Lite as Air

Designers have long explored the world of lightweight, breathable fabrics, especially in activewear where bulk is a hindrance that’s frowned upon. Even in haute couture, a whisper of silk or a slip of worsted wool is often used to greater effect and pared down fashion has long been mainstream in ready-to-wear.

What: The bold acetate frame look has been popular for quite a few years now but boy can they get heavy. Luckily, eyewear designers have been experimenting with materials and several have introduced lightweight plastics (often proprietary) that offer the full acetate look without the full acetate weight.

Wear: (Clockwise from top left) The Ogi 4810 for men is made of the company’s innovative Innotec material (formerly Evo-Tec, more about that on Page 40), a combination of materials including ultem, TR-90 and surgical plastic, paired with thin metal temples, and provides a featherweight front guaranteed not to put pressure on the wearer’s bridge. The Sama Eyewear’s Caroline frame for women features a titanium core structure sheathed in the thinnest of acetates to offer a bolder, more dimensional cat eye look without the weight of a full zyl frame. Modo’s Eco Born Biobased Wheaton frame is not only environmentally-friendly, thanks to its 63 percent castor seed construction, but a wonderful example of the rich colorations—here a perfectly on-trend radiant orchid—now available in lighter weight plastics. The 141 Eyewear Alder frame for men is part of their new Ultem collection, which in addition to extreme lightness, offers strength, flexibility and temperature/chemical resistance for fewer adjustments and a longer-lasting fit (see Page 43 for full Launch story). The Gucci GG1068 from Safilo is made from the company’s proprietary Optyl material, a durable thermosetting plastic that contains no plasticizers which is extremely lightweight and comfortable because it adapts to the wearer’s face, while also being treated with a special surface coating that protects it from corrosion caused by sweat and cosmetics.

Why: Titanium has long been the standard when it comes to lightweight eyewear, and aluminum has allowed for bolder styles in lighter weights, but sometimes you just want the feel, depth of color and warmth of a plastic. That’s where recent advancements in materials have really excelled and now there are many options that offer the look without the heft (and often the weighty price tag) of zyl.