From nerd eyeglasses to retro eyeglasses

August 16th, 2010 by Mark Burns Leave a reply »

Since the emergence of first pair of eyeglasses, both lens and frame industries have experienced tremendous changes. The dominant role maintained by single-vision lenses has been greatly challenged by multifocal lenses. Traditional plastic and glass lenses have been largely replaced by lenses made of superior materials like high index plastics and polycarbonate. Today, even prescription lenses can be tinted without offsetting their normal capability of vision correction. Eyeglass lenses are usually transparent and there is nearly no change in their appearance. The majority of lens changes are associated with functionality. However, the situation is completely different in the eyewear frame industry. Eyeglass frames have changed a lot in appearance along eyewear industry. And there are some interesting phenomena in this process. One is the interaction between nerd eyeglasses and retro eyeglasses.

In modern eyewear users’ mind, eyeglass frames decades ago would really be nerd and far from attractive. It is true that there was a time when many people especially teenagers refused to wear eyeglasses even if there was a vision problem. The reason was that eyeglasses at that time were quite disappointing in terms of appearance. Nerd eyeglasses could hardly gain wide acceptance among average folks. Prescription eyeglasses gain public acceptance gradually along with the process of eyewear style improvement. Today, there are even many people take eyeglasses and sunglasses solely as accessories. During this progression, it is a general trend that modern eyewear styles are more attractive than those old-fashioned ones. But there have been some classic styles playing a nerdy and retro role interactively from time to time.

Horn-rimmed eyeglasses are the best example. First becoming popular in U.S. in 1910s and 1920s, they were later considered as nerd eyeglasses in the 1940s. Then they regained popular as a retro style in the 1950s. Renaissance like this occurred several times in its history. And today, these glasses are typically representing a retro style. The implication of this example is that a typical frame style may experience changes in popularity in different times. An ever nerd model may become later as a retro one.


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