The Best Clear Frame Sunglasses Brands For Summer 2023
Summer almost demands new sunglasses. Sitting front and centre on your face, your choice of eyewear says a lot about your style – and there is no easier way to individualise your look when your outfit is stripped back to the bare essentials due to the heat.
Our suggestion this season: opt for clear frames. They’re having a real moment right now and bring a fashion-forward twist to any frame shape – whether you prefer aviators, round lenses or something altogether more retro-looking.
Want to get in on the action? Our edit below features Ape’s favourite brands and models, for all budgets.
Copenhagen-based MessyWeekend is Scandinavian brand that’s committed to Danish minimalism and injects a sense of authenticity into everything it produces.
Run by a young international team that has a clear opinion on fashion, this youthful exuberance and finger on the pulse translates to sunglasses that feature fashion-forward silhouettes, vivid coloured lenses and a wealth of acetate frame styles, including a handful of clear options.
The standouts are the Hobbes and Depp models, both of which feature a round, keyhole frame shape and come in range of lens options, from smoky gradients to mirrored and coloured polarised lens.
Simple, direct, inspirational – these are the keywords of Barcelona-based Meller. We’d add that there’s more than a touch of Spanish sunshine in every pair of sunglasses these fashion-obsessed Catalonians offer.
Naturally, given the strength of the Spanish sun, eye health is right up there with on-trend design for the team at Meller, with each pair offering UV400 protection. Highlights of the range include the thick, square-shaped Nabil and round, keyhole Kubu – both of which feature Japanese tac polarized lenses and come in a variety of clear polycarbonate and acetate frames, including some with a hint of colour if you’re looking for something subtly different.
We can imagine wearing these sunglasses to the beach, and then to a Chiringuito bar for tapas. Bliss.
Based between Amsterdam and Madrid, Sample Eyewear is a brand with a true international focus, bringing the best of both cities to its sunglasses designs.
These are premium quality shades, without the retail mark-up. Each and every one of the frames is meticulously made by hand using plant-based cotton acetate sourced from Italy and Japan, while no detail is overlooked: the hinges are Gomotec stainless steel and the lenses are CR39 organic material that offer 100% UV protection.
The Resort Co
The Resort Co’s mission is to produce sustainable resortwear that’s built to last and made without compromise. The Stockholm-based brand is obsessive about the way its sunglasses are crafted, with each pair handmade in Italy by selected artisans using quality Italian acetate.
These are sunglasses that will outlast fleeting trends, ensuring you’ll reach for them summer after summer. You can expect CR39 lenses with 100% UV protection, five-barrel hinges with real steel rivets, a stainless steel core wire for durability and strength, and a carry case for keeping them safe when travelling.
Our favourite models include the Mocambo and Mazzo, both of which feature a flattering round frame shape and would slot seamlessly into your vacation wardrobe.
Sub Sun’s roots are in underground music culture. Founders Tom Leuchars and Bradley Zero are both part of Rhythm Section International, based in vibrant Peckham in south London, and the brand was created as a link between their music and the sunshine it’s best enjoyed in. Basically, there’s a pair for every party.
Sub Sun’s designs are crafted from high-end Mazzucchelli acetate with CR39 UV400 scratch-resistant lenses. Currently there is a single clear frame pair on sale, the SUB003 model, available in two different lens colours. However, they deserve their spot on this list: based on a pair that Samuel L. Jackson famously donned in the late 90s, they come with contrast solid black arms and are as cool as the man himself.
Hollywood is the unofficial global capital of sunglasses. The LA neighbourhood has a well-documented history with shades, to the point of them being something close to uniform for the area’s various A-List inhabitants. This considered, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one of the coolest eyewear brands around calls it home.
Oliver Peoples has been doing its thing since 1987 and is known for its luxury frames and vintage-inspired designs. Highlights this summer include the Bernardo, a clean, flat brown aviator that channels the style icons of the 70s; and the Gregory Peck Sun, which were created with the late actor’s estate and inspired by the shades worn by Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird.
This historic New York brand has been producing spectacles since 1915, making it not just one of the oldest eyewear labels in the world but also one of the oldest local businesses in NYC. Talk about heritage.
Moscot offers one of the most extensive collections of clear frame sunglasses on the market, with every face shape catered for. Key styles to look out for include the Zolman, Yontif and Zev. Hey, if they’re good enough for Johnny Depp, they’re good enough for us.
Ace & Tate
This direct-to-consumer brand was founded by Mark de Lange, with its name a play on the word ‘acetate’ – the lightweight material that clear frame sunglasses are traditionally made from. By cutting out the middleman, Ace & Tate is able to offer stylish, quality frames for less than the ‘big name’ brands, without compromising on the quality.
Each pair of sunglasses is handmade by dedicated manufacturing partners in a process that takes over 100 steps over three months, with this meticulous attention to detail ensuring that each and every frame reaches the customer in perfect condition.
The brand’s clear frames are labelled ‘Fizz’ as they have a champagne tint, making them a subtler alternative to the other options on this list. We particularly like the Pierce (available in large and extra large frames) and Sam designs.