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Getting milk in Italy? All in a days work for our customers!

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We get a lot of questions about how The Old Glasses Shop actually works - this mainly relates to whether our stock is new or used, where does it come from etc. So here goes!

In June I was fortunate enough to have a trip around Italy looking for glasses. I know, its tough but I do it for you, our customer. Fortunately my wife is also a Director of the business and so she made the sacrifice too.

Italy used to be THE eyewear capital of the world and still has a huge number of eyewear businesses based there (although most don’t manufacture there anymore… no prizes for guessing where that happens!).

I am terrible with languages. I can just about muster the basics - hello, goodbye, please and thank you - in Italian, but not much more. But I like to try. After all, infant school hand gestures and making a stab at pronunciation are part of the fun of foreign travel, even if you do look a complete idiot.
I also get tripped up by Italian words we use here in the UK - I asked for a Latte in a cafe in Bergamo and got a glass of milk. All good fun.

Old GLasses Shop - blog Italy milk

As such it was a great relief to find that there was always someone who spoke english at the businesses we went to.


Many of the companies I visited used to manufacture and still have stocks of frames sitting on their premises - in one case some of these dated back to the 1950s! Most of the brands were certainly well known and highly respected in their day, even if some names no longer exist.

This is the sort of stock, from all over the world, that forms the backbone of what we sell at The Old Glasses Shop - branded, genuinely high quality frames made in Italy, Japan, Austria, Germany, France, the UK etc. etc. This type of stock isn’t retro (i.e. made today to the same design as years ago), it is the ‘real thing’ - it IS from years ago. And its bloody fantastic stuff.

From the quality of materials to the standard of finish I am always reminded of the cliche “they don’t make them like they used to”. I feel better just looking at them!


On this trip we also had a major surprise. We uncovered an unexpected gem. A tiny young business in the northern hills that hand makes some of the best frames I have ever encountered.

The region used to be known for its wood carvings - both decorative and practical - and so it is fitting that this company make eyewear out of wood. If that conjures up visions of heavy, thick, clumsy designs that make you look like you left the opticians wearing the test equipment then you couldn’t be more wrong.
They are a gloriously brilliant blend of artisan skills with modern design and technology, strength and lightness. From men using electric hand drills to perfect shapes, to women using sand paper to smooth edges by hand (apparently they have found women do this best), we were genuinely knocked out by this little business. They are very big on sustainability too, from the wood to the packaging - "We could buy at a fifth of the price we pay but it goes against what we believe in". If you want to see the designs they created for us and read more about them see here http://www.theoldglassesshop.co.uk/feb31st/ (opens in new window).  We have one of each design, after that they are (beautifully) hand made to order.

It did turn out to be a very expensive visit - my wife fell in love with the model “Jacky” glasses and ordered some on the spot … when we got back, our daughter absolutely adored them and wants a pair for her birthday!