There’s a brand new boutique optician on High Bridge in Newcastle, a street famed for it’s cobbled road and funky, offbeat independent stores and coffee shops (Laneway & Co anyone?). But what exactly is a boutique optician? I hear you ask, well Voyeurs, let me tell you….
If you follow me on social media you’ll know that I was invited along to the Christmas launch party at Op & Tom (formerly CrossEyes), if you don’t follow me on social media, then shame on you, (and fix that right now). So, I went along for a night of live music and glasses trying on in an uber cool environment like no other optician you’ve ever visited before. First off, Op & Tom is a Danish concept, there are no designer frames here. If you’re looking for Tom Ford or Chanel then you’re in the wrong place, Op & Tom is about being different, it’s about standing out for having THE most stylish frames at an affordable fixed price, everything you see is Op & Tom’s own stylish brand.
I took up optician Tim’s offer of a free eye test (they’re free to everyone not just yours truly), after confessing that my last eye test was a little over ten years ago and attended with gritted teeth. The Op & Tom store is a real treat, it’s a small space but it’s utilised so well that it feels big, with a raw wood floor, and fittings made from pipes and scaffolding poles, the decor pitches the shop in the same ballpark as The Boilershop. It has that perfect brand new but worn in look that’s in vogue right now and so hard to achieve, eyewear frames line the walls and an old Singer sewing table (minus the machine) serves as a desk for consultations. All in all, it’s a pretty cool place to be for something as mundane as an eye test.
In a room at the back of the store is some super high tech machinery that scans your eyes James Bond style to determine the strength of your prescription (if you need one), it’s all very ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and for a moment I think I might be being given some kind of eye focussed super power, (x-ray vision perhaps or that weird Terminator vision) as a machine blows a precise puff of air into each eye. But sadly not, I’m given what I probably should have had nine years ago – a prescription for lenses.
This isn’t bad news – I’m a big lover of glasses as a fashion accessory, I used to wear them in school when I didn’t need to purely for the look, and Op & Tom is a glasses lovers dream. In fact, I dare say it could convert a few of you who hate wearing glasses too. With a huge selection of frames in different colours, shapes and finishes, the important thing is that there is something here that suits everyone’s face type and lifestyle needs.
My prescription is very minor and it’s only required for close work such as reading and writing (so only my whole life then) and I actually find myself a little disappointed that I won’t get to wear these glasses outside of those activities – don’t do it kids, it gives you headaches.
Trying on frames in Op & Tom could take up a whole afternoon, there are tame, more everyday styles for the discerning spectacle wearer, these are sleek, stylish and very light to wear. Then there are slightly more daring frames in brighter colours and bold shapes. Lastly there are the ‘out there’ frames, this is my section, consider me Head Girl of this section, these are the frames for people who want to scream “Hey, I wear glasses, look at my cool glasses, did you notice my awesome glasses??” Because that’s exactly what they are. Awesome. None of the frames in Op & Tom are garish, there are no Dame Edna Everage dupes here, just bold, well designed, fashion frames created to be seen and worn with pride.
It’s a tough choice to select just one pair of frames, especially with a collection this diverse. I narrow it down to two favourites, both very different, before settling on a pair that I fell in love with at the Christmas party. Bamboo topped and kinda reminiscent of the Ray-Ban Clubround, they’re a smokey grey colour and if I do say so myself, they’re pretty damn perfect – and I look aces in them. To top off this awesome choice, Tim tells me that they’re limited edition and that this is the only pair (high five moment). That’s another thing about Op & Tom, they’re never stagnant – new collections arrive at the store regularly to ensure the brand is fresh and always following fashion led trends as well as fast turnover micro trends which apply to eyewear too.
Op & Tom don’t just deal in prescription eyewear though Voyeurs, you can choose to have any of the frames in store fitted with regular glass to wear as a fashion accessory for just £85. In fact, the day that my glasses are ready for collection is my birthday and the Op & Tom Newcastle team have a little surprise for me….. Remember the two pairs I couldn’t decide between? They had the other pair made up with fashion lenses as a birthday present for me – I knew I liked these guys!
Interested in finding out whether Op & Tom can help you? You’ll find them at High Bridge, Newcastle offering free eye tests throughout the day.
You’re welcome folks.