Reader Vince recently wrote:
Dude! Sunglasses? Preferably US-made and under $200 (under $100 would be even better).
Dude! Made in USA sunglasses for under $200 right this way…
American Optical has been around for almost 200 years, and have produced in the US that whole time (check out the History page on the co.’s website for the full story). Though they don’t put out nearly as many styles today as they once did, their Original Pilot Sunglasses are still widely available, and, pretty damned affordable. They’re also fully customizable, so you can choose the lens color, frame color, temple style and more. Another AO option are the deadstock Safety Sunglasses at Driftwood boutique in Los Angeles, which not only look great, but are also very reasonably priced.
Like AO, Shuron has also been around since the latter half of the 19th century, and, still manufactures in the US. Though best known for their iconic Ronsir eyeglasses, the company also offers a handful of great sunglass styles including the Wayfarer-esque Sidewinder Sunglasses and Freeway Sunglasses (both of which are sub $100), and the Escapade Sunglasses, which are essentially just Ronsirs with tinted lenses.
Though responsible for some of the ugliest sunglass styles of all time, Oakley – which has always been (mostly) US-made – is also to thank for one of the greatest styles too: The Frogskin. A staple of the 1980s -bum wardrobe (ski-bum, surf-bum, beach-bum, etc.), the glasses are still available today, and come in a slew of different make-ups. You can also custom design a pair too.
The youngest brand on the list, Capital Eyewear offers a range of men’s and women’s sunglasses, all of which are crafted by hand in California. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of wood sunglasses, which make-up about half the brand’s line, but I do like their “eco acetate” models quite a bit. Also, all Capital styles come with high quality Zeiss lenses, which is pretty sweet.
Arguably the brand that’s most synonymous with aviator sunglasses (not only did they produce for the US Military, they also provided all the sunglasses in the movie Top Gun), Randolph Engineering offers a number of variations on the military style, all of which are proudly American-made. These are by far the most expensive on the list, but, that’s only if you buy direct from RE – you can get ‘em for significantly cheaper elsewhere.
Got a question you want answered? Send an email to brad[at]well-spent[dot]com.