Any brand that lasts over a century has a special ingredient that gives it the staying power needed to navigate this often turbulent world. For eyewear label Moscot, that special ingredient is pride in its Lower East Side roots and its family business philosophy.
Headed by the Moscot family for five generations, Moscot is a household name in the eyewear world with the frames to match its reputation. We’re taking a closer look at the New York-based eyewear institute from its humble pushcart beginnings right through to modern-day Moscot.
The Moscot story starts with Jewish immigrant Hyman Muschot, who in 1899, left Belarus to escape the oppression and pogroms of Eastern Europe. He set off for New York via Ellis Island, whereupon his arrival, his surname was simplified from Muschot to Moscot.
He landed in the immigrant community of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he began selling ready-made eyeglasses from a wooden pushcart on Orchard Street. Speaking only Yiddish, Hyman served the many Eastern European immigrants that settled Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the beginning of the twentieth century.
After earning a loyal following at his pushcart, Hyman opened the first Moscot opticians in the same neighborhood at 94 Rivington St. The location was heavily decorated, filling its windows with signs, posters, and drawings of giant eyes and glasses.
In 1925, Hyman’s youngest son, Solomon, nicknamed “Sol,” took over the business at the tender age of 15. In 1935, Moscot’s moved its shop to 118 Orchard Street, where it would go on to be located for nearly 80 years. At this point, Moscot was simply an optician, fitting lenses to glasses frames.
Moscot’s bright yellow signage—then known as Sol Moscot—became iconic in New York’s LES, and the optician’s loyal, local customer base saw the brand steer through the Great Depression. Sol’s son, Joel Moscot, began leading Sol Moscot in 1951 and did so for over fifty years.
When eyewear manufacturing left the shores of the USA in the 1960s-1980s, Joel oversaw the sourcing of key styles made famous in the height of the 1950s for the loyal clientele of his opticians.
Joel’s sons became the fourth generation of Moscots to take charge of the business. The oldest, Harvey, graduated optometry school in 1986 and began working as a doctor at the Sol Moscot’s 118 Orchard St. location. Ten years later, Sol Moscot’s expanded, opening a second location in downtown Manhattan.
After Joel retired in 2003, the fourth generation Moscots, led by Harvey, rebranded the company from Sol Moscot’s to simply Moscot. And in 2013, fifth-generation Moscot, Zack, became the company’s chief eyewear designer.
He oversaw the design overhaul that has seen Moscot grow from a neighborhood optical shop to a global brand. He took influence from key styles sold by Moscot for generations to create full collection of company branded frames.
It is only in recent years that MOSCOT has become recognized for eyewear manufacturing, but its core philosophy has always been that of a neighborhood optician to its customers through its shops in New York City. The brand sees itself as a part of the fabric of New York and remains, at heart, a neighborhood eye shop.
“The Moscot’s have long taken great pride in providing optical expertise and a memorable in-shop experience to our fans and customers, and it is this kind of passion that continues to draw me in.” – Zack Moscot, speaking with Ape To Gentleman
Moscot eyewear features period details such as cable temples, real rivets that are sturdily staked through the frame front and temple to ensure long-lasting quality, traditional hardware, and real mineral glass sunglass lenses that precisely duplicate the old-school colors have been sold by the company since the 1940s.
Today, Moscot is still headed by fourth-generation family member and president Harvey Moscot. The collection designed by Zack Moscot is separated into two lines—Originals and Spirit.
“The MOSCOT/Originals Collection harkens back to decades’ past of MOSCOT and downtown New York City culture. We turned 102 years old in January, so that means we have a lot of styles in our archives to choose from! We look for 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.
The MOSCOT/Spirit Collection consists of new designs but maintain the same DNA as The MOSCOT/Originals in quality, materials, construction, and colour palette. I have more freedom to explore new concepts in design and technology, but at the end of the day, both collections are distinctly MOSCOT and maintain a core identity that is classiconic™. ” – Zack Moscot, speaking with Ape to Gentleman
Despite their New York roots, Moscot frames are made in China. According to the brand’s FAQ on their website:
“On average, a MOSCOT frame requires approximately 130+ steps until completion and is expertly crafted in our factory in China that has been a part of the family for nearly 50 years! Our prescription lenses are fabricated in our NYC Laboratory before we dispense them to you.”
The company now has fourteen locations, including international branches in London, Rome, and South Korea. Each shop has licensed opticians to give eye exams and the full range of their styles.
Unlike many other eyewear brands, Moscot branded frames come in multiple sizes for different face shapes and bone structures.