When it came to sourcing the materials for our Made in England sunglasses, we went to the best of the best. World renowned manufacturers of acetates, Mazzucchelli are masters of their craft; established since 1849 and still operated by the same family that founded the company 6 generations ago.
Mazzucchelli specialise in high grade cellulose acetate, a natural product made from plant based materials and widely considered to be the finest material to use when it comes to spectacles and sunglasses. Think of it as the eyewear equivalent of shell cordovan or Fox Brothers flannel.
Cellulose acetate is a handmade product in itself, being hand dyed, pressed and then set through a labour and time intensive process. For a handmade collection of sunglasses, it felt only right to use handmade materials, created with the same amount of care and attention as the handmade pair of sunglasses.
After a suitable piece of acetate has been selected, our frame makers begin by cutting out a rough shape using a bandsaw. We use the most substantial grade of acetate available, which gives us the most freedom when it comes to creating those smoothed and rounded edges which make the Made in England collection so unique.
After an initial shape is formed, the flat frames are heated and pressed in a mould to shape the bridge. For styles like Stamp, the acetate is shaped by hand to give a curved aspect before being cooled and set. The hand file is then brought out and the bespoke 72 hour process of shaping, carving, and sanding is ready to begin.
While it’s malleable through heating, cellulose acetate is a notoriously tough material, which is excellent for ensuring your Kirk originals sunglasses stand the test of time, but also means that each pair requires many long hours of work before the shape begins to emerge. The pair below will eventually be a pair of Kirk Originals Burton Sunglasses in tortoiseshell.
In order to achieve the high shine finish, our frame makers spend hours polishing and buffing the frames. The process begins with an initial, coarse grade to remove any marks and finalise the shape. Once this process is completed and the frames have a slight gloss finish, it’s time to mount the temples, or arms.
While our aesthetic is based on mid century design, we wanted to set the Made in England collection apart by giving it a modern look and feel. Using an 8mm acetate – the most substantial – allows us to mount the temples without showing any visible pins on the front of the frames, resulting in a clean and uncluttered look.
Kirk Originals sunglasses are not only shaped and crafted by hand, but are also assembled by hand. The same frame maker makes the sunglasses from start to finish. This allows them to control every step of the process – the next being to finish mounting the temples to give a snug and precise fit. Once the temples are mounted perfectly, it’s on to the buffing machine once more, this time to get the all important high lustre finish.
The picture above shows a pair of Kirk Originals Stamp frames in black undergoing rigorous polishing, which will continue until the black acetate comes up to an almost mirror shine. This all over finish is only achievable by hand polishing, and the frames will not be finished until the craftsman is satisfied with their quality.
The last step of the process, before the lenses are mounted, is to stamp the frames with the prestigious ‘Made in England’ mark. Your Kirk Originals sunglasses will bear a mark of quality known the world over.