For those who think in fashion, few brands are as synonymous with the engaging history of old-world New York as MOSCOT. The legendary eyewear brand, founded in 1915, is the stuff of Big Apple legend. While many know it today for its hip sunnies and practical optical wear, MOSCOT’s story is one of deep inspiration.
It Started on a Pushcart
It all began in Belarus, where a young man, Hyman Moschot, boarded a ship to depart his motherland at the turn of the 20th century. His destination: Ellis Island, New York, by way of a ship full of eager emigrants in search of a new life.
Almost immediately, his story — like so many others who found success in America — was cemented. While at the customs hall, an officer swiftly changed his original surname to Moscot. Unbeknownst to Hyman, it was the start of something enormous as he boarded another ferry for Manhattan.
Because he worked in the optical field in Belarus, it was not difficult for Hyman to determine that this was the best course of action for him to continue in this new, foreign land. Using a wooden pushcart, he hawked eyeglasses on Orchard Street, quickly making a name for himself among immigrants who understood Yiddish.
Those early days served as a formative period for Hyman, who married in 1910 and, with his young family, opened a storefront on Rivington Street. Moscot’s was an immediate success, thanks in part to the eye-catching windows that jubilantly exalted the company’s services: “glasses fitted,” it read, and “eyes examined.”
A close-up of an eye framed each side of the store’s logo, with a pair of glasses suspended above the entryway. Intriguingly, some in literary circles theorize that F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote “The Great Gatsby” during this period, was inspired by this enigmatic store window when he imagined the advertising billboard for Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, which features enormous blue eyes encircled in sleek yellow spectacles.
It’s a Family Affair
Business was in full swing by the 1930s, at which point Hyman’s son, Sol, took a governing hand and moved the company’s flagship store. The new location, at the corner of Orchard and Delancey, also boasted a new name: Sol Moscot. With a vibrant yellow banner, it stood out on the busy street, a pair of gigantic sunglasses overlooking Delancey in much the same way Dr. Eckleburg did in the novel.
A Lower East Side institution, MOSCOT remained in the family from one generation to the next. Its Chief Design Officer, Zack Moscot, is the great-great-grandson of Hyman, and his father, Harvey, is the company’s CEO. Harvey’s late brother, Kenny, also played a major role in developing the brand on an international level. In fact, it’s thanks to these two that the cozy mom-and-pop company eventually expanded into a name with serious global reach.
Making a Spectacle
Naturally, it takes more than an interesting background story to sell a pair of eyeglasses. It takes grit, determination, and a certain vision for the future. All of those serve as the cornerstones for the growth of MOSCOT, which, at its core, is all about creating accessories made with only the highest quality materials.
Indeed, the company’s eyewear is known to stand the test of time. Authentic hardware and sturdy hinges supply the essential security needed to withstand routine wear, ensuring that the fronts of the frames and the temples are as tough and durable as possible.
Each pair is designed and hand made in New York City. Before the glasses ever meet customers, they’re put through a rigorous inspection process in the company’s city lab. This treatment includes adjustments, cleaning, and a comprehensive analysis prior to selling or shipping. Quality control ensures that the glasses fit like a dream and are up to the MOSCOT standards for design and integrity.
Inspired by styles from the family’s rich archives, the Originals collection includes frames popularized from the 1930s to the 1980s. While very much constructed in the 21st century, these pieces bear the authentic details that set them apart from their modern-day counterparts.
These are faithful replicas that truly resonate with the story of MOSCOT. You’ll see it in the Italian acetate used to design the MOMZA, a veritable work of art bearing classic tortoise tones. The melding of the worlds — hints of light and dark — lend the glasses a no-fuss, old-world appeal.
Through the ages, folks like Buddy Holly, Truman Capote, and Johnny Depp have all rocked the LEMTOSH. The iconic sunglasses feature the distinctive round shape everyone knows and loves. That it’s commanded the attention of visionaries is no surprise; it’s unique in its own way, allowing the wearer color choices ranging from classic matte black and blonde to more adventurous emerald and ruby.
For those who prefer a lighter weight frame, the ZEV holds nothing back. Each pair has a story to tell, and MOSCOT informs that this pair was named for Sol’s cousin, Zeyfer Braunstein, also known as Zev. He himself sported the frames whenever he needed an extra dose of style to make the case. Today, these sleek and understated glasses continue to make a statement among students, creatives, and business-minded folks alike.
What is growth without change? What is successful change without a thorough reimagining of the past with a firm nod to how things should look in the future? Any brand worth its success recognizes that tides must shift in order to remain relevant — that while there’s room to honor the archives, there’s also plenty of welcome space to issue new designs and introduce new concepts.
Such is the case with the Spirit collection. It’s MOSCOT’s nod to the past and wave to the future rolled into one. They’re all designed with high-quality materials and the strictest attention to detail, yet feature fresh silhouettes that feel more contemporary. Given the company’s reputation for producing legendary eyewear, there’s no question these are the frames people will look back on decades from now.
JARED is a strong example of the brand’s goals for the Spirit range. It takes its cue from styles of the past and offers a hint of traditionalism in its silhouette. Yet these frames sit a little taller and offer a little more spunk, making them firm contenders for any fashion follower’s collection. You can even snap up a clip to transform your eyeglasses into sunglasses.
Inspired by the ’70s but with more of a modern front, the BJORN is very much a product of the MOSCOT story. Hints of history are present, but it’s available in an on-trend translucent frame for those who are all about the color-free look. The oversized silhouette is just noticeable enough, but won’t overwhelm the face.
For those who are pretty square and also pretty proud of it, the TRAVIS comes at you full force. These no-nonsense frames feature a little height, a boxy silhouette, and a dominating quality that stands out. There’s a classy sophistication about these, yet it’s discreet — never overwhelming or in your face.
In the Sun
Making statements comes easy when you’ve got a pair of MOSCOT sunglasses in your arsenal. The styles here are undeniably bold and fashionable. Even those that err on the side of simplicity feel decidedly more polished and memorable than anything you’ve owned in the past.
Like the eyeglasses, the sunglasses lineup is separated into Originals and Spirits. A glance at the DRIMMEL SUN from the Originals range is enough to transport you back to another era altogether. The unabashed cool cat of your wardrobe, these enigmatic sunnies are a little square, a little round, but never rough around the edges.
If you prefer a more contemporary look, check the Spirit collection for your fare. The DEVON SUN takes its cue from styles popularized in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, but is thoroughly modernized with expert design techniques and state-of-the-art materials that create balance. In grey, it’s a versatile pair that goes with anything you own.
Begone, Blue Light
MOSCOT even offers a solution for those of us who can’t stop looking at our screens. The Digital Relief (DR) range includes both eyeglasses and clips designed to filter out potent blue light, exposure to which can cause eye sensitivity and lead to strain.
Forgo the side effects associated with reading on your tablet or tapping away at your keyboard with a pair of DR MILTZEN-T glasses. Available in a trio of chic colors, they’re made with light titanium — and also happen to be designed by Zack Moscot, proving that the fifth generation is just as groundbreaking as the first.
Prefer to make a bolder statement with your eyewear? Another Zack creation that does a dazzling job of protecting your eyes is DR ZULU-T. They’re well defined, with a shapely silhouette that’s flattering on most face shapes. Of course, if you already own a pair of MOSCOT eyeglasses that you love, you can snag a DR CLIPTOSH and snap it onto those for instant relief.
Despite its success, the company remains true to its humble roots. It’s a neighborhood establishment through and through. Its values are deeply rooted in the fabric of the community — a true testament to its rich history and the inspiring decision Hyman made so many years ago to come to America in search of a better life.