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Glasses for the Dalai Lama! - TIPTON interview

Nowadays you can wear shoes that reflect your personality, you can buy a cardigan that suits your hair color or even have a bag made of purely recycled materials or wear accessories that astound those around you. Or…you might want to simply accept the Hungarian saying “glasses dress”, and buy a pair of Hungarian TIPTON glasses. Zachary Tipton in his teens was disappointed about the available glasses, so he went about creating his own brand, whose uniqueness reached Elton John himself, too.

WeLoveBp: What’s your message with your slogan, that says TIPTON is "Extraordinary Eyewear for Extraordinary People"?
Zachary Tipton: Actually we’ve always made individually tailored frames. Back in the days if somebody came to us, we took a photo of their faces, designed the lenses and the temples and fit the glasses on their faces. I learnt a lot about forms, sizes and ratios in these days. Most people who wore our glasses have been extraordinary because they couldn’t find in the shop what they were looking for. For example, there was a mountaineer for whom we made glasses in which he could always look upwards. We set the frame in the right angle so that he could climb mountains without having to strain his neck. We’ve used the same method for billiards player, too, because they also have to peek through the upper part of the lenses. These extraordinary orders prompted the motto, since each of our customers is unique with their uniquely designed glasses.WeLoveBp: What made you start making glasses?
ZT: I started experimenting in ’98 because I could never find glasses I liked anywhere.

In the beginning it was just a hobby, making frames for my friends, but later the idea went on to become more. At first I worked with plastic but as I couldn’t find one I was satisfied with I needed a new material. And so I began sticking together many-many records from my father’s collection. Thus started the the idea to use vinyl and it has been developing since.

WLB: What has been your most interesting order, posing the most challenges? ZT: Challenges are ever present. If there aren’t any, we will surely find some for ourselves. The current challenge is to raise the design quality. I think people feel, even if they can’t describe it, what quality is. People have an inner sensor that decides what is right and wrong. A big challenge for us currently is to make lines meet on glasses, and make nice arcs, in an effort to hide that glasses are made up of more pieces. We model a lot on the computer to get rid of mistakes and improve design. There’s an awful lot of work in it, a great deal of things depend on the details but it seems people appreciate our hard work.WLB: If you could choose which famous person to make glasses for, who would it be?

ZT: Dalai Lama, of course. He has pretty unique glasses what with the mixing of metal and plastic. I’m curious as to how TIPTON glasses would suit the simple lifestyle of the Lama. If I could choose someone who had died, it would be Benjamin Franklin. He was the first to put together two lenses inventing the bifocal glasses, making it viable for the first time in history to write, read and work with the same glasses. Among famous women I’d happily make glasses for Chanel or the pilot Amelia Earhart, some special glasses for flying, that is.

By the way, we’re planning to design classic glasses for motorcycle riders, the frames of which would be made of leather, and they had to be tied behind the head. Of course, they would be meant for a narrow audience but I would enjoy it a lot.

WLB: Which European country are you most successful in? ZT: We have a lot of customers from France. It’s very lucky in France that health care provides a lot of money for glasses, so the market is very suitable. There are a lot more shops where people can buy our glasses and provided they can afford it, they are much open to new design and ideas.WLB: Do you take orders for individual design?ZT: Absolutely! But manufacturing it is a different topic. The most ecomomic solution is to take an existing frame and modify it. You can come in with a prescription to have dioptric glasses made but people don’t usually ask for completely unique frames, they most likely choose one from the those on display. You come in, pick a frame, and if needed, we will change the color or shape of either the frame or the lenses, or fit it on your face.WLB: The Cinematique collection is special because you put film from a reel in the temples. What does it depend on which movie one sees in the temples ZT: This collection is normally more colorful than the others. We choose the films based on what colors suit the frame in question. This is the most relevant. For example, a black frame of glasses calls for black-and-white frames of film but for a brownish, amberish frame we choose color films. It’s not easy to find the best moments in a movie as most of our customers like action-packed movies with lots of action in one frame of film. In dramas, however, there’s plenty of close-ups of the characters.

WLB: Are there such glasses with pornographic film inside? Why and how did they come about?

ZT: Once we made a pair of glasses with a deodorant commercial inside. Now, there was a nude woman in it, and people got to like it in no time. We realized that porn movies of the ‘50s and ‘60s are very popular this way, too.WLB: What will the new collection be like?

ZT: We’re designing glasses that combine plastic and metal. They will have comfortable silicone nose pads and unique suspension, meaning that they will hold the temples to the head better and will be more comfortable than the previous ones, too. We still have to adjust the shapes and colors but the concepts are laid down. We’re working on connecting the temples with the rims in a better way, and make the parts of the same color.

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