Not all men’s eyewear is created equal. In the hotly contested world of rakish goggles for guys, there’s no shortage of choices when it comes to the quintessential list of sunglasses, specs or clips. Finding the best pair to suit your face could therefore be considered a form of ancient rocket science. Okay, maybe not – it’s probably more a case of “Where the f*ck do I even start?”
You start where the sun shines the brightest all year around – Australia. Besides the usual jaunt of drop bears and isolation from the rest of the world, the land Down Under has served up some of the decade’s most sought after eyewear.
With one eye fixated on the fashion circuit whilst the other keeps track of the latest summer trends, these are the finest eyewear brands you had no idea were Australian.
For a long time many have thought Le Specs to be a French brand (since anything with ‘Le’ in front of it is considered French chic). That’s only half the story. Founded by French expats in Australia way back in 1979, Le Specs made huge waves back in the day for its signature silhouettes and attention-grabbing mirrored lenses.
As such, the first pair of sunnies by Le Specs exuded a perfect balance of timeless European styling with Australian summer vibes. The brand did go quiet during the 90s but it wasn’t until 2006 when Hamish Tame took over as the brand’s creative director that Le Specs truly forged itself as an international force in the eyewear game.
Today their optical range has graced the fashionable faces of celebrities such as Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. More importantly they have remained rooted in what Australians love about a good pair of glasses: strict testing against the harsh sun at an affordable price.
Ah Bondi, where creative minds come together to dream up the coolest items in contemporary Australian fashion. Bailey Nelson was founded in the iconic beach suburb in 2012 and has quickly spread its reach into London, Canada and New Zealand. Craft eyewear that is both beautiful and affordable is the name of the game here with an extensive selection of frames for men who aren’t just after a pair of throw-around beach sunnies.
Taking the old school route to the Australian eyewear scene is the crew at AM Eyewear. The brand was founded in 2003 with a passion for the aforementioned style of glasses which were often hard to come by locally. What began as a cheeky upstart to fill this niche quickly grew into one of the most respected eyewear brands in the world. Their range follows a simple code of conduct: Create beautiful and unique eyewear by hand that exudes pure quality.
Building this reputation involves designing eyewear with a sketchpad and pencil before the finalised frames are cut from a sheet of Italian Mazzucchelli acetate. From here they are handcrafted and polished by a master artisan via a 14 hour process. The guys here have even managed to become one of only a handful of brands to wear the exclusive co-branding agreement with Zeiss to ensure that their lens quality is always on point. The result is one of the most exquisitely crafted glasses you could ever wrap around your face.
“Colab is not just eyewear, its art for your face.”
And with that, Colab sprung to life and has proven itself to be one of Australia’s most creative and innovative eyewear brands. What’s special about their eyewear is the unorthodox approach to design which involves heading to an obscure location for inspiration before coming back home with a finalised design ready to be made. Making it even more sought-after is the fact that they’ll only release 1,000 pieces of each design for the world to ensure that yours always remains unique. Their handmade glasses have seen the faces of respected figures from the street artist scene to graphic designers and musicians and are created by artists for the cool kids.
Another Bondi Beach entrant comes in the form of Local Supply. These guys are focused on providing a decent pair of glasses at a price tag that won’t have you eating cereal for dinner for a month. Their specialty is eyewear which is stylish, strong and lightweight and can bear the hard knocks of any adventure. All of their frames come with polarised lenses as standard.
The Bondi eyewear maestros continue to roll in with Pacifico Optical taking the mantle for providing quality goggles for purveyors of the classic look. Founded by two friends on a sunny summer afternoon on Ben Buckler Point in North Bondi, Pacifico Optical quickly realised that many other brands were offering premium eyewear at a premium price tag.
Being the savvy Australians that they were, the duo seized the opportunity to create their own eyewear which incorporated the highest standards of materials at a price that didn’t break the bank. We’re talking frames crafted from Italian designed Mazzuchelli cellulose acetate and hinges sourced Italian manufacturer Visottica or German manufacturer Comotec. They don’t cheap out on lenses either which wears the Carl Zeiss moniker.
South Cali Sunnies
South Cali is all about bringing the iconic design aesthetic of Souther California (Santa Barbara to San Diego) to the streets of Australia. It all started with an obsession with the Californian summer from the waves to the palm trees to a winding coastline which met with the warm desert mountains. Today that very company based in Melbourne ships some of the freshest eyewear around the world. Their products feature polarised and UV-400 rated designs along with fashionable silhouettes by places such as Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. Each model is so distinct that it’s actually named after these beaches. Gnarly, dude.
Chronicles Of Never
The renowned Australian fashion label known as Chronicles of Never has been a serious player amongst the fashion circles. Although it wasn’t until founder and designer Gareth Moody enlisted Australia’s Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns to help create a limited edition eyewear collection that the brand really broke into Australia’s premium eyewear scene.
The partnership ensured that the collaboration would conceive some of the coolest and most contemporary monochromatic styles men could get their hands on. The capsule collection features sleek frames handcrafted in Japan out of quality titanium and high-grade cotton-based Japanese acetate. Only four colours are made available in black, silver, tortoise and crystal. The styles meanwhile are broad but distinct in its design approach, taking inspiration from the classic rockstar right through to the classic wayfarer.