In my time in optics, I’ve seen brands come and go, I’ve seen the big house manufacturers shift from good design to total mass production, and the sadness of old independent eyewear selling up.
But in the maelstrom of change in optical design, there has been one reliable constant: The Kirk family. Their signature flair and flamboyance punctuate the decades of British eyewear and they celebrated 100 years in optics in 2019.
The Kirk Brothers all decked-up (before Dabbing was a thing)
It all began in 1919 when two brothers, Sidney and Percy Kirk, who had ambition and the will to pursue excellence and innovation, upcycled a ramshackled sewing-machine into a fine lens-cutter (hipsters, eat your heart out).
The roaring-twenties was a time for families to embrace a new lifestyle and taste new luxuries with development in automobiles, the advent of radio and incredible talking pictures.
Why frown when you can smile? An early Kirk Brothers advert.
Everything was abuzz with excitement and the Kirk Brothers caught that entrepreneurial spirit!
They built a strong reputation for manufacture and design, but they would not rest there. Their couriers were the first to deliver by motorbike, roaring through the streets of 1920s London. Innovative practise was in the Kirks’ blood.
Kirk Brothers, London, the photo was shot just as the motorcycle whisked away
Fast forward three generations, and that sparkle of creativity lives on, through the husband and wife team of Jason (Sidney’s grandson) and Karen. Better known as Kirk & Kirk, the family’s innovative legacy endures.
Karen and Jason Kirk sporting their latest creations from the Centena collection.
This year in 2019, Kirk & Kirk released the Centena collection and WOW! They are a sight to behold. Ten styles named after people connected with the Kirk family (yes Sidney and Percy are there) in ten different colours.
My maths isn’t what it once was and my 11 year old can embarrass me at a pinch – but I’m sure 10x10 = 100! Yep, 1 frame for every sumptuous year of the Kirk family’s contribution to British eyewear.
Celebrating the Centena (full video)
Having spoken with Jason at MIDO in 2018, I saw a twinkle in his eye and he almost let slip a secret that he was resolutely guarding. I think it’s safe to assume that the secret is out and is for every free spirit to share.
New shapes and new colours to inspire!
Needless to say, as one of the first stockists in the UK, we’ve got quite the collection in store – and it has just been bolstered by some fresh new colourways and shapes, including a few pieces seen worn by Prue Leith. Seeing is believing, so head over to Spectacle Emporium to find your perfect Kirk & Kirk eyewear.
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