By The Horns: Tom Davies Bespoke

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The creator of bespoke spectacles to the stars and his particular penchant for horn

Even delving way back into pre-history, we’ve been using horn for millennia. Unless something even more drastic than the colonisation of America happens to buffalo around the world, we’ll continue using it for millennia more. Between its unique grain, beautiful hues and innate lustre, it would be a travesty if we didn’t.

While it has its place in furniture, objet d’art and any number of decorative uses, there’s nothing quite like a pair of horn glasses frames. The curves and shape show off the horn to full effect which, if you’ve a particularly good example, is nothing short of stunning. You can be sure Tom Davies only uses the best.

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Arguably the UK’s premier maker of bespoke frames, Tom Davies is the go-to craftsmen for the most discerning of bespectacled celebrities. His flagship store just off of Sloane Square is not only a haven to the most stylish of eyewear, but houses its own hospital-grade optical lab. Well, if you’re going to get a pair of glasses, you’ll need to make sure they fit your prescription.

While he does have a good range of ready-to-wear designs, Tom’s true calling is bespoke. He's been doing this for long enough that he can judge the perfect size for you in no time at all. More than that, he’ll let you know the type of glasses that will suit your face shape the best and, while not binding, you’d do well to follow his advice. Of course, if you’re putting that much effort into the perfect pair of glasses, you’ll want a material to match.

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Lighter than acetate, smooth against the skin and allergen free, horn makes some of the most comfortable frames. For most of the horn he uses Tom Davies opts for Indian water buffalo, from which you can source an impressive range of colours, everything indeed except for white. For that, it’s the African Buffalo – ethically sourced, of course.

You can have the finest, most intricately grained mahogany in the world, but if you don’t use it well it may as well be painted plasterboard. The same goes with horn; it’s a material worthy of respect, each piece unique. It also happens to be one of the most difficult, liable to fracture with wrong handling. Needless to say, Tom Davies takes his time with it.

Sheets of horn are planed down to just 0.8mm thick before being painstakingly placed, layer upon layer, to build up a block which is then laminated for additional strength. The result is a beautiful depth veined with different colours and hues of natural horn.

For the occasional frame however, horn simply isn’t enough by itself. For a more contemporary, utterly unique look, Tom can layer in carbon fibre or laminated silk into the mix. Adding its own flourish of colour and texture, you can be pretty sure you won’t find anything else similar – and nothing exactly the same.

The material however is just the beginning. Even after the horn has been rendered usable, it takes between 16 and 22 hours to cut out and shape your measured frames, time spent by a master artisan with a minimum of ten years’ experience. Every frame that leaves Tom Davies’ workshop is a masterpiece.

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Horn takes care; it’s notorious for warping and fading in the sun or damp, not to mention far less durable than acetate. But while acetate by its very nature can be mass-produced, not so for horn. If you’re looking for an individual frames, as beautiful yet inimitable as a precious gemstone, horn is a stunning material and, under the guidance of Tom Davies’ team of craftsmen, makes the perfect pair of glasses.

To make an enquiry about Tom Davies bespoke, CLICK HERE.

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