In Conversation: FINLAY London



Founded on a firm belief that eyewear is personal, our long-standing brand FINLAY London have developed an ever evolving range of sunglasses to cater to individuality. Not understanding why the sunglasses industry felt so limited to only a handful of options the brand was pulled together by four friends determined to bring some sense of personal style to eyewear, yet still producing designs that remained timeless. The results are sunglasses that are considered, comfortable and understated. Clever designs that are individual but won’t date. Their range feels distinctly British, with a heritage sensibility despite the brand’s youth. You could put that down to their unwavering quality. Each frame is realised thanks to the meticulous 32 stage craftsmanship that the brand proudly upholds, with hand carved acetate frames using world-renowned Italian Mazzucchelli acetate and Carl Zeiss lenses with full UVA/B protection. These guys mean it when they say they are high quality.

With each design named after a street in London, it made sense when they recently opened their own bricks and mortar store on the corner of Broadwick St and Marshall St in Soho. Freshening up the idea of an eyewear shop, their gallery like approach to retail makes for a curated experience of their designs alongside other independent brands. This understanding of how people interact with each frame can only be a good thing, and after being worn by a few familiar faces – we’ll leave the google searching up to you – they seem set to keep expanding their reach. It’s all looking (excuse the pun) pretty good from where we are standing.


‘Before FINLAY came the striking realisation that everyone was wearing the same sunglasses. It was 2011 and I’d been duped into a double date holiday in Portugal without realising it. We noticed there was one dominant brand of sunglasses being worn round the pool and two major shapes were universally being worn – wayfarers and aviators. Over dinner we discussed that we express our personalities and individuality through the wide range of clothing and accessories that we wear – so why are we so unadventurous when it comes to eyewear? And so FINLAY London was born – with the vision of designing eyewear that would be notable, high quality, affordable and elegant. We started by designing frames made from wood – the ultimate expression of a unique pair of sunglasses. Over the next year and many prototypes later, we developed our first collection and launched during the London Olympics in 2012.

We make all of our frames by hand in small workshops in the Italian Alps. This is a region renowned for the expertise necessary to create the finest frames. The acetate we use is from Mazzucchelli (the Rolls Royce of acetates) and we fit Carl Zeiss lenses for excellent clarity. The provenance of our frames is of great importance as there are a lot of questions in the eyewear industry over where some brands are really made. We wanted to create eyewear of the highest quality and offer it to our customers at a sensible, accessible luxury price-point. 

We champion individuality. We are all different and so why wear the same? It excites us when someone pushes the boundaries of what they’ve been used to when it comes to eyewear. Eyewear trends have traditionally moved quite slowly but we believe that is speeding up. Many people used to only own one or two pairs of sunglasses and that’s now changing significantly so it’s easier to take a risk on a third or fourth option if you already have a classic go-to pair. Our current collection takes an architectural twist on some of our classic best-sellers. The Percy and Bowery have been our most popular shapes for a couple of seasons so we brought through the Archer and the Marshall, based on the original silhouettes, but with a thicker frame and a flat top. And as we move forwards expect us to be even more adventurous with designs and pantones. Having the physical store now means we receive rich insights into how our customers shop for eyewear and what they are drawn towards. We’re looking at new sites and considering more pop-ups. We might need a holiday too…’ 


Tell us about your neighborhood.

We’re based in the heart of Soho. Our offices are 30 seconds walk away from the store. It’s such a vibrant and creative area. Excellent food, hidden gems, rich history, dynamic locals.

Do you have any daily rituals?

I’m not sure if you could call constantly monitoring the Google Analytics a ritual – perhaps a bad habit

Who are your heroes?

One of my heroes is Scott Harrison – the founder of Charity: Water. From being one of the most successful nightlife promoters in New York, Scott has used to his life to build a transparent model of charity that brings safe, clean drinking water to people in developing countries. To date his organization has funded almost 30,000 clean water projects and brought water and life to over 8 million people.

What do you believe in? 

We believe in hope. It is such a powerful and essential ingredient for life. The four founders of FINLAY met at a church in London and ultimately we are united by the belief that God exists and cares deeply for the world.

What has been your best travel experience to date?

I spent 6 months in East Africa a few years ago. Grade 5 White Water Rafting on the River Nile in Uganda was exhilarating and unforgettable.

And if you had to pick one other city to live in, where would it be? 

Cape Town would be an incredible place to go and live for a few years. The climate, the scenery, the food (and wine), the sunsets and the people all set it apart for me.

If you could lend one book you have read to us, what would it be?

I’m currently reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. The title probably tells you all you need to know. A fascinating recalibration for me of how I perceive the challenges that face the developing world. You can borrow it when I’m finished!

Tell us the exhibition or show you’re most looking forward to this year.

Does the opening day of the Premier League season tomorrow count? 

Words by Rebecca Field. Shop the collection from FINLAY London online  and in store.