When menswear commentators espouse the credentials of sunglasses being the most capable accessory in terms of being an imperative instrument of practicality, and a dynamic source of cool, they would be right. It wasn’t always that way though. The swagger they emit as a fashion accessory came much later in their timeline. Emperor Nero looked through flat polished gems to reduce sun glare when watching gladiators fight in the Colosseum; Inuit tribesman fashioned slitted masks, this time to reduce snow glare, whilst other early adopters included Chinese judges who wore panes made of smoky quartz to conceal their emotions when interrogating witnesses in court. Sunglasses of hoary antiquity, they’re nevertheless the seeds of modern-day sunglasses history.
Fast-forward to the 1930s, tinted lenses were donned by the greats of the silver screen to combat the bright lights of movie sets and camera flashes. In doing so, the tinted lenses suddenly elevated the status of sunglasses as not only a functional instrument, but a voguish fashion accessory. Movie stars saw them as a vital tool in disguising and protecting physical health ailments, whilst Al Pacino’s excuse was more psychological; remarkably the star of The Godfather and its sequels admitted wearing them because he was shy. Their power to elevate your appearance cannot be overstated, whilst shades in different forms and shapes have played a pivotal role in helping to define different subcultures.