Oliver Goldsmith is a British eyewear design company established in London in 1926 by Phillip Oliver Goldsmith. Under the directorship of his son Charles "Oliver" Goldsmith, grandsons Andrew Oliver and Raymond, and great-granddaughter Claire Goldsmith, the brand became known worldwide for its innovative designs for glasses and sunglasses worn by celebrities such as Diana Dors and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn's famous sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany's were a Oliver Goldsmith design.
We catch up with Oliver to learn more about his fascinating past and what is exciting him about the optical industry today.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Oliver Goldsmith and I am third generation of the Oliver Goldsmith Company. I started working for my Father in 1959 and had to complete a five year apprenticeship before I was allowed to design spectacles and sunglasses. It was in 1964 (London in full swing as the capital of fashion) that my first design called RIP was launched and to my surprise, was selected by Lord Snowden for his every day glasses.
What’s the story behind your latest collection?
Actually I have two Collections: for the UK it is called the PHOTOGRAPH Collection all my designs from the past, now handmade in Italy. The other Collection is called OGxOLIVERGOLDSMITH (OGX) and these designs are made under licence in Japan and are specifically for the Japanese and Asian markets.
What’s your best way to get creative unstuck?
I suppose meditation is the answer. I don’t follow trends and create them. Quite often I would wake up in the night and get up to start drawing shapes and when exhausted, go back to bed and review my sketches in the morning with my Pattern Maker. We would choose the best of them and then make counter samples in acetate. These would be checked and modified as required. My Father (Oliver II) would have to approve all designs before going into production. In the 1960’s all our frames/sunglasses would be completely handmade and is was’nt until the 1970’s that we started semi mass production.
Which frames in your collection are your favourite and why?
Well........ Rip being my very first design, followed by President a design that I created for Michael Caine to wear in his film called The Ipcress File, Vice Consul that was worn by Peter Sellers for his “outside” film use. He was short sighted ! Hope was worn by Princess Grace of Monaco (part of a collection of 45 pairs of OG’s that she collected over the years) Charlie (a replica of the metal frame worn by John Lennon, based on a NHS design)
As for sunglasses, then it would have to be Audrey Hepburn (in the film Two for the Road; I was asked to create the largest wearable sunglass. Quite a nightmare as oversized sunglass lenses were not available and therefore had to be made specially. There were also a host of pop stars: Lulu, Sandy Shaw, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) Nancy Sinatra, Peter Lawford to name but a few.
What key trends in optical collections for 2018 are you noticing or particularly liking?
Very thin metal frames and also acetate in equal percentages. There is also a trend for combination frames
Size wise, everything goes from very small retro designs to modern larger shapes. For me I just love picking from my Archive Collection of over 600 designs, to release what I think will be appreciated by the public, who are today, my rising stars.
Who is your favourite eyewear designer that's not you?
Porsche designs......... say no more !
What career advice would you give your 18 year-old self?
To remember “100%” to incorporate Q E C into every design: Quality, Elegance and Comfort. Why ? Quality is so important as you are spending a lot money and you want a frame that will last many year. Elegance because I was taught that you must never make a woman in particular look stupid in glasses, since she has paid a lot of money; face jewellery is the name of the game and for men, face furniture ! Nothing appeal more than to be told, you look lovely (handsome) in your specs. Finally Comfort; so important that frames fit well on the face, otherwise you will have a constant stream of complaints to the Optician, and all that brings are negative vibes. So learn your trade and accept that an apprenticeship is worth its weight in gold.
Which country are you having particular success in? Why do you think that is?
Japan....... I started working with Tak Ashida (Mari Vision/Osaka) under a licencing agreement for him to re-created my Original & Genuine Oliver Goldsmith Collection (as I have over 600 designs in my Archive, that would not be a problem for find the best shapes) This collection is known as OGOG and three years ago we launched a “preppy” line called OGxOliverGoldsmith known as OGX. I travelled to Japan 4 times a year for 10 years starting in 2004 to promote my name and designs. Consequently we are quite well known in the optical profession. We are also represented in Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, China, Thailand and Malaysia all through the Japanese Licensee. Arigato (thank you in Japanese)
What are your thoughts on the 100% Optical show and why is it important for your business?
100% Optical has made going to shows fun again. It has grown and grown in popularity over the last few years with more and more opticians attending from all parts of the world. From a designer and suppliers perspective 100% Optical is vital to open new accounts and to understand the latest frame styles.
In March 2018 we re launched the Photograph Collection that as I have mentioned above, is handmade in Italy and geared to the UK market (pus overseas if requested) The idea for the collection to be called Photograph came from a photo album of my Grandfather, where he had the word photographs printed on the cover and had the O & G linked in the word. I thought that was a nice tribute to my Grandfather for having started the OG Company back in 1926 and to my daughter Alex (a professional photographer) who assists me by taking all the photographs of the frames and is a great help at the Trade Shows. Alex will be at 100% Optical to help promote the Collection. To special order UK Opticians can order designs from the Japanese OGOG and OGX Collections.
Oliver Goldsmith are distributed by 'Ridgway Optical Supplies'.
UNIT 6 THE SPINNEY
ALKERTON OAKS BUSINESS PARK