Were you ever picked on as a child for having to wear eyeglasses? Fear not, for there is room for them in the world of fashion like you would never believe.
Eyeglasses, in their most primitive form, were brought into use nearly eight centuries ago and, as time has passed, have been used for a variety of purposes; corrective and protective purposes dominating.
With advances in technology ever progressing, eyeglass lenses have managed to alleviate stress placed on the eyes by myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, and--when used in sunglasses--even protect the eyes from bright light and promote better vision during the day.
While eyeglasses can hardly be considered perfect (their extended use does, after all, prevent the eyes from healing on their own and, thus, creates a dependency), it is safe to assume that--with the power of eyeglass lenses increasing at, what seems like, a never-ending rate--eyeglasses, and their effectiveness, will only continue to improve.
With eyeglasses already used for corrective and protective purposes, what--if they are to improve--will be the next great service that they provide? In a world heavily influenced, in part, by fashion, eyeglasses have already begun to serve as more than a practical utility; they are fashionable.
The use of non-prescription or “fake” eyeglasses as a fashion accessory is a strange, yet existing, phenomenon. Once upon a time, having to wear eyeglasses--along with braces--afforded you the luxury of sitting at a table by yourself in secondary school during lunch; wear eyeglasses today, however, and you achieve the “geek chic” look (braces have not quite made it there yet). For those eyeglass-wearers reading; think it is too good to be true? Think again.
Founder and Chief Editor, W. David Marx, of Néojaponisme--a Tokyo-based blog dedicated to eradicating the false beliefs of Japanese culture--recently posted an article entitled, “On Fake Glasses in Japan,” discussing the strange fashion trend of wearing non-prescription eyeglasses. But wait, there’s more. The fake eyeglasses that have found their way into the everyday fashion of many Japanese girls are not only non-prescription, but they even lack lenses! And no, these lensless eyeglasses are not to be confused with Pinhole glasses; the eyeglasses in question have no medicinal value, whatsoever.
“The lens-less frames are apparently an Asia-wide trend,” said Marx, but, at the end of the day, are nothing more than mere costume. “Fashion in Japan is explicitly costume,” Marx explained, and “extreme costume, rather than natural aspect of their daily lives, marks the affiliation.”
It is for that reason Marx believes that--while they are suitable for Asian culture--the lensless eyeglasses simply would not work in the Western world. According to Marx, fashion in Western culture is about effortlessly being fashionable, because trying to be fashionable is not “cool.”
If an American hipster were to wear a pair of non-prescription eyeglasses, Marx said that he or she could defend the use in a number of ways, from medicinal purpose to receiving the eyeglasses as a hand-me-down, thus, maintaining a nonchalant attitude towards fashion. If that same American hipster, however, wore lensless glasses, Marx stated that “the wearer absolutely, positively woke up that morning and said, ‘today I will wear a pair of giant glasses with no lenses to be fashionable because I am trying to be fashionable,’” and it will be evident to everyone who notices.
But would someone who defines him or herself as an “American hipster” (or even someone who does not) agree with Marx’s “matter-of-fact” tone? It does not seem that way.
Shelby Quinters, a Graytown, TX resident and undergraduate student at Baylor University, started wearing non-prescription glasses well before they became a fashion trend and intends to continue doing so should they lose their mainstream appeal.
“I basically do my own thing when it comes to fashion, although I am one to follow trends from time to time,” said Quinters. “I have been wearing the glasses prior to the mainstream influence, so I probably won’t stop wearing them.”
Quinters, who describes herself as shy, likes to wear the glasses because they serve as a barrier of sorts.
“I don’t like people to be able to look me in the eye; I’m really shy, so they kind of make me feel more confident.”
When asked if she would ever consider jumping on the bandwagon trend in Asia and donning a pair lensless eyeglasses, she was not keen on the idea.
“No, I don’t like lensless glasses. That would take away from what I like about the glasses.”
Quinters is not alone in her habit of wearing non-prescription glasses; a fellow college mate of hers also wears them.
Freddy Rosas, a San Antonio, TX resident and fellow Baylor University undergraduate student, admits to wearing non-prescription glasses for fashion purposes.
"I punch out the lenses in my 3D glasses all of the time," said Rosas who, might unknowingly, be following a popular Asian trend. What would W.David Marx have to say to Rosas if he were aware of this, I wonder.
Eyeglasses and sunglasses alike have--without a doubt--become fashion accessories. Whether for the purpose of correcting vision, overcoming shyness or to simply be part of the latest fad, they play a heavy role in how people go about coordinating fashion in their daily lives. Whether or not lensless eyeglasses will ever rise to the popularity that they already have in Asia in the Western world is unknown, but one thing is certain: they, along with non-prescription eyeglasses, do not serve as the technological advances that are going to make your vision any better.