5 Brands of Sunglasses That Give Back and Up Your Frame Game
Shield your baby blues in style with cool-kid shades that are way more than meets the eye. These sunglasses aren’t shady at all when it comes to the core values of integrity, sustainability, and social responsibility. Behind their handsome frames is a range of initiatives that give back — in more ways than one — providing a whole new way of seeing the world with 20/20 vision.
Before we even scratched the surface of Woodzee’s dedication to protecting the environment through the use of natural, renewable resources and nontoxic materials, we were already sold on the impressive collections that include chill wayfarer-style frames made from bamboo and a full set of colorful shades created from re-purposed maple wood skateboard decks.
However, it’s the American-made brand’s new collaboration with Maker’s Mark that really commanded our gaze. You can have your drink and wear it too with these unique, hand-charred sunglasses crafted from the small-batch bourbon whiskey company’s recycled wooden barrels. As if you needed any more reason to order up a pair, Woodzee plants a tree for each and every pair of sunglasses sold. Going against the grain never looked so good.
Creating the change they wanted to see in the world, a passionate group of Australian-based surfers rallied together to launch Grown, a company that designs, produces, and provides original, organic, and sustainable wooden eyewear that not only looks awesome but “does good,” too. You may recognize the company from Shark Tank, where it showed off its socially conscious sunglasses that are handcrafted from ethically sourced, renewable bamboo and hardwoods.
What stands out most about the shades is their unique, one-of-a-kind grain patterns from woods including carved maple, zebrawood, and Pacific ebony. But the real eye-opener is the company’s responsible capitalism. With every item purchased, Grown fully funds sight-restoring eye surgery for one person or diagnostic eye exams for 12 children.
3. Warby Parker
The Warby Parker model is simple — and simply impactful for its domino effect. You buy a pair of glasses; they give a pair to someone in need. Not a bad exchange, especially when their frames are known for being some of the most trendsetting on the block.
Take, for instance, the retro Winston in a ginger lemonade hue that’s the exact fusion of 1960s cool and 21st century bold, and the oversized swagger of the whiskey tortoiseshell Lowrys that ooze pure attitude. Or go classic mod with the angular Halfords, which are inspired by the iconic aviator shades.
The options truly are endless, and with its try-at-home program, you can choose up to five sunglasses to order online and take for a test drive.
4. Parkman Sunglasses
Ever wonder what happens to the leftover wood in the guitar-making process? No, you probably don’t. But Parkman Sunglasses knew exactly what to do with those wood scraps, turning them from trash to treasure in a collaboration with Patterson Guitars. Both Parkman and Patterson share a passion for handcrafted, American-made products so the match was a perfect fit — as are the resulting “Bombay” shades.
Made from the mahogany bodies and rosewood fretboards of the guitars, the frames have the distinct benefit of being both environmentally responsible and naturally beautiful. In the same vein, Parkman has imbued old vinyl records with a bright new tune, re-fashioning them into another version of the “Bombay” model. We’d recommend snagging both pairs so you can channel your inner guitar hero and hipster DJ, depending on which mood may strike.
5. Dick Moby
When surfers Tim Holland and Robbert Wefers-Bettink were angered by the sheer amount of plastic waste floating in the ocean, they decided to take matters into their own hands and find the “sunny side of plastic” with Dick Moby. Indeed, plastic never looked better than in this Amsterdam-based, sustainable sunglasses label that will immediately land you in the street-style club with a single pair of their shades.
The all-black frames are constructed of 97% recycled industrial plastic waste while the colorful bio-acetate versions are the epitome of hipster cool with punchy hues including chalk, forest, peach, and ink. All handmade in Italy, they feature a variety of quirky, retro frame shapes named for and inspired by iconic cities and their airports — think LAX, LHR, ORY, SFO, and more.
In addition to making good use of old plastic, Dick Moby gives 10% of revenues to innovative projects to address plastic pollution in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation and Terra Cycle. Last year, they even also organized 30 beach cleanups and collected more than 5,200 gallons of plastic waste on beaches. We’ll catch that wave any day.