Finding a fresh pair of everyday sunglasses is surprisingly tricky. They need to be trendy and versatile enough for any type of outfit — but not so trendy that the style fades out by the end of summer. They need to be durable enough for all your summer activities, from bike riding to beach bumming, affordable enough so they don’t break the bank, and they need a dash of personality so they stand out and shine in a sea of generic black shades. With these checkpoints in mind, we’ve scoped out five rad game-changing sunglass brands — all of which launched within the past year — that you need to expose your eyes to. With these new sun-shielding accessories in tow, there’s no need to throw shade this summer.
It’s no surprise that your favorite new sunglasses would emerge from Down Under — the folks who live in Australia are experts in sunwear, after all. "Australia has an incredible outdoor environment, but the climate can be quite harsh. Sunglasses here are a necessity for most people,” says Ash Bunn, founder of the Melbourne-based Hungry Eyewear. But still, Bunn knew not to rush through the launch process, even if the need for sunnies is a constant. "We spent a year and a half designing and developing the first collection. Details were a priority,” he says of the brand that launched June 2014. “We drew inspiration mostly from other products: a shoe sole, a watch dial, a knife blade. They all helped contribute in some way to the product design." Look carefully at the details — handcrafted acetate, polarized spherical lenses, stainless steel accents — and you’ll see why Hungry shades are poised to become instant classics.
Smoke x Mirrors
You’re right to assume that a name like Smoke x Mirrors is shrouded in mystery and edge. And, lucky for us, this NYC-based brand delivers exactly that with its sunglasses. To strike that downtown cool, co-founders (and cousins) David Shabtai and Roi Ironi looked to the '50s, '60s, and '70s punk and rock that they grew up with — Jacques Dutronc, Jefferson Airplane, Curtis Mayfield, and Iggy Pop, to name a few — for timeless design inspiration. “The heart of the brand mirrors that of a record label, iconic on its own but adaptive and varied through each artist,” says Shabtai. “We launched Smoke x Mirrors with the goal of creating luxury unisex eyewear that puts quality, craftsmanship, and design before branding.” And, with each pair handcrafted in France with high-quality materials like acetate and steel, these shades are made to last. It goes without saying that rocking out hard is highly encouraged.
Brooklyn-based Dusen Dusen is no stranger to our audience. Owner/designer Ellen Van Dusen been garnering fans since 2010 for her line’s bright colors, funky prints, and bold styles on easygoing silhouettes of oversized dresses and silk tops. (She even launched a home line this year.) But, it was the addition of a Dusen Dusen sunglass line that really caught our eyes last spring. “I have always loved sunglasses and I liked the idea of working with really simple shapes to create the frames,” she says. “Each style is named after the basic shape of the frame: circle, triangle, oval, square.” The shapes may be basic but the frame designs — of swirly green marble, blushing clear pink, and caramel tortoise — are exactly what you’d expect from Dusen Dusen: bold.
You can say that this sunglass brand gets an A+ for its philanthropic agenda. Though the company is based out of the unassuming Flint, Michigan, Aframes is dedicated to a bigger, worldwide mission: “I started Aframes for one reason, to raise awareness and funding for vitamin A supplementation in developing nations,” says founder Wes Stoody. “Most Americans don’t know that about one million children die or go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency. And, even more shocking, it costs just one dollar for a year’s worth of supplements for one child.” So, with that in mind, the concept behind Aframes was born — with every pair sold, $2 is donated to Helen Keller International, which helps distribute the life-saving vitamin. “Aframes is a brand focused on vitamin A supplementation, while providing our customers with incredibly stylish, high-quality eyewear. Sunglasses are one of the most personal items you can purchase. They can transform your style, confidence, and public perception.” Insert hearts-for-eyes emoji here.
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