In The City: NYC & The Eyewear Industry

New York - one of the major fashion capitals of the world, and a place where many iconic fashion trends were started and popularized. The city and its many boroughs have been the epitome of culture, creativity, and individuality throughout history. A city of hustlers, entrepreneurs, and innovators of different classes and genders helped to cement eyewear as the most essential accessory, for not only fashion but function. Let's take a deeper dive into the history of New York City and the city's effect on fashion and eyewear. 

18th Century

For over 300 years, the design of eyeglasses mostly remained the same. It wasn't until the early 1700s that Benjamin Franklin made one of the most significant contributions to eyewear, the bifocal, a concept still used today. Now, what was going on in NYC during this time? Newly seized territory from the Dutch later served as the capital of the United States and was thus renamed New York. The city was bustling with immigrants, new businesses, and prosperity. Additionally, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, NYC became the epicenter for anti-British activity and served as one of the birthing places for the revolution. At this time, eyewear was still reserved for leaders and religious figures, meaning that some of the first and most iconic glasses were worn by the very men who pioneered the beginning of a new world. 

19th Century

After the war, New York became one of the nation's most important and largest ports, and with the introduction of the Eerie Canal, the city became a trade capital and home to many new immigrants who became business owners and politicians. The start of the Industrial Revolution ramped up production and thrust eyewear into the hands of middle-class individuals who could afford them, however, the trends still trickled down from the top. With many important public figures, including a few US presidents sporting the sophisticated look, many were in search of popular sleek round metal glasses and often held them as prized possessions. 

Embassy 101 #54353

20th Century

At the turn of the 20th century, eyewear and NYC became much of what we know and love today. Originally independent cities: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island consolidated with Manhattan to become the five-borough "Greater New York" area. This more than doubled the population and square mileage of the city! In the eyewear world, designers became more inventive with a heavier focus on style rather than function. More creative designs came about and even designs for children! Tinted glasses, whose invention dates back to the 12th century in China, were now beginning to hit the American mainstream during this period, and by way of the New York City port, sunglasses had become increasingly popular during the 1920s. Now is when see the famous cat-eye glasses and aviators begin to make an appearance. After plastic lenses hit the market in the 1980s, eyewear became an affordable option for all, and choices in design were infinite.  

Intergalactic - #81045

Intergalactic #81045

Today, those who wear glasses have plenty of options available, like the vintage styles that originated in NYC and affordable vintage-inspired styles made of plastic. Technological advances have led to blue-light filtering lenses that help to reduce the effects of digital eye strain, sunglass readers that host tinted and fully magnified lenses, or prescription-ready frames made from plant-based acetate that allows for the wearer to replace the lenses with their own prescription without sacrificing individuality and style! NYC is a constant site for both high fashion and bizarre style, hosting many of the world's largest annual fashion shows. The streets of New York can be looked at for inspiration for the fashion’s next trending moment. Looking for fashionable eyewear that embodies the visionary spirit of New York? Look no further than A.J. Morgan Eyewear for all your vintage-inspired eyewear needs. Whether you're looking for bizarre statement frames or modest designer styles we have a large collection of high-quality readers and sunglasses for both men and women