When Jack Rohrbach, Vice President of Shuron Ltd. eyeglass company, first invented the browline in 1947 he could have never imagined that his creation would change the face of modern optics forever. Even if you can’t always place the name, you definitely know what browline frames look like and have likely sported a pair at some point in your life.
Browline frames all have upper parts of the frame that are thicker than the bottom, which simulates the look of eyebrows. The first browlines from the early 1950s were made out of interchangeable bridges, eyewires, and "brows," allowing wearers to completely customize the size, fit, and color of their glasses. This might seem commonplace now, but it’s important to remember that just a few years prior WWII had made it so that nearly every consumer item was “standard issue.” What you saw was what you got. The browline was a welcome departure from the norm. More on this later.
Much like second-hand military gear, browline frames occupy a stylistic space that has appealed to both the establishment and the counterculture for over 60 years. Depending on which decade you are referencing, they can symbolize either steady leadership — as was the case in the 1950s when they accounting for over 50% of the entire global glasses market — or the arty, retro-obsessed bohemianism that started in the 1980s with the Smiths and Talking Heads and still thrives today.
A shortlist of famous public figures who have sported these now-iconic frames includes everyone from Lyndon B. Johnson, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders, and football hero Vince Lombardi to Madonna, Bruce Willis, and Jon Hamm aka Don Draper.
It’s no coincidence that razor sharp dressers incorporated a browline frame into their look. For one, the thicker construction of the top of the frames bring a subtle attention to the wearer’s browline, lending an air of sophistication and intellectual coolness. Wear a pair of these and people will know you mean business.
Of course, no mention of the browline frame would be complete without a shoutout to pre-Die Hard era Bruce Willis, who single handedly made these frames a thing in the 1980s by having his beloved character, the wisecracking private detective David Addison Jr., regularly sport a pair on the hit TV show Moonlighting.
Drawing from the browline’s storied history, our Gibson frame features a larger fit with adjustable nose pads and bold acetate temples. No matter which side of the aisle you want to occupy, this frame is built to last.