In New York this fall, fashion-conscious women have been heading to their opticians in droves, aviator sunglasses in hand — requesting that their tinted lenses be replaced with clear prescriptions.
The striking look caught the eye of Hesperios sales director Miranda Levitt — who recently modeled for the downtown brand Rachel Comey in the new shape, hers Gucci.
“I had had the same glasses for a long time, they were Moscot and everyone had them so I didn’t feel like they were unique when I wore them,” Levitt said of what prompted the change-up.
“I wanted something totally opposite and saw that Gucci did a runway collection where all the girls wore giant aviator reading glasses — I saw a girl wearing them on Instagram and had to get them.”
Gucci had sold out of its optical style, leading Levitt to purchase the oversize sunglass model instead. “I have seen four girls in Paris with them at fashion parties,” she said, while in France for the fashion market season.
While purchasing new, trend-driven eyeglasses may appear a costly expenditure at face value, New York consumers have recently been known to flock to Chinatown’s Optical 88 as an affordable option. The Mott Street store — proximal to downtown eateries like Dimes and Kiki’s — fills basic prescriptions for as little as $35, incentivizing style-hawkers to update their look at whim.
According to Luxottica North American wholesale president Fabrizio Uguzzoni, the aviator-as-optical trend has been picking up steam for the last year. While Ray-Ban introduced an optical-specific aviator style in 2013, the design’s sales perked up rather recently — with the brand’s optical category increasing by double digits in the last 12 months.
“I think it’s popular because it’s a style that blurs gender lines, which we see a lot of in fashion right now,” said Uguzzoni.
He explained that a pattern has emerged where a sunglass design’s popularity yields an uptick in similarly shaped optical styles. “We see people wanting to match sun designs and optical — typically we focus on [developing] sun designs and anticipate the optical [will come later],” he said, referencing the Wayfarer and Clubmaster styles’ trajectories as examples.
“I think that’s the cool thing to do,” Levitt said of switching sunglass lenses for optical, creating an individualized look. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something unique, that’s silly and fun at the same time.”