With a wave of revival having washed over the world of fashion in the recent past, vintage fashion’s ability to tell stories through weaves and to let embellishments help revisit a time forgotten is being recognised, appreciated and how. These stylistic markers that are representative of a certain era in all their timeless goodness do ten to take a toll on one’s budget. We at Homegrown decided to jump to the vintage-fashion-lover-on-a-budget’s rescue and scoured one of South Bombay’s favourite neighbourhoods — Colaba — to try and chance upon some vintage treasures.
Colaba has been a college student’s haven for time immemorial. With vendor after vendor dealing in chunky junk jewellery for your bohemian alter ego and extremely affordable but super chic leather sandals to piles and piles of export rejects from the most coveted of brands — Colaba is a thrifty shopper’s paradise. However, what we did realise (after spending a considerable amount of time walking up and down Colaba causeway numerous times) is that some relatively unexplored parts of this bustling neighbourhood are the tiny stores that deal in the trendiest of vintage glasses and frames that you could ever lay your hands on, especially at such pocket friendly prices. Here is a list we curated for all those dying to spruce up their looks with some vintage frames without burning holes in their pockets.
I. EMCO Opticians
Nudging past hordes of tourists and dodging vendors with unparalleled persuasion skills, we finally manage to find the marvel that is the 68-year-old EMCO Opticians. “All I need to know is a person’s gender, age and weight and I can give them the perfect frame for them,” says Manohar Mirchandani, an extremely self-assured, confident and super suave 64-year-old, who is also the force behind this hidden treasure. Stacked away, one on top of the other, in this store’s show windows are frames dating back to 1950, which seem to have appeared straight out of the most sought after fashion magazines. From steampunk sunglasses to browline frames, EMCO Opticians is your one-stop vintage eyewear fix. If the glasses don’t tempt you enough just head there to chat with Mr. Mirchandani, who promises not to disappoint with his witty one-liners and bucket loads of anecdotes. And just in case you begin to doubt the quality or style, here are a few words of reassurance for you — “If I don’t like the frames and they don’t look good on me, I break them and throw them away, so quality is never a problem,” states Mr. Mirchandani.
Where: 55 Colaba Causeway, Shah House, Opp. Colaba Police Station, Mumbai - 400001.
Price: Starting at INR 400.
II. V. Naumal Qualified Opticians
Established in 1965, V. Naumal Qualified Opticians has been run by the Mirchandani family from the get go. While doing away with any assumptions of them being related to EMCO Opticians down the road, Gopal Mirchandani does acknowledge that his store along with EMCO Opticians were one of the very first opticians to set shop in this neighbourhood. However, Gopal Mirchandani’s approach towards vintage eyewear is starkly different from his peer down the road. “I stock whatever I think will draw my customer towards the store. I do not interfere in the buying process and try my best to give to the customers exactly what they are looking for,” said Mr. Mirchandani. With frames ranging from oversized frames to candy coloured retro pieces, this store not only offers a wide array of options but can customize lenses for any frames you might own and want to fix.
Where: 33, Citywalk House, Bank Of Baroda, next to Citywalk, Colaba, Mumbai - 400033.
Price: Starting at INR 300.
III. M.B. Opticians
A regular optician at first glance, M.B. opticians will pull out their shoe boxes full of vintage goodies when you specifically ask for them. The collection is limited, but if lucky, you can get your hands on some rare vintage pieces.
Where: 4B, Kulsum Terrace, Gr. Floor, 93, Colaba Causeway, Mumbai - 400001.
Price: INR 1,000 to INR 2,000.
IV. Jewel Box Opticians
Jewel Box Opticians located on Colaba Causeway is another store with a deceptive facade. Don’t be fooled by the extremely modern look of the place and the numerous latest pieces of eyewear on display. If in need of some vintage pieces, just ask and out will come a tray from under the counter. The limited collection is majoritarily made up of frames with only a few options for dark glasses.
Where: Kulsum Terrace, Shop no. 5, 91 Colaba Causeway, Opp. Electric House, Mumbai 400039.
Price: INR 500 to INR 1,200.
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