Anna Laub of Prism on the art and importance of sustainable eyewear
Prism has always been about supporting traditional craftsmanship; about creating a market for handmade products, built to last by skilled artisans. Our glasses are made in a small, old-school factory in Italy, using techniques passed down through generations. Everything we do has this ethos through it. It’s not just a marketing concept.
Provided you don’t lose or sit on them, a pair of Prism glasses should last you forever. I still have glasses from my first collection.
It’s our 10th anniversary this year, and to celebrate we decided to look backwards, at the first collection we ever produced. Many of those models are still selling now, 10 years later. They’ve become classics, still relevant today. We wanted to explore ways of making these classics more sustainable, using new materials that have been developed since we opened a decade ago.
There is a new bio-acetate that is renewable, natural and biodegradable, because it’s completely phthalate free and made from cellulose acetate and plasticiser. We’re manufacturing several of our longstanding classics from our archive in this material.
Part of our approach to product longevity is to be fashionable and a little bit experimental, but not so out there it’s over the top and will be passé in a few years. Our fashion is more understated—we want timeless design.
If you want glasses that are going to last, you need to choose carefully. When I’m helping customers, I advise them to consider face shape, skin tone, hair colour, eye colour and the colour of the clothes they wear.
I don’t buy new glasses often, but I do always find it strange when people ask me why I need more than one pair. I wear optics every day. If I change my shoes according to my outfit, why wouldn’t I change my glasses—which, unlike my shoes, are the first thing you see? Some people have about 35 pairs of shoes.
Each pair of Prism glasses is unique: they are all handmade, cut from one block of acetate. A block of acetate is like a piece of wood, in that each part cut from it is slightly different. By contrast, a mass-manufactured pair of glasses is made by injecting plastic into a mould—which is why thousands upon thousands of pairs can be made for a tiny cost.
To sell glasses at £3 is to encourage the ethos of purchasing and not caring. Such a thought process is alien. Of course, there is an accessibility there, and it’s great for people on low budgets, but when it encourages a ‘buy, buy, buy’ attitude I just find it a bit gross.