The rise of British eyewear manufacturing

Zoe Cosby investigates how Eyewear.Ltd is on a mission to bring bespoke handmade frames back into popularity

Luis Fonseca and Mila Chielman

Nestled deep in the heart of Hackney, London, is a bustling little workshop, where two friends and peers are quietly bringing a new wave of enthusiasm and talent to British eyewear manufacturing. Eyewear.Ltd is run by Luis Fonseca and Mila Chielman who specialise in small production runs of handmade eyewear, bespoke and custom designs for private and commercial clients, prototyping, vintage and handmade glazing, as well as training initiatives for budding eyewear enthusiasts. They are ambitious, kind and unfalteringly passionate about the industry, their craft, and the people they surround themselves with.

The pair met at Cubitts, the brand started by Tom Broughton in 2012. Under the guidance of Matthew Havercroft, a master frame-maker, who is their mentor and great friend, they diligently listened, watched and studied the discipline of handmaking eyewear. It may have been Havercroft who generously helped hone and refine their talent, but their affection and ambition for the industry started long before this meeting. Fonseca’s training began when his father introduced him to a glazing machine at the impressionable age of just nine years old. His intrigue was instant. ‘Everything started from there,’ Fonseca says. ‘He taught me the craft of optical manufacturing, from glazing to sales to refraction and more. Back then, it was mainly glass lenses that had to be cut to shape so as you can imagine a lot of handwork and water... a lot of water.’

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