Stylish opticians Cubitts open new shop in North Laine

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Glasses wearers of Brighton celebrate! Stylish spectacle-makers Cubitts have opened their first store outside London on North Laine’s Sydney Street.

Founded in 2013, Cubitts built up a large online presence to compliment its London shops, offering a wide range of frames at affordable prices and free home try-ons.

We caught up with Cubitts to discuss the new shop, why they love Brighton, and the company’s commitment to sustainability.

The new store looks great! How come you chose Brighton as your first location outside London?

Thank you! We knew we already had the start of a loyal customer base in Brighton, and we also knew it was a city full of the kind of people we want to be our customers: artists, writers, musicians, people who love independent design, and who are interested in good craftsmanship and sustainable practices.

Whenever we open a new store, be it in London or now in Brighton, we try to learn about the area before we move in and really try to embrace the community and the history, and what we found was a natural link to Brighton through our namesake, Thomas Cubitt.

Who was Thomas Cubitt and what’s his link to Brighton?

Thomas Cubitt was one of three brothers in the Victorian era who were all master builders and engineers, and who we take our brand name from. Thomas was renowned for building places like Bloomsbury and Belgravia and working on Buckingham Palace, but he was also employed to build the original Kemp Town estate in Brighton. Kemp, who financed the estate, fled the scene before it was finished to escape his debtors, but Cubitt stayed and finished the job. He ended up living in one of Kemp Town’s terraces for a decade after it was completed, and today you can find a blue plaque in his honour outside the house that he lived in.

Our brand was born in King’s Cross, which is full of buildings designed by Lewis Cubitt, so it feels like a natural first step to open up in a city that is home to buildings designed by another of our namesake brothers.

What sets Cubitts apart from other opticians and glasses makers?

We wanted to build a brand that moved away from the dentist-like experience of going to the opticians. All our stores are beautifully designed, with interiors that are inspired by the history of the area they’re in. For example, in Brighton, the store takes its design cues from seaside Modernism, with subtle nods to things like fish and chip shop signs and the city’s architecture.

All of our frames are handmade and we offer a wide range of sizes to cater to as many heads as possible. Our pricing is simple and transparent, and we never up-sell or give our opticians targets to hit. We also offer bespoke and made-to-measure services, so if you struggle to find something that fits you on the high street or you want something unique that no one else is wearing, we can do that for you. Every bespoke frame is handmade in our King’s Cross workshop, crafted to your exact requirements and measurements, in a choice of over 300 Italian acetate colours and patterns.

Cubitts seems to be an environmentally conscious company, what measures do you take to reduce your impact on the planet?

We try to be, and although we’re by no means perfect we are always looking for ways to improve.

At the moment, the main measures we take include using quality materials and craftsmanship to make frames that last, as well as encouraging repairs and frame refurbishments to encourage our customers to extend the lifespan of their products. Once a customer really is finished with their frames, we take them back, refurbish them, and send them off to eye health charities we work with in Kenya and Ethiopia to be donated to those in need.
We also try to reduce our impact on the planet by researching material alternatives, not just for our frames but also for our lenses (an element which is often overlooked in our industry), our accessories, and our processes. This has included creating frames from waste materials like potato skins and sheep’s wool, replacing our microfibre cleaning cloths with a material made from recycled plastic bottles, and switching from plastic packaging to paper. We’ve even built the window sills in our Brighton store out of a material made of recycled chopping boards and plastic packaging.

Our main aim is to change the industry for the better, developing better practices that customers should expect from all eyewear brands. As well as encouraging frame repairs and services, we’re now tackling stock obsolescence through our world-leading technology that we’re developing in house. It will enable us to greatly reduce the cost of the bespoke spectacle making process, making made-to-order frames accessible to a much larger number of customers globally, meaning less waste and less stock sitting around unsold.
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