See life in a more fashionable light with eyewear that combines classic West Coast design and modern style
As the age of 40 looms, something strange happens at dinner parties: reservations are made, menus are distributed… and then guests begin rummaging wildly through purses and pockets for their reading glasses. But now, thanks to an ingenious local fashion maven, that situation doesn't have be a source of embarrassment.
“Reading glasses don't have to be a burden of old age,” explains Robin Peterson of Vancouver’s Seymour and Smith. “Now, they are a chic accessory to help you see.”
Peterson toiled diligently away at school in Vancouver, graduating from UBC Sauder School of Business, before heading down to Los Angeles for a long stint in the fashion and accessory industry.
“Los Angeles is a fantastic market to work in but I also travelled abroad in Europe and Asia,” she explains. “I have learned from designers, manufacturers and artisans, so it truly helped broaden my perspective and create a strong network.”
When she settled back in Vancouver, inspiration hit. “The intention I have with this line of readers is to genuinely help people," says Peterson. "I noticed these vibrant, fashionable people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond feeling shame that they needed readers. It seemed to be a battle between the anxiety of not being able to see versus the risk of looking like a granny."
Recording artist Mary Zilba is a big fan of Seymour and Smith reading glassesTo alleviate the stigma associated with heavy, traditional reader styles, Peterson took cues from the city around her.
“Vancouver really is my inspiration for this collection,” she explains. “Clean design, natural materials and timeless shapes and colours are my aesthetic.”
Seymour and Smith’s designs (four are currently available) are simple but sophisticated. And pride in place is evident in both names and descriptions.
“My favourite frame right now is the Yaletown Yew,” says Peterson. “Sleek, modern lines and a great unisex frame in a blonde wood.”
And the hinged temples and cellulose construction mean a lighter, more durable product. “I know how readers are treated,” says Peterson. “In the purse, in the pocket, tossed on the table... I have one client who recently bought eight pairs for fear of losing them.”
Each of Seymour and Smith’s models reflects this thoughtful planning. In addition to the Yaletown Yew, the Downtown Brown—with its classic medium-brown hue—has emerged as a favourite of male customers; the Stanley Spruce mixes dark frames with wood temples; and the West Point Grey’s tortoise shell design is most popular with women.
Each set of frames run $65 plus applicable taxes, so they land firmly in between drugstore throwaways and pricey designer specs. Customizable lens strength, a hard case and a polishing cloth are also included as is shipping for orders over $100.
“It’s been really well-received. I seem to have hit a nerve,” says Peterson of her loyal—and growing—fan base.