Where to buy sunglasses like aviators, wayfarers, cat eye frames, designer brands and affordable lenses online in Canada.
Sunglasses are the fashion accessory that meets an urgent need (to protect the eyes from sunburn at the end of the afternoon in winter).
It’s also a very accessible product available at all price points: it’s as easy to find a pair on a metal spinner at a gas station as it is to shop a wall of designer options in luxury department stores.
DO ALL SUNGLASSES IN THE WORLD COME FROM THE SAME PLACE?
Sort of, but it’s a bit more complex than that. The Italian conglomerate EssilorLuxottica is the most dominant optical company in the world and holds more than 50% market share in North America; it’s the umbrella owner of major brands, retailers and licensing deals that range from Ray-Ban to Vancouver-based Clearly to Prada. If you’ve owned a pair of sunglasses in your life, chances are Luxottica made them.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO BUYING A GOOD PAIR ONLINE?
There are picture charts with plenty of advice on how to pair a style with a face shape, but throw that (and the gender designations) out the window. Sunglasses should suit individual style preferences and use.
Some key questions to consider before purchase: Are they meant for driving? (If so, polarized lenses help reduce glare and sharpness.) Can the lenses be replaced with corrective lenses if needed? Do you need sunglasses for outdoor activities like hiking or pickleball? (UV protection is important.) Is a designer logo a priority or not so much? What is the budget?
From classic frames, edgy styles and cheap dupes, we’ve rounded up 11 pairs available in Canada right now.
THE ALWAYS COOL AVIATOR
Seen on everyone from Robert Redford to Carrie Bradshaw, aviator sunglasses were invented in the 1930s, popularized in the 1970s, and continue to be a solid, stylish choice that suits everyone. Over the years, brands have embraced the teardrop shape and made changes to frame thickness, color, and lens size.
It’s the original, wireframe style that can’t go wrong and doesn’t pander to fashion trends. Available in various colors at Clearly and Amazon.
ALL BLACK OAKLEY AVIATORS
For those who prefer a black frame but love the teardrop style and brow bar, these Oakley sunglasses combine an aviator shape with a thicker frame and black polarized lenses. Available at Clearly.
AVIATORS TORTOISE-FRAME (FOR LESS)
These tortoise frame aviators have a more geometric lens shape and, at under $30, are a decent dupe for more expensive designer frames. The product description also includes full specs such as deck width (16mm), which is helpful for those looking for a specific size. Available on Amazon.
THE ORIGINAL WAYFARER
In the mid-1950s, a designer at Ray-Ban set out to design a new style of sunglasses that did not use metal (the popular frame at the time). Since then, rectangular Wayfarer frames have been a grown-up style marker that’s cool, but not overly trendy. Over the years, Ray-Ban has extended the Wayfarer to different lenses and sizes. Available at Clearly.
THE POP OF COLOR
For a classic shape with a fun pop of color, these Vogue (collaboration with Ray-Ban) sunglasses are lightweight and youthful. Available at Sunglass Hut.
THE $20 AMAZON DUPE
While sunglasses usually end up getting lost, crashed, dropped, stepped on, or otherwise deemed unusable, these Wayfarer-style frames are under $20, foldable, and lightweight. Available on Amazon.
THE OUTDOOR TYPE
Maui Jim is one of the few independent optical brands in the world (and one of the most successful). Fans of unique style love the quality and patented PolarizedPlus2® lenses which, along with glare, sharpen color and protect against UV rays. Available at Sunglass Hut.
Oakleys is one of the top selling brands in Canada. Designed for a comfortable fit (especially for wider noses), these simple square sunglasses with a matte finish and polarized lenses combine quality and functionality. Available at Clearly.
OVERSIZED DESIGN LENSES
A set of big designer sunglasses is really chic and useful because it instantly adds some polish to an outfit (and covers up tired eyes). The sharp corners and wide band of these Prada acetate frames make them a stylish and comfortable choice. Available in three colors at Sunglass Hut.
For those who want a flashy monogram to go with the flashy price tag, these Gucci glasses (available online only) have a classic oversized round frame and the brand’s signature green and red striped print on the temples. Available at Sunglass Hut.
THE MODERN CAT’S EYE
Cat eyes can be subtle or exaggerated. These chunky frames are a Gen Z take on the cat-eye look that models like Hailey Bieber are popularizing on social media. Available on Amazon.