The rise of bamboo and wood sunglasses

Wooden sunglasses


We all know that sunglasses not only help protect our eyes, but make a seriously cool fashion statement, too. Tired eyes? Having an ‘ugly’ day? Simply feeling hungover? Just pop on a pair of shades for an instant way to hide a multitude of sins.

We’re all familiar with the plastic and metal frames we’ve been wearing for years, but what about this newer, fresher sunglasses trend we’re hearing about lately? Wooden and bamboo sunglasses have recently emerged as one of the most iconic eyewear trends available. They aren’t what we like to call a ‘classic’ frame style; as we just mentioned, metal and plastic have been the most commonly used material for sunglasses frames for decades.

However, over the past few years, durable timber is being used more often to create high-fashion sunglasses. And not just for their edgy fashion statement. Yes, the wooden handles and frames look sleek and elegant, not to mention unique, but they protect your eyes from UV rays just as well as another other materials.

So with bamboo, ebony, rosewood, pear wood, walnut and zebra wood used more frequently in the design and production of sunglasses, let's take a look into this fashion trend.


13th century: The birth of wooden glasses

The real surprise here is that wooden glasses were actually born in the 13th century. Starting out with spectacles, glassmakers created a rim made from wood mixed with shell, set around two cut-glass lenses, attached with rivets.

1850: Wooden sunglasses arrive

Initially, when sunglasses started being made with darker glass, they were designed just for one eye. It was during the Middle Ages, when wearing glasses suggested wisdom and extensive studies, that sunglasses were put into production more seriously. The 1700s was the century that sunglasses first become properly produced, but were always made from smokey quartz.

It wasn’t until 1850 that sunglasses obtained the shape that we know and recognise today, with pairs starting to be created out of wood, shell and quartz.

1995: Bamboo and wooden sunglasses make their mark

As sunglasses became more developed and advanced from 1920, we saw millions of pairs launch each decade. The dominant styles remained, with nylon, plastic, glass and metal frames, and it was only once the 1990s kicked in that wood and bamboo began being used to create a more stylish approach. These materials have dipped in and out of the style stakes through the years, but they have secured a firm place in the world of sunnies since the Millennium.

How are wood and bamboo sunglasses created?

There is much more thought and creativity that goes into the creation of wooden sunglasses, due to the flexibility of buffing and sanding. The construction involves laser-cutting from planks of wood and bamboo first, which then gets cut and ground to a uniform size.

A buffing wheel is used to sand and buff every piece separately before they are assembled. Laser cutouts of wood are then glued together, layer on layer, to produce wooden frames. Some brands have taken wooden frames to a quirkier level, experimenting with recycled wood from all kinds of objects.

Wooden sunglasses come in various designs, shapes and colours, although the most popular colours tend to be various shades of brown, beige, burgundy and black. These sunglasses are usually more expensive than the conventional plastic, acetate or metal frames, purely because they require more care in the design and production process.

man sunglasses

Why you’re going to love them…

Wooden and bamboo sunglasses saw a spectacular boom from 2010, with Google Trends announcing they saw a huge increase in people searching for ‘wooden glasses’. Since then, they are popping up everywhere – there’s also been a large influx of celebrities sporting them! Beyoncé is one who's been spotting wearing a trusty pair of wooden-rimmed frames.

In today’s sustainability-conscious world, wooden sunglasses are bound to be a continued hit due to them being non-toxic and almost allergy free. No one can argue that as bamboo and wood come from nature, they will go back into nature when they are disposed of. Unlike metal and plastic, wood is much easier to decompose; hence, a popular environmentally-friendly option.

Plus, the timber used to make most sunglass frames is treated to last longer, with solid durability and being able to bear a strong impact or hard fall.

Wooden and bamboo sunglasses are pretty much everything that you could wish for in a pair of sunglasses. They are elegant, lightweight and most importantly, durable – and they're the environment friendly fashion choice. We expect 2019 to be the year they boom in popularity – so keep your eyes open!