As much as I enjoy shopping for trends on the high street, or for premium beauty products in Harvey Nichols, I do try to shop locally for gifts, interiors and investment pieces whenever I can. It’s important to support our independent retailers and local businesses (I even try to avoid chain coffee shops); without them, life becomes dull and our cities down trodden.
When the lovely ladies at Betty & Bee invited me to a blogger evening as part of the launch of new eyewear brand IOLLA, I was disappointed not to be able to make it – I recently started wearing glasses, so this was a particularly well timed invitation (or not, as it turned out). However, a few weeks later I was planning to visit Glasgow so I simply made an appointment at IOLLA via the website (the night before I was going!) and popped along to the showroom before brunch with Tatyana.
As I mentioned, I’ve been wearing specs for the last couple of years. Since turning 31 a couple of years ago (way worse than 30) a few things have gone downhill, including my eye sight – I now need specs to drive, watch TV and basically see clearly beyond fifteen feet. (This may explain why I blank old friends when they pass by at the supermarket.)
My current specs are by Karl Lagerfeld (a deal on buying two pairs at an online store) but, having recently lost* my second pair, the appointment at IOLLA couldn’t have come at a better time. The designs are very current (with some verging on ‘alternative’) and would satisfy any trendy specs wearer’s need for something cool. That said, by not going completely over the top on every design aspect, IOLLA has also managed to cater for people who simply want decent specs at affordable prices, without all the unnecessary drama and cost. The different components of the design process have been selected from across the world (to bring you the very best materials) but each frame is assembled with the lenses here in Scotland. All for just £65 for standard prescriptions (add £60 for double prescriptions and £80 for thinning), with anti glare and anti scratch coatings coming as standard. If you want sunglasses (whether prescription or not) the IOLLA team will add the dark tint. Et voila!
On entering the showroom, I was pleased to see there was a huge window to give natural light (so important when trying on specs), a large but not overwhelming display (as is often the case with opticians), and even a small area towards the back where customers can sit, enjoy a complimentary refreshment (Nespresso, please) while they consider which frames they want to take home. It’s not often you go shopping and feel totally at ease without any pressure to make a quick decision; at IOLLA they recognise that buying specs is a hugely personal choice and a decision to take time with until you are truly 100% comfortable.
I was given a run through of the IOLLA background and each frame, which are made with acetate as it’s softer and more flexible than plastic. After immediately eliminating a few styles (one very similar to my existing specs, one too large, and one too bold), I narrowed down my selection with the help of the lovely and knowledgeable assistant. After assessing the shape and size of my face and the different angles around my temple and jawline (thankfully, I wasn’t suffering from carb face that weekend), she knew exactly which of the IOLLA frames would suit me. Of course, her judgement was spot on and I loved the selection we ended up with. After a bit of preening in front of the mirror while trying on the final two pairs, we had a decision: the Paterson. (All of IOLLA’s frames are named after renowned Scotsmen – next season they’re introducing new styles which will be named after Scottish women). When it came to choosing between a matte brown or glossy tortoiseshell finish, I went with the tortoiseshell – as well as being a different colour to my existing specs, the light reflecting tortoiseshell brightened my complexion, lifting my entire face. Within forty minutes of arriving at IOLLA, I was done; the entire process was quick, easy and efficient. What’s more, the experience was actually enjoyable.
IOLLA is Gaelic for ‘to see’. As well as translating literally, IOLLA has helped me see in other ways; I understand more clearly the value in (and satisfaction you get from) shopping ‘locally’ and I see why it pays to spend a bit of time on finding the perfect pair of glasses for you. Stay tuned to see me wearing my new Paterson frames. Join the fun online by using the hashtag #SeeWithIOLLA – you might even win a pair!
*My lost specs were recently found, so now I have three pairs – although this doesn’t stop me wanting to order another pair from IOLLA asap…