SS24 Sunglasses Retail Buyer’s Guide

The sunglasses business keeps growing amidst market challenges. Sustainable materials and lens technology drive sales to customers conscious of both their eyes’ and the planet’s health. By Rocio Enriquez.

Despite bad weather adding to the existing challenges of the sports retail environment, sunglasses sales kept growing in 2023, albeit at a modest pace. The main drivers for this growth were sustainability and performance, with recycled plastics and other sustainable materials persuading customersto buy. The demand for technical frames and lenses has expanded from sports styles to everyday lifestyle designs. Large shields and speed shapes in full, half, or no rim presentations are a strong trend.

Frames are getting chunkier, paired with bold colours, for an added fashion statement. Retro inspiration stays strong. Wrapped rectangles, panoramic, geometric, oversized, and side cups throw us back to the sports scene of the turn of the century. These looks need to be paired with high performance features in both frames and lenses. Good ventilation, lens polarisation and photochromy are a minimum requirement. Any added innovation in performance seals the deal.

2024 Frames

This year we find many new shields and wraparounds with Oakley and Zeal introducing a few. Dragon presents the new shield Momentum H2O and a new semi-wrapped shape called Calypso. Quiklsilver’s Fishy is a new wrapped rectangular shape in their retro Mercury Collection.

Other retro additions are square and round styles, Zeal has launched a couple of these. Otis is doing well with their Divide square style and their two cat eye variations, Audrey and Selena. Wave Hawaii redesigns classic square, panto, and Wayfarer shapes, “A little retro with modern parts makes for a good mix”, says CEO Carsten Raphael. Eyeking has launched the new square lifestyle frame Blockhead.

Some new performance styles are launching this Spring. Glacier’s Pierredar is a sleek high-performance mountain style featuring a recycled stainless-steel frame. Red Bull Spect has developed two new sporty models, Chop and Chase. Loubsol’s Onyx is a smaller version of their classic Daccan, a versatile sport/lifestyle frame, they also introduce two new kids’ speed shapes. Amongst Hilx new launches, we find the sports performance GladiatorTM. Izipizi announces a new frame for water sports activities for the end of the year. Melon has a new performance shape dropping in May. Panda sticks to their sports models Multi Sport and Fixed Sports.  

More new frame shapes drop in 2024. Sunski releases the Vallarta and the Estero. Spektrum adds three new styles. “Rista, Gausta, and Kesu are all produced of bio-based material but offered at a lower price”, says Anders. Neuman.CHPO adds eight new models. Hilx includes in their launches the Savage 2.0 and the Nomad Green Series, with a bio-based frame. Aphex’s new four styles for this year, the IX, Dune, Leo and Lyra, are bio-based. “The Dune is a classic design with side caps for extra protection”, describes the brand’s distributor, Bert den Boer.

Von Zipper presents 2 new acetate frames and four new injected styles. Eyeking launches a new sleek fashion piece called Cortez. Roxy adds five new fashion styles in bio-acetate: one cateye, one oversized geometric, and three rectangular shapes. Knockaround will add four frames later this year, to join the three new frames already launched. Adidas’ collection covers from bi-ocular sunglasses to rimless, full-rim, and half-rim masks.

Some existing shapes are refreshed with new colours. Volcomintroduces four new colours: the patterned Asphalt Beach and Purple Paradise, and two translucent ones. Translucent colours have done well for Otis, like their Eco Crystal Foliage and the Eco Crustal Velvet. Electric introduces nine new tones. Zeal has a new tortoise frame with fun pops of colour.

Dragon has introduced some crystal colourations and is expanding the Athlete Signature Series. CHPO has added seven new colours to the line. Loubsol brings in more paint splatters and soft colours such as lilac and sage. Smith proposes muted greens, chalk rose, mustard yellows and teals, “Our new colours are reminiscent of desert/nature scapes“, says Allie Flake. They also introduce a marble texture and some fun retro bright colours. Knockaround, Moken and Sunski announce new colours too.

2024 Lenses

Premium lenses with innovative technology are popular, evidencing a heightened sensitivity to eye health. Polarisation ranks high in lens choice. Photochromy, contrast enhancing, and performance coatings sell very well.

Aphex offers polarised lenses on all their models, adding a Q-View high contrast extra lens in their IQ 2.0 shield style. Dragon offers their exclusive Lumalens technology that increases depth perception, “We offer Performance Polarised lenses within the new SS24 H2O collection”, says EMEA Brand Manager Sam Nelson.

Eyeking’s sunglasses come equipped with injected polycarbonate or nylon HydroCleanTM360º polarised lenses which enhance optical clarity.  Their dual coated layers repel water, prevent sweat and sunscreen from building up, and are easy to clean. Moken’s Line Tracker technology consists of a polarised pink lens with a unique chromic colour balance. Zeal works with their plant based Ellume polarised lenses.

Their Auto Sun lens that combines photochromy and polarisation for mountain bikers or kiters is popular. Otis’ L.I.T. Polar lens is growing close in popularity to their top selling polarised lenses. Hilx offers the photochromic XVIZTM lens and spherical lenses with H2OFF antiglare and triple scratch resistant coating. Knockaround launched their Knockterra+TM sport lens. It is water and oil resistant, as well as FDA approved for impact resistance.

Oakley relies on their Prizm Tens Technology engineered to enhance colour and contrast. Other proprietary photochromic technologies are Loubsol’s Apex, Red Bull Spect’s ChromX, and Smith’s ChromaPop. The latter is introducing the ChromaPop Glass Polarised Polarchromic lens in their popular Guide’s Choice and new Hookset frames. Wave Hawaii and Adidas use performance coatings to reduce stress from dust, water, oils, or scratches.

Sunski introduces the new lens Helio for their Alpine frames. CHPO also offers contrast enhancing capabilities on their sports segment. For the fashion styles, they use see-through and tinted lenses. Glacier and Spektrum rely on the savoir-faire of Zeiss to produce sharp lenses that improve contrast, comfort, and visibility. Spektrum’s Lom shield style with Zeiss photochromic lens is the brand’s best seller.

Mirrors seem to be quite in vogue. New renditions are Hilx’sphotochromic red mirror, Loubsol’s light blue mirrors and Smith’s polarchromic yellow/blue and green/brown mirrors. Wave Hawaii has also launched a yellow mirror lens. Glacier equips their new model Pierredar with a new category three lens called the Alp mirror.

Zeal’s Ellume polarised has a new interpretation called Phoenix Mirror, a rose base with a bright red mirror. There are new non-reflective colours and tints too. Dragon introduces the Lumalens Purple Ion Polar and the Lumalens Plasma Ion Polar.

Moken imports the Linetrackerglass from their winter collection. This is a retro Inui gradient lens with an innovative horizontal gradient flash treatment.Spektrum also introduces two new gradient colours, Amber Contrast and Amethyst Gradient. Loubsol presents the new Roll with a nice green tint. Smith focuses on low-light tint options. Sunski introduces some low light lens options for the first time. Knockaround announces new colours and tints on their lenses too. Panda keeps their tints fairly neutral, with blues, reds and yellows mostly used.


Recycled plastics and plant-based materials have replaced most oil-based acetate. Many metals are also recycled, and there is a lot of FSC certified wood. But brands know that sustainability does not stop at materials. Reducing carbon emissions is driving many brands to avoid air shipments, this means more planning to ship a good amount of stock by sea. Some move their production closer to their markets.

Quiksilver manufactures in Italy. Glacier’s pieces are handmade in the Alps. Rethinking packaging significantly increases sustainability. All of Smith’s retail boxes are produced from post-consumer recycled cardboard that folds flat for reuse or disposal. The packaging of Otis, Sunski, and Aphex is also entirely plastic free. CHPO makes the pouch of the sunglasses with recycled PET, and their plastic bags are made of corn. Knockaround and Quicksilver use recycled paper.

Supporting existing initiatives is a common practice. Zeal’s annual Shades for Seas campaign cleans 93 square meters of coastline for every pair of sunglasses sold during Earth month in April. Knockaround has partnered with 4Ocean to offset every pound of plastic they use by taking a pound out of the ocean.

CHPO collaborates with CleanHub, who builds waste management infrastructures. Product longevity remains the top sustainable practice. Sunski and Glacier prioritise this over everything else. Glacier’s fractioned designs allow users to replace elements that break down and repair their frames.

Retailer Support

In-store branding is important. Wave Hawaii offers bamboo counter displays. Melon has desktop displays and Iron Maiden POS on hand. Red Bull Spect has developed their ready-to-use Universal Tower. Hilx, Moken, Quiksilver, Roxy, Smith and Sunski all invest in the production of in-store displays. Graphic assets are readily available both for in-store and digital activation.

Hilx creates videos that can easily be shared on social media. Knockaround creates product videos for each SKU. Otis has developed an education clip that can be cut into snippets. Adidas offers visual assets for windows and seasonal advertising material and provide digital assets for a 360 activation of their Hero project. Sunski, CHPO, and Oakley,are very active in creating assets for their stores’ promotional efforts.

Training and B2B experiences are welcome by stores. CHPO has expanded their customer service and marketing teams to offer a better customer experience. Adidas constantly trains their reps, so they can relay the technicalities of their products to retailers. Making the sale experience easier helps. Wave Hawaii does not have MOQs, their sunglasses are available all year round to be ordered at short notice. Glacier commits to never sell below the price indicated on their website.

Aphex takes pride in offering one of the healthiest shop margins. Melon takes back any colours that don’t work for retailers and replaces them with the ones that do. Knockaround applies trans-seasonality to give their sunglasses a longer shelf life. Otis certifies the quality of their products with a lifetime warranty on frames. Such support strategies can make a difference.

The sports market environment may be timid now, and the weather does not always help, but eye health has a premium position in the list of consumers concerns, and they will be looking for the right protection.

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