For over 50 years now, Cutler and Gross has been at the forefront of optical design, as a trailblazer, disrupter and pioneer whose legacy has been much imitated, but never surpassed.
A brand built on friendship, it was established by opticians Mr Cutler and Mr Gross in 1969. What began in London’s Knightsbridge as a small but innovative bespoke service soon became a fully fledged Mecca for artists, rock stars, writers and royalty.
By making glasses fashionable, Cutler and Gross altered the faces of generations. The duo didn’t just make glasses – they were optical architects in pursuit of a product so intrinsically iconic that no external logo or branding was necessary. ‘People who need glasses don’t have to feel separated from glamour,’ said Tony Gross. ‘It’s nice if glasses can be sexy and mysterious. If you’re wearing Cutler and Gross glasses, you’re the only one who knows’.
Last year was challenging and certainly accelerated changes that were already happening in the industry. Owning its own factory in the Italian Dolomites, a region renowned for optical manufacturing excellence, allowed a degree of control, enabling the brand to shape its own destiny. Leveraging the capabilities of its bespoke design studio and factory, it was able to make the most of its outstanding craftspeople to maintain and continually push the quality of design the brand is renowned for. Passionate about continually investing in-house, this is a vertically integrated brand that does not outsource its processes. It controls its own image, communication, design, distribution, and production, allowing it to focus on delivering exactly what it envisages direct to its customers, without compromise.
Having a vast design archive that spans half a century, the brand is able to evolve each frame to suit the faces and lifestyles of today’s discerning customers. Authentic, specific details and sculptural contours are reinterpreted but never lost. It is a methodology that guarantees the brand DNA will always remain. Bringing heritage to life takes time – months in fact – involving 42 separate steps – all of which are guided or completed by experienced hands.
Some of the Cutler and Gross technicians have worked for the company since the 1960s. The mastery of such an intricate process, which they have honed over decades, affords them the title of experts in frame-making. No two frames of the same style number will ever be identical, but this is the Cutler and Gross way; it gives every pair of glasses a certain unmistakable character.