Wraparound sports sunglasses have emerged as the hottest accessory of the season. It’s been a slow but steady ascent to popularity. Cool girls have been wearing them for a while (see: Barbie Ferreira and her long-term girlfriend Elle Puckett sporting them back in 2019). But now, they’re being sported everywhere, from the fields of Glastonbury to the streets of Pride, on one end of the influencer spectrum (Kim and Kendall) to the other (Namis Laura Bettina, Lotta Volkova and Lois Saunders).
The appetite for the trend is so huge that Google searches for “sports sunglasses” and “rave sunglasses” are at their highest since 2013, and various low-high iterations are being peddled by the likes of Gucci, Mountain Warehouse, Balenciaga and Motel Rocks.
Meanwhile on TikTok, ever-savvy users have been going crazy over a pair of cheap Amazon shades, which happen to be a bonafide dupe of the Marine Serre x Gentle Monster 2021 collab. Those exact sunnies are sold out, but there are loads of similar styles on the site, like these. (That’s not to say that we endorse the Bezos empire – there are a masses of secondhand styles around, too, so cop yourself a deadstock pair for the same price.)
Beloved by middle-aged cyclists, influencer girlies and arty kids alike, shiny wraparound shades are an unlikely accessory of the people. A sunglasses trend hasn’t been so universally embraced since the days of Ray-Ban Wayfarers and the Big Indie Moment of the mid-to-late ’00s.
So, what makes wraparounds so irresistible? Well, they’re part-futuristic, part gorpcore, a heady mix of maximalism and functionality, and, above all, quite fun. For the dads among us, they’re the pinnacle of practicality. For the rest, they feel fitting for our summer mood: a little bit frivolous and seriously, desperately, ready to party.
Like so many of the weirdest current trend throwbacks (skirts over trousers, anyone?), we have the 1990s to thank – the decade that just won’t let up in its endless recycling of trends. First designed for sporty types by eyewear pioneers Oakley, it was ’90s acid house ravers who adopted and popularised the style back in the day.
Ravewear has a long tradition of reappropriating the super-practical, like boiler suits, army-wear and mega baggy trousers. Wraparound shades are just another lucky victim. Partygoers took their original practical usage (protecting eyes against dust, bugs, sunshine and the like) and subverted it for alternative means: blocking out strobe lights and hiding tell-all party-eyes. Nothing says you’re committed to a long shift on the ravefloor like super-sporty shades. It’s giving dress for battle.
Back to 2022 and it looks like ravers of today agree. Wraparound sunnies are the stars of the show in one TikTok trend, where clubgoers film various punters wearing the same pair of shades. After two years of Covid, the simple act of passing a pair of ugly plastic shades around a sweaty dancefloor feels like a beautiful thing.
That’s not to say the post-pandemic vibes aren’t still very much apocalyptic. Whilst we all contemplate what our futures in this hellscape could look like, it feels apt that we should wear eyewear fit for a sci-fi novel.
If you want a chic look, go for Matrix-style black versions. Feeling maximalist? Go for multi-coloured polarisation. Or, if you’re feeling a bit Y2K, you can channel Brad Pitt’s iconic silver rimmed versions (this eBay pair make for a pretty good dupe).
At this point, anything goes. All that matters is that they’re ugly as hell and would look just as at home on you as they would on your fishing-obsessed uncle. After all, these are sunglasses built on two core principles: maximum silliness and the ability to endure whatever summer throws at us, whether that be the end of the world, or simply a few too many parties.