Fashion is known for its cyclical nature, and the constant resurgence of retro sunglasses is a perfect example of how styles from the past can make a triumphant return.
Understanding The Revival
Fashion has a habit of dipping into the past and breathing new life into old styles. In today's digital age, it’s easier than ever for people to rummage through the archives and explore bygone trends. Sunglasses, in particular, have undergone various transformations over the years, providing a wealth of fashion inspiration for us to comb through.
You can get your hands on retro sunglasses by hunting down authentic vintage pieces in second-hand shops and online marketplaces – this can be incredibly rewarding but equally time-consuming. Luckily, there’s a more convenient option. Look at sunglasses by contemporary designers who take inspiration from vintage aesthetics.
Iconic Retro Sunglasses
There's no official rule for what counts as 'retro' or 'vintage,' but typically, items attain this status when they have aged around 20 to 30 years. With this in mind, it's no surprise that we're witnessing a resurgence of late '90s and early 2000s trends.
Let’s explore signature vintage sunglasses that have defined bygone eras and recognise the designers reviving these iconic looks.
Cat Eye Sunglasses
Popularised in the 1950s, cat eye sunglasses exude Hollywood elegance. Their flattering upswept and tapered design can be equally simple and sophisticated or decorative and playful.
To embrace this style, turn to contemporary designers such as Jimmy Choo, Prabal Gurung, and the bling-adorned Agent Provocateur. They’ve each taken the classic cat eye silhouette and reimagined it in fresh and unique ways. Modern iterations include experimenting with tinted lenses and elaborate gradient frames, making them perfect for adding excitement to even the most basic ensemble.
Small, round or oval sunglasses gained popularity in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. They flatter nearly all face shapes and have a timeless design, which might explain why they are always in demand.
The versatility of these sunglasses is exceptional. At the hands of a designer like Ann Demeulemeester, they adopt a delicate and refined form. On the other hand, they can transform into fun, wild and eccentric designs, exemplified by the creative brilliance of Jeremy Scott.
Aviator sunglasses originated as military gear crafted to protect pilots from the sun's glare. With this association, they evolved into symbols of heroism and power, and the distinctive teardrop-shaped frame became a favourite among trendsetting men in the 1960s.
Another surge in their popularity occurred in the 1980s, courtesy of the blockbuster movie 'Top Gun’. Aviators were the sunglasses of choice for the film’s protagonist and were once again a symbol of adventure, charisma and undeniable cool.
Today, aviator sunglasses remain a fashion staple. Their practical design and effortless cool make them ideal for throwing on with any outfit. While Ray-Ban is the quintessential brand associated with this look, other notable names like Karl Lagerfeld and Kris Van Assche have also interpreted this iconic style.
Exaggerated, oversized sunglasses were a hallmark of the 1970s. This bold design mirrored the era's fascination with all things futuristic and space-age. Sporting square, earthy-toned frames and distinctive amber-tinted lenses, these shades offered maximum UV protection and lent an air of privacy and mystique. They have safely solidified their place in fashion history and continue to crop up in ever-evolving trends.
If you’re hunting down classic 70s eyewear, fashion giants such as Gucci and Oscar De La Renta are an excellent place to start. They offer traditional retro designs that evoke the era, as well as contemporary interpretations that play with different shapes and colours.
Advances in lens technology enabled the creation of 'shield sunglasses'. These innovative shades have a single, curved lens that wraps around, offering a sporty and practical design that delivers maximum sun protection.
Although this style took off in the 80s and 90s with brands such as Oakley and Nike, these sunglasses have experienced a recent resurgence, coinciding with the current revival of Y2K fashion.
Designers like Ralph Lauren have embraced tinted, larger-than-life lenses that omit the bridge of the sunglasses, giving a futuristic flair. Meanwhile, brands such as Carrera opt for a sporty, goggle-like appearance, representing the continuing fusion of fashion and function.
Shop Vintage and Retro Sunglasses
At GR8, our eyewear collection is a treasure trove of classic designs. Feel free to take inspiration from the eras mentioned or explore our best sellers to uncover an option that resonates with your unique style.
If you're hunting down a specific style or need expert guidance in your eyewear selection, please don't hesitate to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to unite you with the perfect pair!