Chunky black eyeglass frames are being edged out by a new wave of streamlined styles with retro appeal.
We could be witnessing the demise of hipster eyewear. You know the kind. They’re black, brown or sometimes tortoise shell. They’re chunky, oversize and made of acetate.
They’re part of a look that, in the past five years, has been worn by everyone from Hollywood’s A-list to the local pharmacist.
But now, like giving up your favorite dive bar that has been invaded by tourists, it’s time to move on. Kendall Jenner, Tracee Ellis Ross and the model Bella Hadid already have. They are just a few tastemakers breathing new life into a classic style of eyeglasses: the aviator.
“Trendsetters now want metal frames again,” says Jordan Silver, an owner of the hip eyewear outfitter Silver Lining Opticians in New York. “They want gold. They want silver. They want flash. Because the chunky, oversize look is everywhere, it’s kind of out.”
Garrett Leight, a Los Angeles eyewear designer, attributes the resurgence of optical aviators to fashion’s current longing for everything Gucci.
“When Alessandro Michele sent an oversize aviator onto the spring 2017 runway, everyone went crazy for it,” Leight says. “He definitely played a role in this style becoming a trend again.”
Neiman Marcus is seeing a 1970s renaissance from footwear to eyewear, with customers shopping for aviators by Tom Ford, Chloé and, of course, Gucci.
“It’s what everyone wants to wear,” says Ken Downing, the fashion director. “There’s a grooviness to it. It harkens back to Bowie and Mick Jagger. And even though it’s oversize, it’s not a heavy frame. It sits well on the face, and it’s flattering.”
Even at Warby Parker, the eyewear company many credit with having put the chunky hipster frame on the map, a round metal style called the Abbott recently became the first metal frame to break the top-10 best-seller list since the company’s 2010 debut. Neil Blumenthal, a founder, attributes the trend to a cultural phenomenon happening not on the runway but in the living room.
“I think part of the aviator returning is a result of old shows from the 1980s and 1990s that we get to watch on Netflix,” he says. “It’s fun to look back at ‘Friends’ episodes and ‘Beverly Hills 90210.’ The eyewear of that time is definitely influencing our designers.”