Optical brand Moscot eyes new chapter in L.A.
It has been 104 years since eyewear brand Moscot first opened its doors in New York, and it seems to have taken that long for the Moscot family to find the perfect spot out West to call their own.
Although real-estate opportunities beckoned the popular optical label to far-flung cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, London and Paris, its newest shop — a prime 1,800-square-foot corner storefront on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles — can be viewed as a homecoming, in a way.
“We’ve always had our sights on the West Coast because it relates back to our roots in the Lower East Side of Manhattan,” said Harvey Moscot, the company’s chief executive and a fourth-generation family member. He sees parallels between the brand’s original shop location — a home to artists and a certain downtown bohemian scene — and West Hollywood’s creative energy.
The new shop allows the brand to highlight its long relationship with the entertainment industry. The Moscot label has become a favorite of the Hollywood set — whether its frames are worn onscreen for film roles or off-screen by the actors who portray those fictional characters.
Harvey Moscot said he remembers being fresh from optometry school in the mid-1980s and helping the head costumer for “Saturday Night Live.” He dyed six pairs of glasses frames the perfect shade of blue before rushing them to set on a 90-minute timeline.
The Melrose Avenue store, which officially opens Thursday, references this connection to the film industry and the brand’s impressive history. “Everything we do is from the heart and in service of telling the story of our 100-year-old business from New York,” said Zack Moscot, the brand’s chief design officer (and fifth-generation family member).
For example, Moscot is utilizing design flourishes that recall the flagship store in New York with the same drawers and counters, tin ceilings, chandelier and shelves decorated with the same quirky tchotchkes — all of which help continue the brand’s aesthetic.
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These connections will materialize more explicitly with an in-shop installation called Moscot Moments, an immersive visual timeline and museum-style gallery meant to shine a light on high points from the brand’s past.
On display, there are images of vintage business cards from the brand’s archives, while niches are stocked with memorabilia such as the original trays once used to dispense eyewear by Sol Moscot (second generation).
In the back of the store, there’s space for clients who prefer a discreet shopping experience, accessible by private entrance and fully stocked for anyone in need of a mid-purchase tipple.
To celebrate the opening, Moscot is releasing a limited-edition version of the popular Lemtosh silhouette, rendered in a golden straw colorway and engraved with “L.A.” on the left arm.
Looked at cynically, this could all be seen as a lot of back-patting and self-congratulation over a store opening. However, as the eyewear market becomes dominated by conglomerates or luxury brands that merely franchise their optical business to said conglomerates, Moscot is a rare and refreshing thing: a family-owned and -run affair. It’s also an immigrant story. (Family patriarch Hyman Moscot came from Eastern Europe by way of Ellis Island in 1899, according to the brand’s website.)
“We are a growing fashion brand and we pride ourselves on our styles and the quality of our products, but at the end of the day, we are a multigenerational family business,” Zach Moscot said. “That’s our story. We’re proud of it. We put it on the windows.”
Few brands can tout more than 100 years in business, weathering the ebbs and flows of the famously fickle fashion business. To grow a business with a global imprint while maintaining its familial ties is certainly something to celebrate.
“We make it very clear we’re a family business because it’s all part of the service, the memory and the experience,” Zach Moscot said. “We’re carrying on a family tradition in the shop environment, and that’s as important as the product and brand itself.”