Have you ever noticed how near-on every pair of sunglasses you find for sale is essentially a vintage-reproduction? Of course you have. From conservative sunglasses to the extreme, the pairs most of us buy and see being worn on the streets are reinterpretations of styles from the mid-20th century if not older. What has gone before, it seems, is the most appealing option of all. It’s also one of the few options available to most of us. Walk into your local sunglasses store, which for the majority of Fashionising.com’s readers is probably Sunglass Hut, and you’re confronted with options mainly from one manufacturer. No, not one label – there are plenty of those – but one manufacturer: the majority of the world’s sunglasses are made by Luxottica, a near-on monopoly. Sunglass Hut is itself owned by Luxottica. A monopoly is producing sunglasses and then pretending to give you a choice when you buy them. That doesn’t leave the fashioniser with a lot of diversity, no matter how attractive the logo on the sunglasses’ frame.
Yet diversity used to exist. The styles that are now being reproduced and reinterpreted were once statedly modern if they weren’t outright revolutionary. They were once innovative. Innovation isn’t dead however – you just have to find it. And that’s precisely what I did on a recent fashion tour of Israel. There I discovered PQ Eyewear, a sunglasses brand who (if I can both steal a line from Apple without getting sued and beg that you forgive the pun) see things differently. PQ Eyewear create sunglasses and specs that are at once both modern in their taste and innovative in their creation, utilising technology to ensure that the word ‘classic’ need not apply.
Designed by Ron Arad, the Israeli industrial designer who has collaborated in the fashion space with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Kenzo, much of what goes into PQ Eyewear’s frames is influenced by Arad’s industrial background. You may be familiar with some of the terms that describe the techniques used to craft pairs, but it’s unlikely that you’ve seen them associated with fashion design before now. Each, though, is a part of fashion’s future as it transitions to increasingly become as comfortable with technological design as it is with traditional craftsmanship.
The technological and industrial design groundings of PQ’s designs are realised across all of their frames, but are most apparent in their two foundational designs: the A frame and the Corbs.
PQ Glasses: A Frame sunglasse.
The A Frame solves the age old problem of specs and sunglasses: how do you make ready to wear frames suit any face? The answer is a mixture of adjustable frame and non-traditional hinges. Not your typical adjustable frame where fingers are crossed before metal is bent or acetate heated, but rather the kind where screws are loosened and the whole frame is adjusted to perfectly suit your nose and face shape. That precise level of customisability is complimented by sprung hinges that fit neatly with a given pair of temples. As Ron Arad sums up the design problem, “no two heads or noses are the same”. And having suffered many a headache induced by overly tight sunglasses in my time, that’s a sentiment I can appreciate. The A Frame is used as the basis for many a pair of PQ glasses ranging from the classically styled – that’s my own pair of PQ sunglasses above and below – through to the thoroughly modern (top).
PQ Glasses: A Frame sunglasses.
Though none seem quite as modern as PQ Eyewear’s other innovation: the Corbs. Over a multitude of layers of materials such as acetate and nylon, the Corbs design utilises the technology of the future, 3D printing. It’s unlikely that you own any fashion that’s been 3D printed yet (I have a bespoke ring, but they’re a rarity) but in the future you will. Everything from cars to houses will be 3D printed, and you’ll be able to pirate 3D printed designs in much the same way you can currently pirate movies (if you were that kind of person, tsk). But right now you can buy fashion that benefits from 3D printing in the form of the Corbs glasses, their unique construction meaning that you’re buying a pair of glasses that have hinged arms but no discernible parts. There’s another pair of Corbs glasses, the Sintered Corbs, that are created using a technology that compliments 3D printing, selective laser sintering.
PQ Glasses: Corbs sunglasses.
And to think that you opened this article just to read about a pair of glasses. Instead you’ve caught a glimpse of the future of fashion accessories, a future where industrial craftsmanship creates a fashion object of quality. Hand craftsmanship won’t be done away with – for all the technology it uses, each pair of PQ Eyewear glasses are still finished by hand – but nor will we shy away from all that is machine made.
You can browse the PQ Eyewear look book to see more of their current collection.