What We Wore wants your images of eyewear “in its various forms” for a new exhibition and collection

Wellcome Collection and What We Wore are taking submissions for images of glasses, sunglasses, and goggles to explore their place in youth style.

4 January 2022

After the success of the first edition of What We Wore, a blog and book documenting British style via the memories of the public, author Nina Manandhar is curating a new collection about how we look, literally. The latest edition, titled the People’s Eyewear collection, uses eyewear to investigate style throughout the decades. It is being developed in partnership with Wellcome Collection as part of In Plain Sight, an exhibition opening in Autumn 2022, which explores the subjectivity of sight and the tools that shape how we view the world and how we are seen by others.

This time accepting submissions beyond the UK, What We Wore has opened a public call-out until the end of January 2022, seeking images of people in eyewear in any form – from sunglasses to glasses and goggles – alongside captions about what they’re wearing. “The project has always been a people’s history of style, so we’re not looking for professional photos but ones taken by themselves, family or friends,” says photographer Nina Manandhar. People can submit via email, through the website, or by tagging #Peopleseyewear on Instagram.

So far, Nina says highlights in submissions have come from Seana Gavin, showing “her at a Solar Eclipse rave in Hungary in 1999”, Gary Card, “who has always worn his glasses impeccably well”, and from a selection of photographs from Zambia in the 1970s. With each new submission Nina receives, the photographer says: “It’s a bit like having a time machine.”


Mulenga Nkonga: People’s Eyewear collection (Copyright © Mulenga Nkonga, 1978)

In Plain Sight, the wider exhibition launching in summer, is curated by Laurie Britton Newell from the Wellcome and Ligaya Salazar, curator of Sneakers Unboxed at the Design Museum. It will present a range of perspectives, including that of non-visual learners, to critically reflect on the predominance of vision as a sense.

Nina Manandhar tells It's Nice That: “Eyewear has been an important element of youth style across the generations, but since I’ve been researching, I’ve discovered there isn’t a huge amount written about it from a personal perspective. The perception of glasses wearing has been through so many cultural shifts... It would be great to be able to draw out more personal style stories for people to engage in, to shed light on how eyewear has been part of how different youth cultures perform identities.”

GalleryNina Manandhar / What We Wore: People’s Eyewear collection


Copyright © Seana Gavin, 1999


Copyright © Clare Cumberlidge, 1984


Copyright © Gary Card, 2001


Copyright © Suzie Zebrowksi, 1984


Copyright © Nina Manandhar, 1997


Copyright © Rob Milton and Tess Farrington, 1983


Copyright © Ted Polhemus, 1976

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DJ Harvey: People’s Eyewear collection (Copyright © DJ Harvey, 1980)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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