‘Living in History’ Campaign Celebrates Multigenerational Business on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

By Catherine Wolinski: Assistant Editor

NEW YORK—Family-owned eyewear retailer and manufacturer Moscot has embarked on an enthusiastic media campaign to commemorate its ties to the Lower East Side, the iconic Manhattan neighborhood where it has flourished for nearly 100 years. While the store has three locations, all in downtown Manhattan, the campaign specifically points to its oldest shop which sits amongst a handful of other multigenerational businesses in the small but storied neighborhood. A closer look at this traditional but lucrative brand uncovers that Moscot—as claimed in the campaign’s title—is truly “Living in History.”

Like many businesses in the neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century, Moscot was born by the hands of an Eastern European immigrant. Hyman Moscot began selling eyeglasses from a pushcart in 1899, and the makeshift company’s reigns eventually passed from father to son in 1925, when Sol Moscot took over its first brick-and-mortar location on Rivington Street. Eleven years later, the store moved to a new location on Orchard Street, where it has been since 1936. Presently on the brink of its fifth generation, the family-owned company felt the need to celebrate its longevity in, and loyalty to, the Lower East Side.

“In the melting pot of New York City, many businesses left,” said Harvey Moscot, OD, the store’s owner and company president. “Very few stayed and endured all the changes, and had the affinity and affection for this little area of Manhattan. [The ones that did] all share their pride in their families’ dedication in ensuring their business prevailed.”

With an upcoming Fall launch on the horizon, Moscot and co-president/marketing director Wendy Simmons aimed to find a way to introduce the season’s styles while drawing on the brand’s antiquity. To introduce the seven new frames of the Moscot Originals—the brand’s first collection, which replicates frames from the family archives—the company created a campaign that not only celebrated its Moscot’s story, but captured the history and charm of an area speckled with family trades that have remained over the decades: Russ & Daughters, a catering company on East Houston Street; Streit’s Matzo Company, a Kosher bakery on Rivington Street; and M. Katz Furniture, also located on Orchard Street, mere steps from Moscot.

According to Simmons, the idea wasn’t difficult to come by. “We’re always looking to create campaigns that are an accurate expression and representation of our brand and the collection that we’re launching,” Simmons said. “It seemed to be a very natural evolution, to think about our business as a fourth generation Lower East Side business, and what that meant. We landed upon this idea of celebrating our connection to the Lower East Side and our family history, and to do this for other families, too.”

As a way to incorporate businesses akin to their own, Moscot recruited local owners to be a part of the campaign. In lieu of professional models, the frames are photographed on Nikki Russ Federman, great-granddaughter of Joel Russ and fourth-generation chef and co-owner of Russ & Daughters; Aaron Gross, fifth-generation owner of The Streit’s Matzo Factory; Marty Katz, fourth generation owner of M. Katz & Son’s Furniture; and Theodora Moscot and Marilyn Blumengold, a Moscot family member. Mark Miller, a member of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) makes an appearance.

The photos will make up the Moscot Style Guide, the company’s look book which is released each Spring and Fall in conjunction with new product launches. The campaign will make its debut with the new Originals at SILMO, a trade show in Paris where the company introduces its new collection each year. After SILMO, the campaign will launch worldwide, with images adorning New York shops and distributors’ stores around the country and globe, as well as on Moscot’s website ( www.moscot.com) and social media outlets. The Orchard Street location will also host a preview night in the form of a gallery opening at the end of September.

—Catherine Wolinski