Optician sees a new future for old frames

Why accept a copy when you can have the real thing? For optician Dan Alcabès, the question never gave him pause.

1 May 2019
By Connexion journalist

A long-term lover of antiques and bric-a-brac, he realised that spectacles from past decades were often more solid and reliable than current ones.

He set up Dingue de Lunettes to make use of them and to bring a bit of vintage chic to his customers.

Since opening his shop in the Canal Saint-Martin quarter of Paris in 2011, Mr Alcabès, 32, has amassed thousands of frames, picked up at antique and car boot sales. In his workshop, they are lovingly restored and polished “until they shine”.

Then, after they have been picked out by a customer, they are fitted with new prescription lenses in a process that takes only 45 minutes.

Mr Alcabès said: “I wear glasses too. I have lots of pairs from every decade, but if I had to choose just one, I’d pick something from the 1980s. I love that retro look.”

The optician’s period pieces are supplemented by boxes of old stock that have been languishing for decades in shop back rooms across France.

Now that people have heard about his work, they call him up to offer him frames they cannot use.

The resulting glasses are often much cheaper than those made with new frames.

There is no reduction in quality: Mr Alcabès uses top-of-the-range Essilor lenses manufactured in France.

It’s a win-win model, bringing new life to discarded objects, and new sight to customers. Dingue de Lunettes has been such a success that Mr Alcabès is planning to open a second branch in Bordeaux.

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