WOOD WEEK CONTINUES!!!
As we trek ever deeper into the beautiful world of naturally beautiful odds and ends, I’d like to start with something familiar… Sunglasses.
Plastic is lifeless. It’s plain, it’s chemical, and it’s made by a machine. Why would you let it live on your face all day? If I asked you to let other strange combinations of chemicals and colorings hover over your eyeballs all day would you allow it? Of course not, you’re obviously a reasonable person seeing as you take the time to read my lovely reviews on this site. So now that we’ve established that there’s a problem to solve, let’s fix it quickly. A few select companies that I’ll feature here today have used various types of woods to craft versions of some iconic sunglasses styles and even a couple not so familiar innovative shapes of their own. Some are so well polished and cleanly shaped that you wouldn’t know they were made of wood unless you were inspecting them closely. Others don’t hide the fact that they are taken from nature and allow a few rough edges and unique characteristics that allow you to celebrate the differences.
Click here to see the full video slideshow of the glasses featured below. If you’d like to skip to your favorite pair, the timestamp of when that pair is featured is shown next to the corresponding link below.
“Robinson – Black” by Panda Sunglasses $120 0:14min
Every pair of Panda’s frames purchased gives the gift of vision through a partnership with the Tribal Outreach Medical Assistance Foundation or TOMA. As a result, when Panda grows as a company so does The TOMA Foundation. A group of once faded college friendships came back together to form Panda in early 2012. They decided to combine their varied backgrounds to “fill a void in conscious capitalism” The DC based company used a jolt of funding from a highly successful kickstarter campaign to fulfill their initial vision. Panda uses sustainable bamboo in the construction of their frames and each pair you buy guarantees a free eye exam and eye wear to a person in need through TOMA. This is the real deal folks. When I initially contacted Panda, the team had just returned from a trip to Colombia to do good deeds in the name of all their happy customers. The Robinsons are gorgeously polished. The rich dark stained bamboo feels more like walnut and is plenty elegant. They use TAC polarized lenses that offer 100% UVA/UVB protection. An added benefit of lightweight wooden construction… these will float on water. You’ll be happy to see them arrive in a very generous included bamboo cylindrical case to protect your investment. Be aware that Panda offers a wide array of styles and these are specifically recommended for thin or narrow faces and are “not ideal” for wider or rounder faces. Your results may vary though based on what gets you going in terms of style.
“Ontario Lacewood Polarized” by Proof Eyewear $125 1:24min
Proof is another company that has some morality swirled into it’s design philosophy. They only use wood from sustainable or managed sources which means they’ve pledged to never use an endangered wood species in a Proof product. In addition, a portion of each sale (amount not specified) goes to “non profit charities that Proof believes in” They go on to specifically mention “nonprofits in India that provide sight giving surgeries to people with cataracts.” Recently featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” the three Dame brothers started Proof in their garage. Shark Tank called Proof a, “…clearly unique Brand that has a lot of potential” I decided to feature the Ontario Model specifically because it was one of Proof’s initial successes on Kickstarter. The other being a very minimalist wooden front pocket wallet using a recycled bike tire tube to secure it. The Ontario are modeled after the iconic Wayfarer model from Ray-ban and many others. They feature stainless steel spring loaded hinges, 100% UVA/UVB protection and lightweight plastic lenses. The Ontario are available in the full array of available wooden finishes. Ebony in polarized or fire lenses, Mahogany, Lacewood (featured here), bamboo with gray or “kush” lenses. You’ll also find various skate style Ontario frames as Proof has recently expanded to include an entire line of glasses featuring recycled Canadian maple skateboard decks. Proof isn’t happy to end things on sunglasses success though, they feature many prescription ready models that you’d take to your local Optometrist to get filled with the lenses of your choice. The nicest among them in my opinion is the extremely Eco friendly Loom Black Polarized, coming up next…
“Loom Black Polarized” by Proof Eyewear $115 2:42min
The Loom style is a familiar unisex thick frame rectangular black plastic that has come to neatly define a group called hipsters. While my pants aren’t particularly tight and I don’t wear vests with abandon, I do prescribe to this type of frame for my everyday eyeglasses. If you noticed the pun, the Loom are prescription ready. The frame size is 51-19-150 and these can be taken anywhere local to be fitted with your prescription lenses. At a glance they won’t look out of place in a Brooklyn flea market crowd. While they might appear outwardly mild mannered, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that these are so much more than they seem. To start, the frames are carefully hand crafted through a 15-step assembly process. The plastic looking front frames are actually made of 100% renewable and biodegradable plant based acetate. While most frames you’ll see or wear are made of processed oil, the entire ECO collection including the Loom are made using cellulose from plants like cotton. Proof specifically worked with their Italian supplier to find the right formula that looks great, last through a lifetime of use, and leaves a light touch on the environment. The arms use some of the same sustainable wood that Proof proudly features in the all wood models. The arms are finished with raised recycled metal proof logos. The inside of the frame holds one more surprise pop that’s just for you. Make sure you check out the slideshow to see just what’s waiting for you inside.
“Bamboo Skate Shades” by Second Shot and BotanyCo. Eyewear $189.99 3:43min
Through a collaboration, Second Shot (recycled skateboards) and BotanyCo. (Bamboo sunglasses) birthed the bamboo skate shades. While the compressed skateboards weren’t strong enough to be made into sunglasses individually, when combined with the strength of bamboo they are “almost indestructible” The amazing thing about this Etsy find is how unique each pair is. While wood grain is timeless and certainly beautiful, the color combinations and obviously recycled aspect of these shades might catch some people’s eyes over the traditional finishes featured above. The skateboard accents are attached and finished by hand which makes no two pairs the same. You’ll pay a slight premium for the privilege, but these are definitely wearable works of art. They have many different styles currently featured so make sure to check out the Second Shot Etsy store after you watch the slideshow to see the frames that I’ve received.
A quick issue to mention: All of the other glasses featured here were shipped in well made protective boxes. Most of the boxes were made of wood themselves in fact. These shades arrived in a nice pouch with a skateboard cross section as an accent piece but it was clumsily placed in a thin cardboard box that was nearly crushed during shipping. In turn the glasses themselves were in danger of being destroyed. I’ve reached out to Second Shot, but I’ve yet to receive a response explaining the shipping and packaging choices. Be aware if you decide you need this pair. Contact the seller and make them promise decent packaging and shipping before you’ll do business with them.
“Alpha” by Grein Optics $240 4:47min
To finish, I’ve saved the top of the price range and arguably the most feature rich pair of the bunch. The ergonomically fit Alphas are made from renewable and very sustainable bamboo. They feature in-laid African Ebony graphics and are sealed with Pharaoh seal, an Eco-friendly wax/sealer that coats the bamboo during a custom hot dip process. The beeswax based sealant prevents the bamboo from drying out with time and protects the frame itself from the same damaging UV rays that lenses protect your eyes from. Finally, a Carl Zeiss TAC lens gives high definition polarization to the Alphas. A little more on TAC lenses from Grein themselves:
“What is a TAC lens? A TAC lens is made up of three lenses laminated together, but are remarkably half as thick as standard poly-carb polarized lenses. Also, TAC lens contains less impurities than poly-carb lenses, which ensures clearer and crisper visibility, as well as being more scratch resistant. Since this lens is thinner it provides a lightweight feel that is essential not only for the performance of the glasses, but also gives us the ability to design streamline glasses that are fashion forward.”
The price tag is not for the faint of heart as it literally doubles the price of most other frames featured here today. If you can afford the best though, these lenses speak for themselves.
Thank you again to the companies mentioned here for supplying their products for review.
If you haven’t already, click here to see a video slideshow of the whole lot!
HAPPY WOOD WEEK!
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!