It is time to retire my beloved aviators.
After nearly a decade of wearing the same pair of mirrored Ray-Ban aviators, I decided that 2016 is the year I’m going to buy a replacement pair of eyewear- something that straddles the line between performance and fashion.
Eventually, my quest for the perfect sunglasses narrowed to two pairs of sunglasses- the classic Oakley Frogskin and the Sunski Seacliff. Both offered polarized lenses, were similar in design, and could take me everywhere- from après ski to taking the dog on a hike.
I clearly remember my first pair of Oakleys. The Frogskins had yellow tinted lenses and smoky clear frames. Back in 1990, they were the ultimate status symbol for members of my school track team. The height of cool. The ultimate fashion accessory for an athlete. The secret to winning the 3200… well, not the latter (in my defense, my 14-year-old mind made it so). The point is, like the ubiquitous Umbro soccer shorts, they were nothing short of awesome.
After enjoying years of popularity, the Frogskins disappeared from the scene for several years until they were recently reintroduced to Oakley fans hungry for nostalgia, or perhaps, looking for a replacement for a pair of 20-year-old Frogskins.
Described as “retro square”, the new Frogskins lenses appear more rounded than the originals. The frame itself still the same in that it is virtually break proof. Made of O Matter material, the frames are designed to be impact and stress-resistant, and are so light weight, you almost forget you’re wearing them.
Other features include: a three-point fit that holds lenses in precise optical alignment while eliminating pressure points, and Plutonite® lenses that offer top UV Protection, filtering 100 percent of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400 nm.
The Frogskin retails for $120, comes in a variety of colors, and includes a lens bag.
Started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Seacliff is a relative newcomer to performance eyewear. Like the Oakley Frogskin, the Seacliff is toted as a universal, one-adventure-fits-all eyewear that is equally suitable in the outdoors as it is in urban areas.
The Seacliffs are Sunski’s most lightweight and versatile style, and feature lenses in contemporary colors. Other key features include: polarized grey-tint lenses, certified UVA/B/400 Protection, and Hand-Polished Polycarbonate Frames.
Seacliffs retail for $55. Each pair of Seacliffs come with a lens bag and the purchase goes towards Sunski’s annual donation to 1% for the Planet, a global movement that donates 1% of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide.
Overall, Oakley and Sunski deliver a good product that perform well, appeal to the same audience, and include similar features- both the Frogskins and Seacliffs have polarized lenses, are extremely lightweight, come with a lens bag, and promise fashion and sport versatility.
What might be the deciding points for a consumer are price, philosophy, and fit.
While the Frogskins enjoy an established reputation and legions of devotees, the Seacliffs offer fashion and function at a fraction of the price ($65 less), and are from a young company whose philosophy emphasizes its environmental consciousness.
The Seacliffs fit my face snugly, whereas the smoothness of the plastic on the Frogskins contributes to them sliding a bit down my nose more often than I’d like. I have a rather flat Asian nose with not much of a bridge, so that might not be an issue for others.
Finally, the Frogskins might be timeless, but I am not quite sure if they are ageless, given the remarks students made to me when I sported them recently to my college campus office.
Both sunglasses elicited comments of admiration from college students who were attracted to the colors and sporty look. One student informed me they were “Soooo Coachella”, while another said he liked the style, but wondered they made me look a little too “broey.” Suddenly, I felt self-conscious for wearing bright colored eyewear (I prefer muted safety colors that are more versatile and practically scream “safe”) that garnered too much attention.
While I liked the overall look of both pairs of glasses and would wear them for outdoor activities, I felt they were a tad too trendy for my daily style. If, however, you’re looking for fun sunglasses that will get you noticed, look no further than the Oakley Frogskin and Sunski Seacliff.