A Brief History of Bug Eye Sunglasses


Kurt Cobain from rock band Nirvana, photo: Jesse Frohman

Bug eye glasses and sunglasses, sometimes known as goggle-eye glasses, have a distinctive design that features large, rounded and curved lenses that cover your eyes completely. They first gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in various circles of fashion-forward youth and have remerged in one guise or another in every decade since.

The design of bug eye sunglasses was influenced by the emergence of new materials and manufacturing techniques that allowed for larger and more complex lens shapes. The lenses were typically made of shatterproof materials which made them ideal for outdoor activities and sports but were soon appropriated into the fashion lexicon.

During the 1990s, bug eye sunglasses were commonly associated with the grunge and alternative subcultures. Musicians such as Iggy Pop and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana were often seen sporting these sunglasses, contributing hugely to their rise in popularity.

Right: Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop during Iggy Pop File Photo at Chasen’s Restaurant in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage), Left: Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, portrait during an interview in Roppongi Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, 18th February 1992. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Overall, the 1990s marked a significant moment in the history of bug eye sunglasses.

During that decade especially, the rave scene was characterized by its bright and colourful fashion, which often included oversized clothing and accessories. One of the most iconic accessories of the rave era were bug eye glasses and/or sunglasses, which were worn by ravers as a symbol of their individuality and love for the music – and for some other slightly more practical reasons.

In the years since, bug eye sunglasses have continued to evolve and adapt to changing fashion trends but their wraparound design still serves a practical purpose too, providing better coverage and protection from the sun’s glare.

Frames in this style are just as ideal for people with outdoorsy lifestyles as those on their way back from the afterparty as the sun starts to rise.

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