Discover the Sunglass Lab edits
Q: As a stylist, have you noticed sunglasses becoming more popular? A: Yes, sunglasses are now more popular than ever before. Just look at the number of brands doing sunglass collaborations. Q: Do you think the fact that we live in a time so obsessed with our portrait plays a part? A: Totally. I read an interesting article by a well-known trend forecaster where she said that our generation is so focused on this part of the body [gesturing to her face and shoulders] because of the selfie. All the details are focused on this area. For sunglasses in particular, there is just something so timeless about them, they always give you a certain coolness. When you wear your sunglasses, you separate yourself from the people around you. Even if someone is just wearing shades, they look almost like they’re untouchable.
Q: Why do you think a good pair of shades is key? A: For me, sunglasses are like a picture frame for your face. You can have a beautiful picture but if you don’t have the right frame, it won’t look great, so it’s very important to choose the right one. Q: How do you pick which shades to wear? A: I always let my mood decide, how I feel that day. Q: What advice would you give to someone shopping for sunglasses? A: There’s always a lot of trends, but from my point of view, your sunglasses should be something that suits you. It’s not about trends, they should make you feel good, give you confidence and empower you in a certain way.
Q: What were your favorite shades this summer? A:I love the cat-eye thing that’s been going on for a while now. It’s a classic kind of shape, but now it’s being redone in a way that’s more futuristic, more extreme, but still very cattish. And then, of course, there are the wrapped sport shades. We’re going back to the ‘90s. Q: Are sunglasses something that you can wear all year round? A: Yeah. Especially in Berlin with all the club culture. It doesn’t matter what season it is, it’s about coming out of the club and putting your protection on so you feel like you’re invisible for a second. Q: What do you think the next big trend will be? A: I think we will play with more color, more volume, and different textures. Brands from the 2000s are going to make a comeback too, as are sunglasses from that time. And then there’ll always be the classics. The classics will never be out of fashion.
What micro-shades were to 2018, oversized sporty shades are to 2019. The appeal of this bold style is similar to that of chunky sneakers – the “anti-fashion”, clunky tech aesthetic combined with the revived love of everything ‘90s. These eye-catching designs are stacked with attitude and when it comes to flexing them, the bigger and bolder the better. Inspired by motocross and cycling goggles, sporty frames are characterized by their aerodynamic shield lens shape, lightweight frames, and polarized lenses.
Rave culture is just one of many style movements that have instilled our shades with meaning over the years. During the raving heydays in the ‘90s, shades served both a functional and an aesthetic purpose – they were an integral style accessory while protecting dilated pupils from blinding strobe lights. This summer, the influence of ‘90s rave culture has once more infiltrated in the form of mono-color sunglasses. Wherever you live, you’ll have noticed tinted translucent frames with lenses to match have been everywhere this summer. It’s a playful look that’s not the easiest to get right, but when done well mono-color shades are a great way to add a hit of color to a low-key ‘fit.
Last year was without question the year of Matrix-style micro sunglasses, but this popular skinny-framed shade has continued to stand its ground this summer and shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. Now that this early 2000s look has firmly established itself, contemporary brands are reimagining tiny frames and introducing unexpected shapes, materials, and colors to tweak the popular design.
As our penchant for shades swings towards those that add a little extra, luxury brands are taking experimental liberties and raising the bar with imaginative new designs. This new wave of luxury sunglasses doesn’t fall into any one category but takes cues from the OTT trends dominating the streets this summer whether that’s full color, tech wear, or exaggerated shapes, and merging them into something unexpected.
Lenses are generally made of either glass or plastic. Glass lenses offer the clearest vision and they’re also more solid and scratch resistance. Plastic lenses are typically made of either polyamide, polycarbonate, or a material dubbed CR-39. Polycarbonate is the lightest of the plastics and the most resistant alternative to crystal glass, while polyamide generally provides the best vision quality. CR-39 is the most widely used and the go-to material for polarized lenses. Broadly speaking, most sunglasses are made of either metal, nylon fiber, or acetate. Nylon fiber aka plastic is one of the most resistant and versatile materials around. Generally speaking, metal is favored for its resistant properties and clean, classic look. Acetate is a non-petroleum based plastic composed mainly of natural materials. As a material, it’s more supple than regular plastic, can be made totally transparent and can be used to make more complex colors.
Blue lenses improve color perception and help define the contours of objects. Green lenses add warm tones to what you see and improve contrast, which helps reduce eye strain. Yellow and brown lenses are best for judging depth perception. If you want to see the world as in its most filter-less form opt for gray lenses, as they deliver the truest color perception. Lenses can be full colored or feature a gradient effect. The faded look isn’t just about style, but it also has benefits for your eyes as it makes it easier to see in various light conditions.
Nowadays, nearly all sunglasses provide full protection from UV rays, but what you should be looking out for in your shades is what’s known as the ‘protection index’. When looking to cop shades for everyday use, look for ones with a protection index of one to three to be safe. There are other lens treatments that affect how a lens looks as well as its level of protection. Polarization helps block glare from the sun, keeping your vision sharp and clear even in situations of bright sunlight. Photochromic lenses adapt depending on the intensity of the sunlight. Then there are photo-polar lenses, which block glare and adapt to changing sunlight conditions. Finally, there are mirrored lenses, which reflects sunlight hitting the surface of the lens, stopping it from reaching your eyes.
Q: What do you look for when you buy a new pair of shades? A: Mainly, that I like the shape, the colors and that it fits my face. I usually get this ‘oh yes, baby’ feeling, when a pair really suits me. Then I take it home and love it forever. Q: How do you work a pair of sunglasses into your outfit? A: Sometimes sunglasses are the first thing I pick and then go from there. Sometimes it’s the other way around and I need to find the perfect sunglasses to complete the look. I usually feel like an outfit is unfinished without sunglasses.
Q: Sunglasses are becoming an increasingly important and playful accessory, why do you think that is? A: Like watches, trainers or anything to do with an expression of self and style, these things become an extension of your personal style and taste. Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to start building a collection of shades? A: Invest and buy what you love, not what’s trending. Your style and taste will always change so it will make for a more interesting and lasting collection if you so choose what you love.
Q: Talk us through your sunglass collection. A: I have a pretty classic approach to sunglasses, but I do like to have a variation. We’re talking about aviation and military-inspired frames, or even frames inspired from ’50s or ’60s Americana shapes, but with a subtle twist to them. Q: Why do you think it’s important to have a solid selection of sunglasses? A: It’s nice to play around, you tell stories by wearing a certain shape or color. People tend to underestimate the power that accessories have in creating great outfits – they can add another layer and elevate even the most basic look.
A square face is probably the easiest to spot as it means you basically have an angular face. Defining features include a chiseled brow and broad jawline that are roughly the same width. Rounded designs are always a good option. Consider aviators, oval and round frames, or, if you’ve been blessed with a particularly defined jawline, semi-rimless styles too.
If your face is roughly as long as it is wide, you fall into the “round” category. If this is the case for you, then look out for options that offset your facial contours and add sharpness. Go for angular-shaped or horizontal frames – they’ll elongate your face and make it look longer. If you’re wanting to make more of a statement with your shades, check out shield or wrapped styles.
An oval face is taller than it is wide and isn’t too angular around the brow or jaw, which means you can pull off just about any style – from tea shades to Oakley’s sport shades. Rounded frames work as do sharp-cornered ones, and styles that sweep upwards such as butterfly frames will complement high cheekbones. If you want to balance out the length of your face, then go for a heavy-framed rectangular option.
If you have a broad brow and a narrow chin, chances are you have a heart-shaped face. In this case, pick styles that balance out brow-jaw proportions and draw attention downwards. Go-to sunglasses for the heart-shape-faced among us include low profile or light-colored frames that add length to your face. Frames with thin temples or embellished bottoms can also help to elongate the face.
When we think of Americana, we probably think of dusty roadside motels and distressed denim. From a sunglasses perspective, one can’t overlook the effortless cool some silhouettes provided. It’s easy to see why the Americana trend buoyed brands to great heights, and why some continue to be an important piece of the sartorial puzzle.
If you want to wear sunglasses inside, we suggest having a couple of gold records hanging on your wall. But in all seriousness, the small accessory played a huge role in establishing a sense of mysteriousness for the people we’ve elevated to rock royalty. Sunglasses go a long way in creating a sense of character. It’s equally about what you want the world to know about you, while simultaneously wanting to keep certain things hidden.
Whereas designations like “rock” and “hip-hop” can be used to simply indicate genres of music, the latter has become so pervasive in influencing modern fashion that it would be quite limiting to define it solely as such. From a sunglasses standpoint, hip-hop reinforced how classic silhouettes could be built upon using flashier additions that still remained core to a brand’s DNA.
Both utilitarian — and an outward statement of the willingness to push the boundaries on social etiquette — sunglasses during this movement got larger and more technicolor in design. While rave fashion has run the gamut, sunglasses have remained an integral piece of the sartorial puzzle. Tinted lenses, oversized frames, and like with everything in fashion, we’ve seen styles from the ‘90s come back to great effect.