Are These the Next Cool Sunglasses?
Fashion Week is back in full force, and there’s a lot to see. Blink (or scroll too fast on Instagram) and you’ll miss the details: tiny bags, tall shoes, feathered hats, leather capes and diamond dog collars. So as part of a new series, Wow Moment, we’ll spotlight things we saw on the runways that delighted or mystified us.
MILAN — “Don’t open the bag,” a disembodied voice scolded, repeatedly, as people filed into Sunnei’s spring show on Friday.
Guests had been handed white cotton drawstring pouches as they moved toward the runway, an all-white tunnel built inside an empty warehouse. Peeking into the bags was not tolerated by the voice, which, it turned out, belonged to the company’s marketing director.
Then just before the show began, and after finallygiving the audience permission to open the pouches to discover a pair of sunglasses inside,the voice scolded again: This show was meant to be experienced while wearing the sunglasses, not while pointing phones at the models.
When an aggressive white light suddenly slammed on overhead, almost everyone followed the first part of her instructions. (The second part? Not so much.)
In short, that’s how you persuade a horde of fashion people — influencers, stylists, buyers, editors, writers, friends of the brand and other assembled enthusiasts — to simultaneously strap on sunglasses resembling stylish ski goggles. When it looked as if some guests were about to yank them off midway through the show, strobe lights dissuaded them.
Sunnei calls the sunglasses Prototipo 3, and every model on the runway was wearing them. They were shown in a variety of colors, including jet black (which the audience wore), dark beige or white with red and blue lenses, like 3-D glasses. The rectangular acrylic frames have stubs, instead of full-length temples, that were attached to adjustable head straps. After the show, Sunnei put some for sale online.
It’s clear that Sunnei’s designers, Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina, believe in the marketability of this product (which they referred to as the “protagonist” of the show). Buzz has been gradually building around Sunnei since its founding as a men’s wear label in 2014, and last year it received a $7 million investment from the fashion group Vanguards.
Sunnei has emerged with a cool, rebellious energy in a city dominated by very old, very stable luxury houses. It has also built a solid following on Instagram, and it’s easy to imagine the Prototipo 3 becoming popular with influencers who gravitate toward the latest street-style eyewear, like racer sunglasses or those teeny Y2K color-tinted frames.
These are sunglasses for people who don’t care about the effortlessness and versatility of, say, Ray-Bans, but do care about being seen — about being ahead of trends and getting attention for it. And you know what? They caught ours.