This is the Next Wave of Cool Sunglasses

Up until recently, I never considered myself a “sunglasses person.” I found them to be a nuisance — sliding down my nose, pinching my big-ass head, making everything look dim. I prefer to take in my surroundings with the brightness turned all the way up. I don’t mind squinting a bit.

That all changed last year when Adam Selman collaborated with Le Specs on a small collection of sunglasses combining the long-beloved retro cat-eye silhouette with the futuristic aesthetic of a chic cyborg. They were different in a good way — something Rita Hayworth would have worn if she was born six decades later and had electronic parts instead of human guts.

Kitschy-colorful but graphic and glamorous at the same time, they had the potential to transform an outfit in a way I never gave sunglasses credit for previously. I wasn’t the only one having this revelation, though. As soon as they debuted, they were everywhere.

My guess is that it had been too long since a designer reinvented the sunglass wheel, and the world was hungry for it. Almost as soon as the collection dropped, their edgy, mint chocolate-chip newness was gobbled up and spat out squarely into the vanilla bean center of the zeitgeist.

Other brands quickly caught on, co-opting the design, over-saturating the teensy-tiny-cyborg-cat-eye trend before I could even blink, much less incorporate it into my wardrobe in a way that still felt original. I never bought a pair of Adam Selman x Le Specs. I still love how they look, but they feel too maxed out.

The thing is, having witnessed how sunglasses can take an outfit from meh to YUP, I found myself maniacally determined to find a pair that provided the same kind of dopamine hit. By the time summer rolled around, the pressure was on. I spent the last month searching for contenders.

It wasn’t easy. After Adam Selman x Le Specs, sunglasses had high standards to live up to, but I’m happy to report that I have amassed a mental inventory of various under-the-radar brands with silhouettes and styles that might even surpass them. I also discovered Sunglasscurator, an online retailer for independent designer eyewear that has truly opened up my eyes (pun intended) to a whole new world of sunglass options, including tons of new-to-me emerging designers.

I called in a bunch of my favorite ones (with the help of market guru Elizabeth Tamkin) and Edith shot them on MR pal/model Alisha Bansal. The result? A lookbook of 2017’s coolest sunglasses ready and waiting for your eyeballs in the above slideshow.

Full disclosure: I didn’t end up purchasing any of these, because I randomly came across a vintage Daniel Hechter pair that made my heart palpitate earlier this month at a French flea market. I haven’t taken them off since except to, you know, “sleep” and stuff.

This unexpected development is good news for all of us, though. Now that my sunglass needs are fulfilled, you can freely scoop up one of the other nine pairs I sleuthed out without fear of accidentally twinning with a huge-headed internet weirdo.

Modeled by Alisha Bansal, follow her on Instagram @alisha.b1. Photos by Edith Young.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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