British eyewear brand Walter & Herbert sets its sights on luxury
Style and fashion expert Jake Daniels takes a detailed look at the high end British eyewear brand Walter & Herbert.
The growth and popularity of Brand Britain inspired one well-established eyewear studio to debut its own stylish heritage collection exclusively designed, manufactured and tested in England. In October 2015, The Optoplast Actman Eyewear Company, renowned in the industry for creating high-end ranges for brands including Nichole Fahri and Julien Macdonald, introduced Walter & Herbert.
What makes Walter & Herbert special is its unique marriage of loving craftsmanship, beautiful design and materials and, a 70 year legacy.
Walter & Herbert’s story began in 1946, when two young entrepreneurs, Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn, partnered to create Optoplast Manufacturing Company Limited. Together, the duo enjoyed great success and acclaim in the eyewear industry, developing the PIMO machine – an innovation that shaped the way spectacles were manufactured worldwide.
Fast forward, and today Walter’s grandson James and Herbert’s son Daniel, have control of the business reins. To pay homage to their ancestry and drawing on the company’s considerable international expertise, Optoplast launched Walter & Herbert in autumn 2015.
The inaugural 20-piece optical collection, for men and woman, is a beautifully crafted range. It draws inspiration from the very best of British heritage, with frames named after iconic figures such as Bronte, Churchill and Shakespeare. Every piece boasts striking colour combinations of the finest globally sourced acetates and smooth contours reminiscent of shapes from the 1940s, make the frames irresistibly tactile. The spectacles are stocked at a number of independent opticians spanning the UK, with prices starting from £200.
James Conway, CEO of The Optoplast Actman Eyewear Company Ltd, told me: “Walter & Herbert was years in the making, a culmination of three generations and seven decades of industry experience, talented designers and beautiful materials. Launching as we celebrate our 70th anniversary, made this opportune time for us.
“Made in England has been a defining theme for Walter & Herbert. Not only have we named our frames after notable figures in British history, but the collections have been lovingly designed by our team of designers in Surrey and manufactured in our Liverpool factory.
“Creativity is at the heart of what we do, and we’ve worked hard to handcraft a collection that is effortlessly stylish, wearable and affordable. We have a reputation for making innovative and trend-defining frames that are at the forefront of British eyewear design. With Walter & Herbert we’re offering a distinctive brand that is an exciting new addition to eyewear, carrying on the legacy of my grandfather and signalling a new chapter.”
At the end of last year, Walter & Herbert officially opened the doors to its flagship concept showroom in Seven Dials, London. Marking yet another exciting development in the company’s history, the store features the brand’s stunning optical range and from spring 2016, its sun wear collection. Located on 13 Monmouth Street, other made in England products, created by ‘friends of Walter & Herbert’ are also available to purchase including real leather notepads, keyrings and lambs’ wool scarves.
This March, Walter & Herbert unveils its highly-anticipated 11-piece sun wear collection. Featuring standout designs and innovative colourways, the range invites sun-worshipers to emulate the iconic style of key historical ladies and gentlemen including Florence Nightingale, Audrey Hepburn and Lewis Carroll.
Aimed at style-conscious men and women, the sunglasses will be available to purchase from Walter & Herbert’s Seven Dials store and independent opticians in the UK – priced from £220.
James concluded: “We’re incredibly pleased with how well Walter & Herbert has been received. The concept of Made in England is one that we are committed to in every way and formulating our brand around it has really resonated with our customers. The appetite for products that have been made in England is definitely not waning. We’ve had a very positive first six months and I’m excited to see what the next six months hold.”