The Essential Journal catches up with Zack Moscot of legendary eyewear brand Moscot, a ‘New York City Institution renowned worldwide for its iconic eyewear’.
How long have you been actively involved in the business?
I’ve been spending time in the Shop since I was a little boy. My grandmother still likes to tell me a story: when I was about four years old we drove into the city to visit my dad and grandfather at work and the second we pulled up to the street the Shop is on I said, “Let me out, I’m an owner!”. I still don’t know where I got that language from at such a young age, but from then on it was clear to all that I wanted to be a part of the family business. I spent summers during middle school and high school interning at MOSCOT, engaging in a range of activities such as customer service, sales, and later on in marketing and design. Immediately after I graduated college, I joined the business and have never looked back! I’m now approaching my 5th full year in the business.
Did you ever think about a life away from optics?/What’s your design background?
I always envisioned what MOSCOT could be and how I could find my own unique position within the business. I have a passion for design, and enjoy evolving the relationship between objects and people. The optical business provided an opportunity to explore design, fashion, and optics — a unique combination of utility, necessity, and emotional aesthetics.
I earned my Bachelors in Industrial Design from the University of Michigan, with a focus on the fabrication and ergonomics of eyewear. Although all Moscot generations before me were opticians and my father was an optometrist, as the brand’s fifth generation and product designer, I aim to continue telling the story of my family legacy through the product.
Do you feel a pressure for the future, being the 5th generation in the business?
Yes, I always feel pressure…if I didn’t feel any pressure, I’d be concerned! When I first entered the business, I had a lot of angst since I really had no formal optical background. My predecessors were licensed opticians and my father, Harvey, is an eye doctor (O.D.). While I knew I always wanted to join the business, I never really had a passion for the eyeballs per se. I did, however, have a passion and eye for design. Fortunately, my father appreciates my design background as I am able to approach the business with a new and creative perspective. Together, we are a solid team and create product that not only looks good, but is designed with optical expertise to provide the ultimate fit for all face shapes.
How do you go about choosing past frames from the archives to bring back?
The MOSCOT/Originals Collection harkens back to decades past of MOSCOT and downtown New York City culture. We just turned 102 years old in January, so that means we have a lot of archives to choose from! We look for the classic and timeless models that we believe are universal in design, fit, and transcend multi-cultural fashion. Like a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and wing-tip shoes, MOSCOT frames are classic. New models and releases may reflect a certain time period or theme, but by keeping things simple, they easily find relevance in our contemporary world.
Have you found some classics in the archives you want to use, but are waiting for the right time?
Absolutely! In recent years, eyewear has become a fashion accessory and many people understand the need for multiple pairs! With that said, we find trends in eyewear to be more daring, with consumers making bolder choices. We have some interesting shapes coddled in the archive drawers, waiting for the right time.
As a designer do you prefer working with the authenticity of the Originals collection or the freedom of the Spirit collection?
I really love working with both collections and what they both mean to the brand. As a designer, I appreciate what The MOSCOT/Originals Collection represents: time-honoured designs with a pure connection to an authentic past. In the same way, I enjoy exploring the colour palette and pushing the boundaries with our MOSCOT/Spirit Collection. In the end, both collections are MOSCOT and maintain a core identity that is classiconic™.
Colour seems to be a strong part of things in recent years – the taxi range and now the frost, cinnemon and blush. How do you decide which direction to go with colour?
For the most part, MOSCOT stays within a core colour palette of varying authentic hues: tortoiseshell, blonde, black, etc. Recently, we introduced lighter and transparent colours that allow the acetate to appear softer on the face — colours that are easy to wear, work with many skin tones. These new lighter hues, such as blush, cinnamon and frost, embrace many skin tones, while subtly absorbing and reflecting the colours of the surrounding light.
Moscot seems to have a lot of brand loyalty from customers, why do you think this is?
Our 102 year-old, family business with five generations behind the name, is truly what sets MOSCOT a part. All four generations before me were dedicated to their customers by providing the ultimate optical experience. Sol, 2nd generation, used to tell customers, “Your vision is our concern!” At the heart of MOSCOT, not much has changed – we are constantly striving to make our loyal fans and customers happy by providing a memorable experience and timeless, quality eyewear. We’re focused on the relationships we build and our morals of doing things for the right reasons. We believe our honesty and humble attitude is why generations of customers have put their trust in us and return to MOSCOT.
In a time when so many brands seem to be getting bought out, how important do you think staying independent is?
Staying independent is critical. We remain family-owned and operated for over 100 years! It is exactly this kind of DNA that separates MOSCOT from other eyewear conglomerates out there. When one wears a pair of MOSCOT frames, he or she is wearing 100+ years of downtown New York City heritage and family history. A MOSCOT frame represents an immigrant story of my great-great-grandfather who escaped oppression and came to America in 1899 to start a new life. There is a certain emotional connection between a MOSCOT frame and the wearer. It’s more than a pair of glasses and my father and I still stand behind the counter with the same pride and passion, as generations before us did.