These Under-the-Radar Sunglasses Brands Make the Affordable Frames You’ve Been Looking For
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It used to be that sunglasses mostly occupied two lanes. Roaring along in one were frames of the super trendy and suspiciously cheap variety (i.e. the kind you’d buy on a whim at a gas station, along with a Slurpee and jumbo-sized bag of ruffle chips.) Carefully navigating the other were options that represented an obvious step up in quality and price—a precarious investment given the statistics on missing eyewear. There’s always been a middle lane, of course, but it tended to be crowded with the usual household names—the Ray-Bans, Oakleys, and Persols of the world. And while there’s nothing wrong with the classics, after enough time they can start to feel a little stale. What, went the common refrain (in the GQ offices, at least), is so hard about making handsome, affordable sunglasses that won’t snap after a few months of use?
Well, thanks to a surge of independent eyewear brands making supremely stylish shades out of materials typically reserved for their pricier competitors, that middle lane is starting to feel a whole lot more crowded. (Traffic: not all bad!) Polarized lenses, premium acetates, and metal wire cores are par for the course—and, mercifully, most of them cost right around $150, sometimes even less. It’s not a small amount of money to forget in the back of an Uber, but it’s small enough to warrant stocking up on a few styles without feeling like you should be buying a quick snack too.
Below are just a few of the middle-lane brands we’re really feeling right now, along with some of the silhouettes they do best. When it comes to sunglasses, it’s officially rush hour.
Akila boasts one of the largest range of sunglasses on the market, from gently-freaked classics to far-out shapes in candy-coated frames. The brand pumps out new styles frequently, many of them in collaboration with other equally hip labels, so you’re never left feeling bored.
The Gen-Z set flocks to Crap Eyewear in droves, enchanted by the brand’s distinct ’90s/Y2k aesthetic. (Jonah Hill is a fan too.) And at under $100, they’re some of the most affordable sunnies on this list.
If you’re looking for sunglasses that wear their retro inspiration lightly, Bonnie Clyde makes options aplenty, each befitting the ’70s-era aesthetic of acts like Silk Sonic or pre-OBE Elton John.
Sun Buddies makes it easy to feel like a celebrity, largely because every pair of sunglasses the brand sells is inspired by an actual A-lister, from Liam Gallagher to Naomi Campbell.
The actor finally acknowledged their recent string of erratic and problematic behavior in a recent statement. By The Editors…