The eyewear industry is rising as steadily as the sun, and it’s clear as day why.
The current generation is dedicated to sharing picture-perfect lives on the Internet, where everyone’s OOTDs must always be on point and travel culture is booming. All of a sudden, sunglasses have become vital – as a fashion accessory and as a necessity during travel and outdoor exploits. In fact, marketing research body Euromonitor has specifically cited “image consciousness of consumers combined with the knowledge provided through social media” as a reason for growth.
Small eyewear brands in particular are having their day in the sun – creating classy designs that rival the appeal of luxury eyewear, offering their goods at a drastically lower price, and turning accessibility into ubiquity. Great eyewear is everywhere now, which is fabulous news as we dive into the summer months and their promise of adventure. Here are four stores that have got your eyes covered this season!
Sunnies’ Darla and Axel
Our first stop is Sunnies, the homegrown brand that irrevocably changed the local eyewear scene. Sunnies opened in 2013, owned by a foursome of creative people and entrepreneurs that included erstwhile It Girl Georgina Wilson. The team recognized the gap between fashionable, good-quality eyewear and affordability, and sought to bridge the distance, one stylish pair of shades at a time. The brand has hundreds of frames to choose from at any given time, but the price point is maintained consistently between P399 to P599.
Sunnies’ signature style is thick, solid plastic rims, often in cat-eye or wing-tipped shapes, as in the Darla and the Dovie. The frames come in bold Pantone colors, animal prints, or clear plastic. On the other side of the spectrum are large wire-rimmed aviators with lenses in a rainbow of colors, just like the Dom and the Axel.
Constantly evolving to meet the Philippine and global markets’ tastes, the brand strives to achieve a look that’s “trendy and modern but with a touch of vintage.”
This Japanese eyewear retailer first opened its doors in Manila in 2016, and immediately made waves with their emphasis on simplifying getting eyewear and valuing the customer’s time. Owndays is famous for their 20-minute processing time for prescription eyewear and all-in-one-pricing scheme. Plus, all frames at Owndays are displayed in open shelves and transparent drawers, inviting customers to freely try the thousands of pairs available.
Owndays’ sunglasses line is called Zoo, which features trendy designs inspired by plants and animals. Prominent colors in the lot are blacks, browns, yellows – which call to mind desert safaris and savannah beasts. Others are made in greys and blues, reminiscent of the sea and sky. The occasional striking berry colors like pink, red and purple also pop up here and there.
Some frames are named for animals that inspired their shapes or markings, such as the speckled black and yellow Bengal named for the Bengal tiger, and the cat-eye Fennec, named for its similarity to the fennec fox’s pointy ears. Snag sunglasses from Owndays for your next foray into nature and fit right in!
Starfinder’s 11 oC and 28 oC
Starfinder Optical has been in the country for over a decade now, and it’s only gotten even more popular as it slakes the public’s contemporary thirst for anything Korean.
Starfinder carries DOX sunglasses, a Japanese brand of eyewear popular among Korean celebrities. DOX officially describes itself as “mixed metaphor of unique, modern, and chic style”, and that’s not far off the mark. DOX isn’t afraid to dare to be eccentric, with unusual combinations of shape, color, style, and material. Take for example the steampunk appeal of 11oC, with its round, dark gray lenses and thick, silver full rims decorated with engravings and tiny knobs. Or the high-contrast look of 28oC, with a strong, boxy black frame and stark white legs.
The DOX catalog is filled with statement pieces embodying the unapologetic East Asian style that we all wish we could cop. If you’re looking to plunge into being unabashedly extra this summer, a bold pair of DOX shades from Starfinder is a good place to start!
Panda’s Wesli and Monroe
Panda’s bamboo sunglasses have been around for a while. The brand was founded by travelers who believed ecological sustainability doesn’t have to be sacrificed for style, and the product was crowdfunded by Kickstarter in 2012. They called it “fashion with a purpose”, forgoing plastic for frames made from the fastest-growing species of plant on Earth, Mosu bamboo.
Panda sunglasses are lightweight, float in water, and are very durable (did you know that bamboo is stronger than steel?) The Panda sunglasses line is a little Spartan, as it sticks to timeless, no-nonsense designs. The frames come in simple round and square styles, in earthy colors ranging from black, dark brown, honey brown, and the classic light brown of natural bamboo. The result is a line of classic shades that nonetheless look striking for their unusual material. You’ll spark a lot of conversations on your next vacation when you rock these on the beach!
Finally, as a fitting follow-through, for every pair of Panda sunglasses sold, a portion of the profits goes to Optometry Giving Sight, an initiative that funds optometry schools and eye clinics worldwide, and keeps the future bright for people in need. □
This article was originally published in The Manila Times on April 7, 2018.