We’re living in something of a golden age of frame design. From lightweight plastics that allow for comfortably fitting 60 mm-plus eye sizes to hingeless frames, to spring hinge frames with a 15-year guarantee, the sky has become the limit for new or reconceptualized frame styles.
By Preston Fassel
So why is it so hard for me to find a browline?
I have a long-time fixation with browline/clubmaster/combination frames. In the past six years alone, I’ve gone through three browline-style frames, including a private-label pair, a pair from New York Eye’s Ernest Hemingway line, and for nearly the past four years, Marc Ecko’s Snake Eyes (unfortunately, Clearvision has discontinued the line). With my Snake Eyes on their last legs (tails?) and wanting to change up my style, I’ve been on something of a quest for a new comfortable pair of browlines.
First, some preliminaries. With a hat size of 7 5/8, I require a large eye size or generous bridge for glasses to fit me comfortably. The corollary of that is I have a short square face that deep B measurements dwarf. I have also yet to find a pair of standard-hinge frames that either fit me comfortably or which an optician has been able to fit to me properly. So, spring hinges are a must. Considering the vast availability of frame sizes, styles and features, though, I figured the quest wouldn’t be too hard.
I’ve been looking for eight months, and I’m still in the Snake Eyes.My biggest stumbling block has been shape. Though many manufacturers offer nice browline models, many of them replicate the old-school square/semi-round shape as popularized by Shuron and Art-Craft, which invariably leave me looking swollen and puffy-cheeked. There are a few manufacturers that offer rectangular browlines—my ideal shape—but they tend to be on the smaller side. And then there are the lines that offer beautiful, well-shaped, well-fitting styles, but no spring hinges on a single model.
The curious thing is, in all my years of fitting people of various head shapes, sizes and requirements, I’ve never run into this problem with another style. I’ve been able to easily locate aviators, zyls and a myriad of other styles in shapes and sizes to fit the requests and needs of my patients. Browlines stand alone as a particularly difficult frame to find many variants on. I suppose it’s because the style went out of fashion for a time. After puttering out in the ’70s and a very brief and limited resurgence in the ’80s, the frames were ignored for nearly 30 years. They started trickling back around 2010 in the wake of “Mad Men’s” popularity. Considering demand for the style continues, isn’t it time for some diversification? So optisphere, please consider this both an open letter and a personal request: The world needs a wider array of browlines to choose from. XXL browlines. Spring hinge browlines. Rectangular browlines. A browline built for consumers of every shape, size and taste. And of course, a browline built for me.