I've Got A Case of Cross Eyes
I think CrossEyes Newcastle has to take the award for 'best timed email of the year.' Just a few weeks earlier I had booked in for a free eye test and established that a new pair of glasses was on the cards after many months of staring at a computer screen for 6-10 hours a day (hashtag start up life). I took one look at how much a new pair of (decent) glasses would cost, I decided I couldn't take the hit that month - so when CrossEyes invited me to come and check out their newly opened shop in central Newcastle and pick out a pair of glasses for myself, I jumped at the opportunity.
CrossEyes is a franchise of an originally Danish optical brand (that describes itself as 'full of lifeblood'), but CrossEyes Newcastle has the intimacy and quirky feel of an independent opticians. The visual merchandising is unlike any high street alternative, letting the frames speak for themselves and offering up a range of styles wide enough to give people of any taste a healthy number of options. The staff in the shop had also chosen their pick of the new collection - of which all frames are limited edition and come at the same, fixed price. Being a bit of a diva, the thought that my glasses were more or less unique in Newcastle made me quite happy and smug.
At CrossEyes, they won't try to up-sell you all those fancy options after you've got your eyes tested (think 'ultra glare proof night vision unicorn snot coated lenses - just £80 extra!') as all the prices are clearly displayed and transparency is a really big part of their brand. And when I say clearly, I mean clearly - they're literally written in huge writing on the walls!
The branding is all ready sleek, minimal and modern with a hint of humour which is great because it means you can really focus on the glasses themselves; rather than on getting into the shop, making a decision and getting out. Specsavers and Vision Express are always so crowded and busy due to their shopping centre and high street locations that they make getting eyewear a total chore.
Tim, the optician and shop owner, hasn't failed to add his own touches to the space. I personally love this flamingo leg table, but he did look rather sheepish and say 'that's a bit of a marmite table' when I set my eyes on it!
I loved these elegant pale pink frames but they didn't suit my face - my strong jawline and dark eyebrows needed a frame with deeper tones, otherwise my eyes just looked lost and small.
I think you'll agree with me that the visual merchandising was on a par with any quirky independent boutique. Industrial chic meets minimal danish design but with a cosy overall feel.
A range of lenses are available for the many frames AND what's also pretty cool is that any frames can also be made into prescription (or regular) sunglasses. So yes, I will be back for summer because I've started driving lessons and if I wasn't already enough of a hazard on the road I have such a hard time reading street signs and road markings.
The fact that the two shop assistants are A) Lovely and B) as gorgeous and stylish as professional models goes a long way for selling the glasses. Seriously, if I could pull off the frames and arty outfits of these ladies I would be a happy woman.
Tim, optician and owner, relaxes on the sofa after what was (presumably) a hard day's work. Tim was accommodating, friendly and offered input on frame styles without ever being pushy (hard sales techniques are my absolute least favourite thing). He put my immediately at ease and to be honest, what is normally an 'errand' to run (eye test, finding frames, etc.) flew by.
These are the frames that I settled on in the end. I liked the iridescence in the red tortoiseshell as I felt it brought out my brown eyes and reddish hair. I wear a lot of warmer tones and black in the winter months so these frames will adapt to those outfits.
These frames were funky but my face is quite angular and square and it looked slightly off balance with the very rounded frames. I also felt that the purple colour was a bit too restrictive as I don't have many clothes of that tone in my closet.
OKAY, HUSH, I know my posing skills are fairly lacklustre. I am too used to being on the other side of the camera. But do you see what I mean when I say that the glasses frames really pick up on the reddish brown tones in my outfit?
I can't help being a big fan of large, dark framed glasses with a geeky edge. Because I have a larger nose and smaller eyes, they balance out my face by pulling the eyes down towards the apples of my cheeks. I didn't want to go for classic black frames though as I already have an OSIRIS pair in black and needed to mix it up!
I am so happy with my final decision - I can't wait to receive these! I'll be picking them up in a week or so. If you wear glasses and your time to get an eye test is coming up, or if you just fancy changing those frames to something a bit more INTERESTING than your standard (very limited) high street opticians then head to CrossEyes.
The friendly service, huge variety of frame styles and cosy atmosphere will make you wish you had made the switch from the overcrowded, and often more expensive high street opticians much, much sooner.
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As always, thanks for reading and make sure you leave any comments you have below!