Glasses? On Jermyn Street? Oh My….
Cubitts are bringing their elegant straight to consumer glasses shop to one of London’s most illustrious – if traditional – menswear thoroughfares
Article by Nicolas Payne-Baader
Cubbitts, the latest success story of the affordable, straight to consumer, glasses game has opened up a new shop on Jermyn Street. Normally this would send tie pinned and pocketed gentlemen into something approaching whatever the English equivalent of the vapours is. Any change in one of St James’s more hallowed streets tends to arouse a strange level of rage. A spectacle maker on Jermyn Street is probably not quite as offensive as Abercrombie and Fitch opening on Savile Row – for which there’s almost definitely still weekly support groups below Anderson and Sheppard – but still it’s just not the done thing.
To its credit, Cubitts has not just opened up some shop, they have opened an absolutely beautiful, well designed and sympathetic shop. One that instantly fits with Jermyn Street without aping a style or being a Mr.Ripley type dodgy impersonator. What may well help is that this particular space used to be a shop as uselessly small as it was incomprehensibly dark. I admit I may have an axe to grind here; at the age of 17, I was appointed manager and sole proprietor of this space in what was then Duchamp’s outpost on Jermyn Street. The good bit was that the shop was so unpopular that I managed to read several books per week and did once shut for about an hour (that may be an exaggeration) in the middle of the afternoon to have sex in the fitting room. The bad bit was that it was also the retail equivalent of being in solitary confinement, although solitary confinement almost certainly has fewer floral shirts.
Anyway the shop space, once so dark and poorly designed has had a complete transformation, design firm DR.AW was enlisted for the job and have managed to tastefully and impressively revamp the entire space. The floor is a geometric design inspired by Isaac Newton who lived on the street in the 17th century, the sign is hand gilded on glass by Alex May-Hughes using a traditional Boston Guild technique. The entire facade has been changed, adding tiling and curved glass windows with hardwood joinery and glazed tiles to bring it back to something which looks far more at home on the street that what it replaced.
The glasses are also not lost within the glory of the fit; the shop is now home to the 16 piece “St.James’s Collection” comprising of takes on classic frames and can be made to order in an absurdly large 175 different colour schemes. The shop also offers the brand new Algha collection of made to order 18 carat rolled gold frames, in case the sign has given anyone aspirations towards more gold on their frontage.
Whilst many brands have popped up in this brave new market of straight to consumer product no one can yet hold a light to the forward thinking intelligence and innovative sensibility of Cubbitts. Now we just have to hope that they’ve hired a manager with a better work ethic than I ever had.
Enquires: Cubitts, 68 Jermyn Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6NY / 0207 9300100 / www.cubitts.co.uk/