We’ve come a long way from basic aviators. In a world where wild neon, retro oversized, and mirror-lensed sunglasses are high style, it’s hard to fathom that there was a time, not long ago, when it was considered radical - and indulgent - to own more than one basic pair. Most folks, especially those needing a prescription, made a single purchase that was neutral-looking enough to match any outfit and any occasion.
Fast forward to today and we’re a nation of proud shades collectors, adventurous and among the quickest to adopt glasses trends - and for good reason. All the sinister things that the sun does to skin apply to vision, too. UV rays penetrate our eyes and cause cumulative damage, irreversible macular degeneration and even cataracts over time.
But sunglasses’ serious purpose doesn’t mean they have to be subtle or boring, says Stewart Walton, vice president of product at optical giant Luxottica. “Nowadays sunglasses are an extension of a person’s look, a representation of their personality, so we definitely see a lot more people buying multiple pairs at once,” he says.
“Once upon a time, the sunglass business in Australia was centred around Ray-Ban Aviators and Wayfarers, but now people are looking for evolutions of the classics, something with a twist, and interesting colours,” Walton says.
Here’s the lowdown of the hottest shade trends for summer.
“There have always been retro influences in our collections, but 1970s-inspired styles are a key trend for next year,” Walton says. “This includes retro acetate frames, big squares, oversized ovals, and colours that are a more earthy, mottled and neutral. We’re seeing more green lenses coming through, too.”
How to wear it: Earthy colours are almost universally flattering. Team with whites, creams and natural linens for a laid-back look.
This means everything from neon colours to mirrored glass and radical shapes. Just as the high-vis colours of the late ’80s and early ’90s have resurged on fashion runways, bright sunglasses now hot property. Case in point: the limited-edition Post Malone range created with Arnette for OPSM, which includes a bold yellow acetate frame.
How to wear it: Tempting as it is to keep the rest of your outfit neutral for balance, this trend is best worn with a street-vibe look that also incorporates brights and prints.
“Metals have traditionally been the poor cousin to plastic acetate, particularly in Europe, but there has been a real push over the past two years to do more interesting things with gold, silver, rose-gold, and even gunmetal grey materials,” Walton says.
How to wear it: Universally flattering, metal frames are among the easiest to wear, and are especially good teamed with a suited or formal look.
From triangles to straight edges pressed into ovals, this trend embraces angles and non-organic forms. Prada Sun’s rounded frames with the deep V under the bridge are a more subtle interpretation. At the other end of the spectrum, Burberry’s triangular style means business.
How to wear it: Let your shades do the talking and team with a simple white shirt and classic jeans.
Another blast from the past, the full-wrap visor has been championed by celebrity aficionados of late. “For Australia this is a style really never went away, but now it’s back with a vengeance and being reinvented in a cool and futuristic way,” Walton says. “It’s definitely gone from something daggy to being at the height of cool.” Sex and the City star and style icon Sarah Jessica Parker recently created a collection for Sunglass Hut centred around this shield shape. Likewise, Fendi’s recent collab with rap star Nicki Minaj.
How to wear it: The whole point of this trend is to go big and bold, but make sure the frame wraps snugly around your face so it doesn’t feel awkward.
This trend has legs that just keep on running, but next season brings a fresh direction. “Mirrored lenses have become a real focus for all sports brands,” Walton says. “A few years ago, it was mainly Oakley that you’d see them in, but I think almost every brand now has a bright popping mirrored lens that really elevates a frame that could otherwise be conservative.”
How to wear it: Keep it casual. This is the ideal style for the beach or laid-back days off. Think shorts, relaxed T-shirts and, of course, sporting gear.
“Post Malone wasn’t an obvious fit for an optical partnership, but it has been fantastic for Arnette,” Walton says, adding that these ranges tend to embrace trends. “Ray-Ban just did one with a DJ called Peggy Gou which had a built-in chain. Sunglass Hut has the SJP [Sarah Jessica Parker] partnership, which has a shield style that’s a departure for someone like her.”
How to wear it: Your own way. Post Malone, Nicki and SJP would.