Viewpoint: Diary of a spectacle designer
Tom Davies reflects on a month that included near appearances on the red carpet and at a trade show, watching football with sheep and being burgled at home and work
Author: Tom Davies
Writing this diary each month is a fantastic way for me to take stock of events and at some point I’ll read them all back and be grateful I took time to document the moments that shaped my work life. Of course, work and home are always overlapping, at least with me, and the last four weeks have seen glory, disappointment and despair. I finally understand the phrase ‘life is a rich tapestry’.
Let’s start with the glory. I wrote last month about my anticipation of watching the film Cruella and seeing my eyewear on the big screen. I should have been heading over to Los Angeles for the world premiere but instead that weekend I was going on another epic adventure; camping in Devon.
I’d sent over 200 sunglasses from the film to the people attending the premier in my absence and Disney reported 22 million activations from attendees on social media. #tdtomdavies had finally gone viral. The film has been a big success and the global press have been extremely kind about the outfits and eyewear in general. I got special mentions in magazines from all over the world as well as major newspapers (The Washington Post was my favourite) but I think the comment which made me most proud was on Facebook from an optician in the US, it read ‘finally, a film which has decent eyewear in’, which was promptly followed up with comments about Tom Davies. I’ll get back to Cruella in a moment, as life imitates art later in the month.
At the campsite, I took a portable projector to show the Brentford FC play-off final. We won promotion to the Premier League. Worth mentioning here you might wonder? Well, I’d recently done a sponsorship deal with Brentford FC to be their official eyewear partner. I’ve hired 10 young, long term out of work, local people and I’m training them to be frame makers. Their first project after initial training is to make sunglasses for our local team. The Brentford players are coming in to help in the factory for a photoshoot and, in return for the sunnies, I’ve got a press campaign that includes digital screens around the ground. It fair to say this is worth significantly more with promotion to the Premier League. Watching the game with a few hundred sheep on a farm was a win-win shall we say.
Onto the disappointment? Okay, if I must. I had planned to come back from camping and be dropped off at Heathrow to catch a flight to Florida for our first trade show since before… well, you know. Expectation and anticipation for the show, which had moved from New York to Florida where Covid restrictions were significantly more relaxed, was high. I’d booked a first class flight with the two million air mile stash I can never spend and to say I was looking forward to this is an understatement. Not only for the novelty of travel but from a business perspective, I have three new brands to sell in America. I needed to be there to see our top customers, interview sales reps and meet the press.
Unfortunately Joe Biden said no. Us Brits simply are not allowed to travel into the US by presidential decree. Other countries can go to America but not the most vaccinated country in Europe. What did Boris Johnson just say about an ‘indestructible relationship’ with our American cousins? Pah! So I sent my new collections over by UPS and attended by Zoom on a laptop for the occasional meeting but it wasn’t the same.
The show was busy but we didn’t write much business. Certainly not enough to justify the trade show fees and the experience left me wondering about the role of trade shows in a post Covid-19 world.
On to despair. This weekend we were planning to take part in London Fashion Week via my Chelsea store. Last night thieves lobbed a block of concrete through the window and proceeded to clear out the shelves. I’ve a video of the event, which makes for chilling and upsetting viewing. The burglars are at least respecting Covid regulations in my store and wearing full face masks. This makes the CCTV useless. Honestly, has anyone ever had a good result from CCTV? I have a video of my son’s bike being pinched from home last week. I’ve video of someone sliding frames in their pocket last month and there was just not enough there for the police to do anything about it. Maybe I’ll put it on social media and it will go viral. In fact, maybe the Daily Mail (who called me for a story) will get me so much publicity that I’ll get a host of new customers flocking to buy my glasses. It’s important to look for the silver lining in the rich tapestry of life.