Made of sturdy and lightweight cellulose acetate, blending a range of brown hues in an aleatory fashion – the distinctive pattern with a mottled history is unmatched and quite literally inimitable. Every sheet of tortoiseshell acetate is made from diced-up sheets of acetate in a variety of colours, then blended and melted together for beautifully original results.
Firstly, “tortoiseshell” is a bit of a misnomer, as the origins of the pattern lay in the now illegal use of hawksbill turtles’ shells. Turtle shells made their appearance on the eyewear scene from the very first and were found on excavated eyeglasses belonging to the 13th century.
In the spotlight
Despite having been around for a decent while, tortoiseshell frames had their first real moment in the spotlight in the 1920s, when glasses started being perceived as fashionable instead of merely practical. Over the following decades, British eyewear designer Philip Oliver Goldsmith revolutionized the eyewear industry, creating the first plastic frames and propelling the popularity of the tortoiseshell pattern to new heights.
All shapes and colours
1980s fashions prompted the arrival of new tortoiseshell textures, hues, and fabrication methods, and out of the lot, three main types were established: Havana, Tokyo, and Coloured.
Havana (or Classic) Tortoise blends orange tones with black and inspired us to create a few of our own versions like the Monarch, Matte Tortoise and Matte Tort colourways. Tokyo Tortoise combines tints of yellow, black, and brown, not unlike the popular Snake Skin and Leopard. Coloured Tortoise, as you probably have guessed, borrows from the original pattern while integrating brighter, less traditional colours – like our eye-catching Pastel Tort or the elegant Blue Tort.
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