It was in the early 1990’s, after stumbling across a trunk full of vintage frames made by the Kirk Optical company in the 1950’s and 1960’s, that the idea for Kirk Originals began to take shape.
For the new Kirk Originals Made in England collection we went back to those decades, the original inspirations for Kirk Originals, and the original ethos of Kirk Originals to re-create and update those 1950’s and 1960’s classic sunglasses shapes in modern materials.
The Kirks had been making eyewear in London since 1919, but it was in the 1950’s, with the growth of international travel and the emerging jet-set that sunglasses began to be worn by the rich and famous. Appearing in iconic movie scenes which still have a huge influence on mens style today, distinctive shapes in sunglasses became firmly embedded in the consciousness of the public and associated with particular film stars.
Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock‘s North by Northwest, in his grey bespoke flannel suit and sunglasses with their distinctive sweep to the brow, is still one of the most popular images to be referenced when defining classic mens style and has been since the film was released in 1959.
The swept brow was a popular style as sunglasses became more widely worn through the Fifties and into the sixties, and is re-interpreted by Kirk Originals today in our new Made in England collection in the form of Harvey. A more subtle take for today, Kirk Originals’ Harvey will definitely up your Cary Grant factor.
In Britain, stars like Michael Caine were leading the way in mens style on the cinema screens. Caine took classic British tailoring into light colours and weights to maintain his English style and cool when travelling in Mediterranean temperatures. Throughout the 60s, and in films such as The Italian Job Caine wore bespoke English suits courtesy of master tailor Doug Hayward. Equally as memorable are Michael Caine’s sunglasses, substantial frames and with a strong brow.
Kirk Originals Stamp sunglasses, made in England and are a sixties inspired take on this style and look effortless with a Savile Row suit for a sharp 60’s look with more than a hint of classic London cool.
First starting to make their name with early appearances in small roles in Westerns, the sixties would come to be the decade when there were two men alone who arguably could claim the title King of Cool. They dressed well, had beautiful wives, a taste for the best watches, drove great cars and had an air and attitude about them. In other words they had cool in undeniable amounts. Anti-establishment, the characters they played weren’t exactly always 100% good guys which only added to their appeal.
Their personal interest in fast cars and motor racing would led into them making some of the most iconic movies of all time where they wore Aviator styles that reflected the go faster lifestyle they were living. Steve McQueen and Paul Newman realised the ultimate expression of their personal passions in films like McQueen’s Le Mans and Paul Newman’s Winning.
Inspired by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, and the classic aviators they wore we have created Reed, the Kirk Originals take on Aviator Sunglasses.
Part of our Made in England collection, each pair of Reed sunglasses are made individually to a bespoke standard. Made from Italian acetate and handcrafted in our workshops in England we have added substance to the style, a touch that we think strong characters like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen would have appreciated.