconics' – iconic classics that stand the test of time with craftsmanship at the core of their design. Using mineral glass sun lenses, frames handcrafted in Italian acetate and offering multiple sizes (one does not fit all) results in spectacles that are not only spectacular to look through – but also to look at! Writer: Josefin Forsberg

Rocket sunglasses still life

(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Rocket: What do you do when your mother keeps losing her sunglasses in inconvenient places such as, say, a church in Ethiopia or a chairlift in St Moritz? For siblings Ong En Ming and Ong Ker-Shing, you start a sunglasses company to keep her in perpetual supply and, for good measure, hire her as a creative consultant. Launched in 2017, Singapore-based The Rocket Eyewear Company offers a single annual collection of frames in three sizes, each constructed of cellulose acetate (a renewable plant-based material) and plastic polymer polarized lenses. The singular USP is an option of two nose-pad heights: a standard 10mm lift and a slightly higher 12mm. The latter has been a particular hit with the Asian demographic which tends to have a lower nose bridge, so that ‘normal’ sunglasses tend to slide down.

The creative process is an all-family affair, En-Ming Ong trading in his marketing role at Uber to head the front-office, whilst Ong soeur – one half of the Singaporean-based architectural practice and Wallpaper* — favourite Lekker Architects – and Ong mére work on design. For a neophyte outfit, Rocket’s market reach is admirable, the company’s frames making their way into soigné boutiques such as Christina Ong’s COMO resorts and the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay in Bali. A textbook case, we think, of making mama proud. Writer: Daven Wu

Black Eyewear sunglasses still life

(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Black Eyewear: UK based brand Black Eyewear is bringing some soul back into sunglasses. Fashioning themselves after a time when a pair of frames had personality, they mix bold, simple styles from the 1950s with a modern monochrome colour scheme. Founder Robert Roope attributes the brand’s sartorial standpoint to a rebellious streak. Instead of kowtowing to the anonymous, unisex oblong frames in gunmetal and bronze, which set a precedent in eyewear during the 1980s, Roope wants to jazz up our choices and step away from the monotonous options.

An ode to his favourite musicians, Roope creates styles like ‘Miles’, named after Miles Davis, and ‘Aretha’, after Aretha Franklin, to fit his varied clientele. The frames don’t just fill a function, but aims to let the owner wear their heart on their proverbial sleeve – or face in this instance. For Roope, the key is the fit. With a capital F. And finding the right fit is part of why he initially joined the world of optometry. ‘During the early days I would travel around Europe and Asia collecting vintage frames to find the perfect fit for my mother.’ And it seems the family ties don’t end there. Tom Roope – the mastermind behind the brands then pop-up, now permanent, fixture on Goodge Street in London – works with his father to modernise the brand. Writer: Josefin Forsberg 

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.