Welcome to the ninth installment of Sliding Scale, a series in which we bring you a single product for every budget. This month we’re rounding up responsibly-made Sunglasses. Check out our eleven favorites after the jump.
American Optical has been making sunglasses in the USA for almost 200 years. Their most well known model, the Original Pilot Sunglasses, have steel alloy frames and real glass lenses, and can be purchased for as low as $42. Or, if you prefer more of a wayfarer style, you might want to try hunting down a pair of the brand’s old Safety Glasses. Quality Mending Co. has a great selection of unworn vintage ones, which are priced at $98 a pop. You can also look on eBay where they range from $30 to $100 apiece.
Though 25 years AO’s junior, many consider Randolph Engineering to be the preeminent American aviator manufacturer (due in no small part to the decades they spent making aviator sunglasses for the armed forces). Today, the brand offers a number of variations on the military style, and while they’re usually priced at well over $150, you can currently pick up a pair from Sierra Trading Post for as low as $75.
Washington DC’s Waveborn uses a portion of their profits to help fund sight-restoring surgeries and needed eyecare in underserved communities around the world. Their glasses are handcrafted in Italy and have lightweight cellulose propionate frames. And there are over a dozen styles to choose from, with prices starting at $99.99.
Electric’s sleek, minimalist sunglasses are designed in California and made in Italy. Lots of styles are available, and each comes in an array of colors / materials. Prices start at $100.
Super by RETROSUPERFUTURE
Based and made in Italy, Super by RETROSUPERFUTURE’s designs run the gamut from simple and classic to avant and off the wall. Like the designs, the prices are also all over the place, although some of the more traditional styles can be purchased for as low as $115.
Red’s Outfitters’ sunglasses combine classic American styling with artisanal Italian craftsmanship. The complete range is made in Italy, and prices start at $135.
While all of the other brands on this list make a number of different styles, PANTOS Paris only makes one. It’s designed and crafted in France, comes in a wide assortment of colors, is packaged in a reusable wooden carrying case, and with 20% off for non-EU orders and free international shipping, it costs around $137.
Capital Eyewear’s sunglasses are designed and crafted in California. And while I’m not a fan of wooden sunglasses, which make up about half the brand’s collection, their “eco acetate” models are quite nice. Prices start at $140.
Founded back in 1863, Shuron is one of America’s oldest still-operational eyewear manufacturers. Though best known for their iconic Ronsir eyeglasses, the company also makes great sunglasses too, including the Wayfarer-esque Sidewinders and Freeways, and the Escapades, which are basically just Ronsirs with tinted frames. Prices start at $148.
If you’re after something a bit more colorful, check out the Dutch brand Dick Moby. They have a large assortment of brightly hued, playfully designed styles, all of which are made in Italy using biodegradable acetate, and have five barrel hinges and Carl Zeiss lenses. Prices start at €139 plus €18 international shipping, which converts to roughly $170.
And finally, while there are countless luxury sunglass makers out there (for just a small sampling, check out the sunglasses page on Mr Porter), there’s only one that actually gives something back. For every pair of SHAUNS purchased, a pair of prescription glasses is donated to someone in need in the developing world. The brand’s catalog includes wayfarers, aviators, and more, and everything is made in a family-owned workshop in Belluno, Italy. Price start at $230.
And Just In Case You Were Wondering…
We didn’t include Ray-Ban (mostly made in Italy) and Persol (entirely made in Italy) because we figured you guys have already read / heard enough about them. That said, if those are the brands you’re after, the links in the previous sentence are to the best prices we could find. We also skipped Oakley, even though they manufacture in the US and Italy, because only one of their dozens and dozens of styles isn’t laughably hideous.