Art & Photography / In Pictures

MOSCOT: Eyewear Specialists

AnOther consider New York's eyewear institution, MOSCOT

Hyman Moscot on Rivington Street, 1934
Hyman Moscot on Rivington Street, 1934 Photography courtesy of Moscot

Nestled in New York's Lower East Side, on the corner of Orchard and Delancey Street, stands MOSCOT, a family-run eyewear specialist and local institution. The business started with humble beginnings in 1899, when Hyman Moscot emigrated to America from Eastern Europe. He arrived via Ellis Island and, having worked previously as an optician, began selling spectacles from his pushcart. That pushcart would eventually grow to become MOSCOT; five generations of men priding themselves on optics and style, counting Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Julianne Moore amongst their customers.

MOSCOT now has two stores in New York and one in South Korea, as well as their online shop and stockists including Dover Street Market. With contemporary styles pulling on their archival past, there is an endearing sense of nostalgia within the company, and a huge essence of family heritage. Their story is also the story of New York and the changing face of the Lower East Side, from Jewish immigration and pushcarts of the late nineteenth century, to the bohemian gentrification of today, and the rock, soul, disco and latino movements that came in between. Here, AnOther speaks to MOSCOT President, Harvey Moscot.

When did the first retail shop open?
The first MOSCOT Shop opened in 1915 on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in New York City.

"Peter Fonda’s glasses from the 1968 movie Easy Rider are one of my all time favourites" — Harvey Moscot

What is your favourite decade for sunglasses?
I am particularly fond of the 1950s, a decade when eyewear really started to evolve into a fashion accessory. Acetate frames became much more sophisticated in terms of colour, patterns, and ornamentation. Cat eyes were everywhere!

What are some of your favourite sunglasses images from the past?
Peter Fonda from the 1968 movie Easy Rider is one of my all time favourites, as well as the photo of Helena Bonham Carter wearing our Brown/Crystal LEMTOSH for a magazine interview.

You have seen the Lower East Side change dramatically over the years. Do you have a favourite memory?
The melting pot of artists, musicians, poets, writers, and the local Hispanic residents that arrived in the early 1960s created a unique neighborhood complexion: a mixture of gritty, carefree, and bohemian style. The first tattoo artists set up shops on the Lower East Side, and made great contributions to the neighborhood's constant creative expression. An 'anything goes' kind of individualism still exists here today.

Text by Mhairi Graham