The best eyewear companies these days recognize that glasses aren’t just for practicality anymore – they also play a big part in revealing someone’s personality and style. Enter Niloca – a boutique Australian brand making confident and cheeky frames for people who aren’t afraid to stand out a little differently from the crowd.
Founded in 2011, the Melbourne-based brand is led by Colin Redmond, an award-winning industrial designer who formerly worked for Audi as part of the iconic TT-model design team. Now lending his expertise to eyewear, Redmond’s philosophy is assertive and artistic, combining patterns, finishes and materials in new and unexpected ways.
We caught up with Redmond recently to find out more about the brand, their latest designs, and why he’ll never make a pair of frames out of wood…
Niloca frames are available in a handful of distinct collections, which all speak to the refinement and craftsmanship of traditional design, but amp it up with a fresh, quirky and colourful spirit.
We love the “Convert” collection, which is anything but under the radar. Handmade in France, the frames are constructed on a two-tone pallet with the thicker under-layer often taking a semi-translucent form. The shapes are stacked, with a classic round frame, for example, embedded into a boxy, oversized shell. Hidden elements are incorporated into the inside acetate that only the wearer can see, adding a personal touch to every pair.
The “Hyperfocus” collection was a critical darling at Silmo (the Paris optical show) this year. The frames are sculpted in France with a distinctive hooded top edge which is only perceivable as the wearer moves their head. The pentagonal-shaped lenses add another unique touch. Even a pair in classic black (seen above) conveys texture and warmth, offering – quite literally – a new perspective on what a “simple” pair of black frames can look like.
Our favourite collection though, is the Scratched Core Collection. First released at Silmo 2013, it’s an edgy and bold acetate collection that’s future-facing and graphic. As the name suggests, the frames feature an array of haphazard lines intersecting asymmetrically across the surface. The bespoke acetate is made exclusively for Niloca in France.
Redmond: Just to make it clear from the outset, we are not a couple of hipters making retro-style plastic frames in China. And we do not make frames in wood. In our humble opinion, making frames from wood is about as practical as making eyewear from cheese! A little rude I know, but have you ever tired fitting a wooden frame to a giant head?
By combining contemporary aesthetics with inspiration from 19th Century classical design theory, Redmond’s goal is to make every frame a work of art. To further ensure the uniqueness of the frames, the company only produces a limited number each season.
Niloca frames use materials like Water Buffalo Horn and vintage LAES and Mazzucchelli acetates. The frames above are part of the “Bigglesworth” collection, made from Japanese titanium and inspired by a nickname given to Redmond by his friends, for his pensive demeanour and politeness. The assembly of these titanium frames was modelled after old clocksmiths.
Redmond: Our frames are now all made in the Jura, France. This a valley the in Rhone Alps that specialises in eyewear production; one man makes frame fronts under his house, another inserts hinges, and another artisan down the road hand-crafts sheets of acetate. Workers are truly artisans and skills are passed between generations. A three-course lunch is a daily event and workers take immense pride in the frames they produce. I include this detailed description of manufacturing because it is very important to us and the Niloca brand.
Niloca is currently available in more than 40 boutiques worldwide, including a flagship store in Melbourne. From our point of view, the brand is only going to get bigger from here, with frames that people want to try on and have fun with (Note: We tried a few pairs on and they’re not as difficult to pull off as you’d think).
Redmond: Niloca is not about the mass production of fashionable, predictable frames. Rather, we have boutique production runs, typically 30 pieces for each colour. We’ll even make one-offs for our best clients. So we are not just a mum and dad business though we are certainly are mum and dad to two small children and one stubborn airedale terrier!
For more about the brand and to find out where Niloca is carried, head over to www.niloca.com.
eyewear: Thom Browne
notes: When we spotted Stephen riding his Segway near our apartment in head-to-toe Thom Browne, we knew we had to stop him for a photo. This Tb 501 model immediately sold out when it was first released, and has become somewhat of a collector’s piece for its chunky, block-like design, which is atypical of most Thom Browne frames.
These glasses are handcrafted in Japan and made from a zyl acetate, known for its strength and durability. Inspired by silhouettes from the 1960s, the oversized square frames make a bold statement. We love the contrast between the navy front and the white temples. As with all the pieces in the Thom Browne eyewear collection, the brand’s signature tricolor stripes are engraved at the temple tips.
eyewear: Barton Perreira
notes: We noticed Sebastien because of his Carven sweater, but it was his Barton Perreira frames that really drew us in. These Wayfarer-style frames feature a two-tone pattern, with matte black front and tortoiseshell temples. The acetate frames are free from any branding or logos, and riveting is kept to a simple gold plaque on the temples. We love the clean shape of the frames, which work well for men and women, and as optical or sunglasses. Just like Sebastien’s outfit, these are the type of specs that get your attention – casual yet refined, with little details that keep you looking.
eyewear: Cheap Monday
notes: Klaartje only started wearing glasses this year, so she knew she had to pick a pair of frames that would not only be stylish, but would also be comfortable enough for her to wear every day. When you’ve gone through most of your life frame-free, it’s important to find something you’ll actually want to put on.
It ended up being between these Cheap Monday frames and a pair from Chanel. Klaartje loves Scandinavian design and decided to go with these streamlined specs. Photographed in Antwerp outside of the store Verso (which we visited on recommendation from Gemma), Klaartje looks chic and smart with the square-shaped frames. The burgundy color adds a nice touch – not too boring but not too out there either, ensuring that this will be a pair of glasses that she can wear for years to come.
We’ve just arrived home after an amazing few days at SLIMO – the annual eyewear trade show in Paris for exhibitors and enthusiasts alike. While we saw a number of cool, forward-thinking brands at the show, few kept our attention like Cutler and Gross. Their new collection for spring/summer 2015 was so consistent in its concept, styling and execution that we couldn’t wait to share some images with you.
For spring, Cutler and Gross took inspiration from its British roots – specifically, the cast of characters from the Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover, by British artist Peter Blake. The metal and acetate frames in the collection play off a 60s motif, that combine the unflappable, laidback cool of Bob Dylan with the sophistication of Marlene Dietrich. With geometric shapes, sharp lines and playful details, the new frames are as colourful and diverse as the characters on the album cover themselves.
We love the “1162,” which elevates the cat-eye shape with luxury metal detailing and contrasting colour combinations. This “Northern Lights” colourway features a translucent acetate that gives off a novel take on traditional black and white. The black corners perfectly accent and frame the eyes. These glasses are primed to be a show stopper with bold, graphic lines, and a sultry, feline-esque aesthetic.
A modern take on the classic 1960s round shape, the “1136″ frame (a.k.a. the “Eclipse”) is vibrant, sexy and original. The Eclipse is created from the finest Italian acetate and framed with a precision milled metal halo. This “Angel Pearl” colourway is fitted with 18ct Rose Gold Lenses. The look is romantic and delicate, yet confident and assured.
For men, we like the subtlety of the new “1170″ model, inspired by Oscar Wilde. Lightweight with a slim profile, there’s a calm poetic essence to these frames, which are especially captivating in this “Persian Blue” colourway. It’s a more interesting and advanced take on traditional tortoiseshell, while retaining its wearability. The look is smart and savvy, with modern, artistic influences.
Guys looking for a slightly more adventurous style will appreciate the sporty yet sophisticated vibe of the “1166.” The flat-top frame is given a makeover with a slightly curved brow-line and Wayfarer-style lenses. We like this “Aviator Blue” shade, which is a fresh take on a neutral colour. It’s perfect if you’re looking for an alternative to brown or black, without going over the top.
Our last favourite pair: the “1155,” which ups the ante with octagonal-shaped lenses that call to mind 1960s psychedelic glamour and a revolutionary spirit (not to mention John Lennon’s signature specs). Made from high-quality metal, the frames feature polarized mirrored lenses and engraved markings. Don’t let the unusual shape fool you – this could be a popular unisex style for spring, working as a new classic that channels the ease of black sunglasses with a cool, retro-inspired design.
To see all the styles in the Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2015 collection, visit CutlerandGross.com.