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Rigards ‘RG0003′ Custom Buffalo Horn Frames

By Julian Loh, March 19, 2013

Using real African water buffalo horn as their canvas, Rigards make exceedingly fine eyewear that is entirely handcrafted. I took them up on their custom service offer, but was warned that it may take a long time due to the sourcing of the particular colour I wanted. Finally, here’s the outcome after a 4-month wait – the RG0003 in ivory colour.

I really wanted something unique, not Elton John or Lady Gaga unique, more like that pair of raw denim you’ve worn ’til they’re completely seasoned and all the rips, fraying, whiskers, fading etc are – for better or worse – exclusive to you. Buffalo horn might not be able to be broken-in like denim, but horn is unique in that it’s natural state is never completely perfect, and it’s the irregular tones and marks that make it so alluring.

I wanted a natural ivory colour with some translucent parts, not only because it shows off the natural beauty of the buffalo horn, but I thought it looks a a bit like actual bone, which in my mind would give me mucho “headhunter” street cred …. Yes, my actual words to them is make sure I look like a psycho that just killed a man and turned his skull into a pair of reading glasses.

Anyway, apart from that here’s a quick Q&A with the Rigards team regarding the development process of my frames.

Tell me more about the horn colour I chose
You have chosen the RG0003, in ivory color. Horns are primarily black or dark in color, ivory color horn is extraordinarily rare and therefore that much more valuable. Our approach is always to preserve the horn’s inherent beauty, respecting its imperfections and variations. The treatment is a matte finish that reflects on the horn’s qualities and character as an integral part of the frame.

Why did it take so long to produce?
Most eyeglasses today are manufactured in the hundreds or even thousands from large acetate sheets that measure up to 200cm x 100cm. Rigards frames are hand-crafted one at a time, relying on a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Horn plates come no larger than 16cm x 6cm after flattening (roughly the size of a U.S. one dollar bill) — big enough for just a single pair of glasses. In the case of your glasses, there is the added complexity of matching the grains on the temples up with the patterns on the frame. We start by cutting the outline with a coping saw, followed with a series of technique largely done by hand. Our small team does everything in-house, and each craftsman is responsible for a pair of glasses from start to finish. In the case of RG0003, only 200 pairs will be made, and each pair bears an individual number, proving its place amidst its rare, hand-crafted siblings (like yours).

What are some of the unique craftsmanship elements on my frames?
Matte treatment is accomplished mostly by tedious hand polishing, as opposed to polished treatment which can be achieved quickly with a polishing wheel and wax. There’s also the subtle but vital art of matching grain color and direction, without which the painstakingly created frames would fall short in the appearance department. Underlining the craftsmanship is of course the fact that because they are individually handmade using nature’s bounty, no two frames are entirely the same. Even if it is the same model, there will inevitably be sensitive variations. Your frame will be unique in the true sense of the word.

If you would like to custom your own pair of Rigards frames, you can get in touch with them, but be warned due to being a small team of artisans, it may take up to six months. 

Within Southeast Asia, you can buy Rigards’ Spring/Summer ’13 collection from Kanzai Optic and Club 21 in Bangkok, or Reliance Optical in Kuala Lumpur.

You can also order them online from Farfetch, SSENSE, Hlorenzo, 24Aug and Ink Clothing.

Pics: Jules @ Streething