New look

Writer Gemma Billington signs up for the tailor-made experience at Tom Davies Bespoke Opticians

19 August, 2019

Eyewear has come a long way since the milk bottle-thick NHS specs my poor mother had to wear aged just four. Thankfully, a myriad of styles, colours and patterns means that modern glasses are more of a fashion accessory than a cumbersome necessity.

Technology has seen many advancements in recent years, and no one knows the importance of combining style and substance better than Tom Davies bespoke eyewear. Interestingly, Tom Davies himself has 20:20 vision but wears his own frames on a daily basis after developing a passion for optical design while working at a Hong Kong-based eyewear start-up company. The first Tom Davies boutique launched in London in 2002, and five outlets have since opened across the capital, including a four-storey Vision Clinic and Bespoke Opticians at The Royal Exchange.

Tom Davies’ signature tailor-made service has made the company the Savile Row of eyewear. All frames are made by hand with premium, lightweight materials such as pure titanium, natural horn and 925 silver. Modern silhouettes, a vast choice of colour combinations and stylish new-season additions mean the experience of picking out a pair of Tom Davies glasses is as exciting as being fitted for a new suit – with the same level of attention to detail.


Before my bespoke consultation, I’m booked into the Vision Clinic on the lower ground floor to make sure my eyes are in tip-top condition. More akin to a spa than the often crowded waiting rooms of your average high-street opticians, Tom Davies Vision Clinics are among the most advanced in the world. The comprehensive one-hour appointment provides a full vision MOT, including multiple scans and tests for potential problems and undetected issues. Thankfully, I pass with flying colours but my already diagnosed astigmatism (a common condition affecting the curvature of the eye’s cornea) has deteriorated slightly and my current specs are not providing the correct support for my desk-bound job and are causing eye strain and headaches.


As a new prescription is whizzed over to my inbox, I’m taken upstairs to begin the bespoke fitting process. This starts with trying on multiple different styles, with the design consultant making helpful suggestions and subtly dismissing any frames that definitely belong in the ‘no’ pile. Then it’s upstairs to a more intimate setting to whittle the choices down even further. The process takes much more than face shape into consideration, and the consultant focuses on how the frames sit along the eyebrow line and suit my skintone – it’s amazing how a tiny change in colour can instantly make natural features ‘pop’. Much of the process is done by eye before photographs and precise measurements are taken to ensure a perfect fit.

I opt for a subtle cat’s-eye frame in an olive-green tone with my (accidentally patriotic) initials inscribed inside the temple arm; the finishing touch of every bespoke commission. Over the course of the next month or so, I’ll be sent regular updates of my frames as they’re built from scratch by the London team (Tom Davies moved its factory from China to London three years ago to champion local manufacture) before popping back to The Royal Exchange to pick them up. She may have upgraded from NHS specs many years ago, but I’ve already promised to bring my mum along next time.

An eye examination at Tom Davies Bespoke Opticians costs £150, bespoke eyewear starts from £595. To book a consultation please call The Royal Exchange boutique on +44 (0)20 3711 0012