What on Earth are Acetate Sunglasses?

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You know what plastic sunglasses are. You know what metal sunglasses are. You’ve even got your head around wooden and bamboo ones. But, what on earth are acetate sunglasses?

What are Acetate Sunglasses?

To understand what acetate sunglasses are, we first need to know what acetate is. Well, acetate is a plastic-like material made from natural fibers. Mazzucchelli, an Italian company that is one of the largest manufacturers of acetate for glasses frames, makes its acetate from cellulose powder, a material derived from cotton.

Acetate is light, strong, and easily colored which makes it a fantastic material to be used for sunglasses. It is also flexible and, unlike metal, is warm to touch. The downside is that making acetate frames can be labor-intensive (more on that below) which means they are often priced higher than similar-looking plastic frames made from injection-molding manufacturing techniques.

How are Acetate Frames Made?

Acetate frames are usually cut from large sheets of dyed acetate. Once the acetate sheet has been cut into the desired shape, they are polished to give them the desired look and finish. The final part of the polishing process is often done by hand, as is the assembly of the glasses. Of course, this may vary depending on the brand.

If you want to know more about how acetate frames are made, Warby Parker has produced this nice video guide.

Which Brands Make Acetate Sunglasses?

Most brands at the higher end of the market make acetate frames. As do many of the brands on our list of independent sunglasses manufacturers. In many cases, buying from an independent brand is one of the cheaper ways to get a decent pair of acetate frames.

Here are some of the brands producing acetate frames we love.

Ace & Tate

Ace & Tate

Ace & Tate (get it?) are a relative newcomer to the world of sunglasses. They make acetate sunglasses, as well as bio acetate and metal glasses. It has a good variety of frame shapes ranging from wayfarer styles to triangular upswept styles. Prices for acetate glasses start at £98. The glasses are currently only available in Europe, however, which is a shame for the rest of the world.

Buy Ace & Tat acetate frames at aceandtate.com

Warby Parker

Warby Parker

Those based in the U.S. can try a pair of acetate frames from Warby Parker. The brand has a large variety of classic sunglasses designs starting at $95 t the time of writing. The brand’s acetate frames are hand-polished and come in a variety of fits and lenses.

Buy Warby Parker acetate frames at warbyparker.com

Persol

Persol

Persol has a lot of classic designs, most of which are made from acetate in Italy. The 649 Original is available in an incredible 17 frame and lens color combinations and is a true classic design.

Tom Ford

Tom Ford

At the higher end of the scale, Tom Ford has some truly stand-out acetate frames. The brand makes many classic styles as well as some more adventurous designs. The Christopher sunglasses pictured above are a favorite of ours. The whole collection is well worth a look, even if you don’t have $400+ to splurge on a pair right now.

Buy Tom Ford acetate frames at tomford.com

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