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Our History

In 2014 I owned what I thought was the perfect pair of glasses: the fit was ideal, they looked good, and were a unique, discontinued style. If I might be so bold, they became a part of my personal brand. After about a year though, these perfect glasses started to change in a strange and terrible way. The tortoise shell acetate oxidized, creating a cloudy white layer on the surface that raised questions that I knew people were just too polite or embarrassed to ask. I tried increasingly drastic techniques to rescue them: olive oil, plastic polish, sandpaper, razors to shave off the top layer. Nothing worked.

While our grandparents suffered Polio, tripe, segregation and the draft, they did not suffer luxury goods with half-lives of 2-3 years. I’ve got my grandpa Paddy’s watch, his scotch tumblers, his admittedly ‘problematic’ tiger rug. That stuff lasted forever because it was made to. Stuff, and people, just seemed tougher back then: Paddy was somehow a soldier, an immigrant, an ophthalmologist, a politician, businessman, community leader, family man, and socialite. All that while drinking what would have had me sleeping under park benches.

I want to make glasses he would be proud of, and that can be passed on to future generations (perhaps ones that might look back in awe at how tough we were for drinking coffee in the morning?).

I picked a material that was popular in his era—buffalo horn—and chose styles that honor that time, while remaining contemporary. While practically no one makes glasses out of buffalo horn anymore (because acetate is so much cheaper) it’s still used in ultra high end knife making, bespoke clothing details, and boutique instruments. The material is hard-wearing, lightweight, tactile, and filled with character. No two pairs of Van Vliets will be exactly alike. 

In essence, Van Vliet glasses are timeless, stylish, high-quality objects that are built to last. As a little nod to my grandparents’ generation, I named the brand after my grandma and her slightly more stylishand equally hard drinkingDutch side of the family, the Van Vliets.

– Darragh, Van Vliet Founder