RAEN Optics, a company known since its inception as a purveyor of handmade, heartfelt sunglasses, launches three new frames this week, including its first women's-specific offerings. The new Nera is a unisex frame, while the Asper and Pogue are more squarely in the women's market. All three are the company's most sophisticated offerings to date.
"RAEN has always been known for quality materials and that handmade feel," explains Brand Manager and Designer Jordan W. Percy, "but these three frames represent our first mixed metal/acetate offerings. And, like all of our frames, the Nera, Asper and Pogue aren't just the same old shapes being popped out by every other company... We're really proud of the final result."
The process of adding alloy to what has been an all acetate collection up to now is more involved, but RAEN is as emphatic about quality as ever. RAEN uses only lenses made by Optics by Carl Zeiss Vision and every detail from the hinges to the case has been carefully considered.
"They're still handmade -- just like the entire collection," says Percy. "There's no moulding going on... It's still all hand-cut, hand-formed, hand-finished acetate and that brings a tactile sense of quality that you can feel."
The Nera, MSRP $155-180, is the unisex frame and anchors the collection. The style is also a collab with surfer, photographer and all-around creative powerhouse Warren Smith, known for his singular blog, proxynoise.com.
The Nera in Matte Black/Brindle Tortoise (shown) stands out as particularly striking and the frame also comes in a cool Ivory, a laid-back Black, and a Brindle Tortoise.
"All of these styles are pulling from the same mid-century design language we've been using to drive the collection all along, but these are the clearest renditions of that inspiration," says Percy of the Nera.
"We're pulling most of our inspiration from late 40s-to-early 50s vintage eyewear -- the same 'vintage' that inspired the 'vintage' from the 80s".
The Asper, MSRP $155-180, is a slightly smaller women's frame. Pulling from the same mid-century flare discussed above, the slight cat-eye is unmistakable. Available in Bengal Tortoise, Black, and Brindle Tortoise, wearers can focus on letting the sweep of the frames do all the talking. The Asper is an instant classic.
The Pogue, MSRP $155-180, is the boldest offering of the three with its strong acetate frame lines and skinny alloy arms. Equal parts praying mantis and Audrey Hepburn, the Pogue in Seaglass cuts quite a figure.
Also available in a no-nonsense Black that accentuates the shape or a Cider Tortoise that brings a pop of colour to the lineup, the Pogue is a frame for women who don't mind being asked "Where'd you get those?!" five times a day.
The new mixed metal/acetate collection from RAEN is available at Treasure & Bond, Thalia, Saturday Surf, American Rag and other retailers or online at raen.com.