Go back to article: Rather unspectacular: design choices in National Health Service glasses

NHS frames style revival in the twenty-first century

The discussion of design change and its associated histories of fashion trends and styles is implicit here, although it is relegated to the limited private market in Britain during this period. Fashion histories of glasses predominantly consider sunglasses or frames produced for the European or American market (Murray and Albrechtsen, 2012). The complete change in administration of eyecare and provision of glasses brought circumstances for development of new fashionable styles of eyeglasses. With historical distance, scheme styles from the NHS range of glasses are being re-invented and have fashionable appeal for a new generation. Many of the frames that were produced to be durable, practical medical items under the scheme have survived. As Neil Handley, curator of the British Optical Association Museum notes: ‘The high quality of NHS spectacles has meant, however, that many frames have survived to the present day and they have now taken on a new identity...as desirable retro-chic eyewear’ (Handley, 2014). The frame style 524 has particular appeal and is also being reproduced by new manufacturers; and there is a popularity of the style in markets abroad. The fashion trends for vintage or retro styles have contributed to this popularity; fashion historian Elizabeth Guffey discusses the theory behind this trend in Retro, and examples can be seen in the literature for spectacle collectors by Andressen, Murray and Albrechtsen.[59]

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170703/012