Retro chic and vintage style eyewear has been part of the eyewear collections for the past couple of seasons and looks set to continue (we’ve had a sneak preview of Etnia, Xavier Garcia, Face à Face). Of course, there will be examples of this aplenty right across the road this weekend at Bingley Music Live.
NHS Specs conjures up images of heavy black frames with breakages held together with sellotape (note-please don’t superglue your specs.It probably won’t work and if it does, we can’t get it off the lenses or even get the lenses out of the frame to transfer into something else!)
There was a ‘choice’ of ten styles.
Do you remember as a child, wearing the 524 (all NHS frames had a three digit code) in ‘crystal flesh’ or ‘ice blue’? (Some of us at Kenyon’s wore these)
The Government set out the design criteria as ‘they must cover everything clinically necessary for the patient, be of good quality, but no luxurious standard of appearance’
Opticians were not allowed to advertise the NHS ‘free range’.
By 1950 the Dept of Health had spent £22 million on 5 million eye tests and 7.5 million pairs of specs. Most people opted for the 524 frame and they were very much bespoke. Each frame could be ordered in a range of bridge widths, lens sizes and side lengths.
Universally loathed at the time, the high quality of the NHS frame has meant that many frames have survived and are now considered retro chic.
Following the Health and Social Security Act in 1984, NHS specs were only supplied to children and low income groups. The NHS free range was discontinued and the voucher system that we still have today, offers patients a sum towards the specs of their choice.