The UK is in its Pollening and we are all primed and ready for Actual Spring. This can only mean one thing – Sunglasses Season is here.

Image credit: @real_housewives_of_clapton

Here are a few things we have observed in the sunglasses category lately.

Looking Smart

Sat between the Regent’s Canal front and the lawn carpets of London Fields is Cubitts’ Broadway Market outpost. The Modernist optical specialist sporting a carefully-restored shopfront – paying tribute to the ghost of the building’s former pie and mash shop – has preserved the original signage and tiled terrazzo floors. Across its stores, Cubitts pays homage to analogue craftsmanship, while conducting careful research and intricate storytelling to cultivate a rooted sense of place, an approach to bricks-and-mortar that premium brands like Aesop and Apple have taken. The visually coherent brand world, one that platforms historic place and a commitment to artisanship, is matched with a clever wit and steady confidence in its messaging, speaking to a growing design-led and community-seeking audience.

Image credit: Cubitts’ Broadway Market outpost; various screengrabs of copywriting and visual language from Cubitts’ website and Journal

Image credit: Apple Carnegie Library, Washington D.C.; Aesop Shanghai

An Eye for Online

Emergent sunglass brands are effectively using arresting visual narratives on TikTok and Instagram to reach the Gen Z consumer in the midst of their endless scroll. LA-based Crap has cemented its irreverent image with a deliberately lo-fi attitude. From its tongue-in-cheek name and zine-style graphics to the grainy, dream-like softness of its point-and-shoot imagery and irregular kerning of its typeface, Crap recruits the creative class to project a relaxed coastal nonchalance with a 00s streetwear edge.

This comforting carefree-ness extends to its happy-go-lucky tone of voice (e.g. ‘Don’t Worry, Be Crappy’) and a realness in presenting as an ‘Earth friendlier’ brand, positioning its sustainability commitments as a protection from ‘bad vibes’.

Image credit: Screengrabs featuring strapline, sustainability statement and campaign photography on Crap Eyewear’s website and social media

Conversational Candour

A verbal identity can also add coherence to brand stories. With their conversational speak, Ace & Tate and Jimmy Fairly offer more personality and candour in its copywriting – for one, the open vowels and rhyming pairs in their names roll of the tongue, the sonic saliency of the rhythm they create coming across to audiences with an honest reliability.

Ace & Tate’s SS24 collection “See you out there” also launches as a peek of sunshine arrives on British shores – asking customers to get ready as Spring approaches imminently and the TOV offering optimism as people get excited for the Summer. 

Image credit: Ace & Tate’s Spring/Summer 2024 “See you out there” campaign; screengrabs of copywriting from Ace & Tate’s website and social media

Jimmy Fairly’s campaign images are also captured with a 0.5x camera angle, borrowing from a trend popular with younger audiences. Moreover, captions that engage with the cultural zeitgeist, including horoscopic personality traits and the recent solar eclipse in the North American hemisphere, subtly weave into social media feeds and codes a brand that speaks with (rather than speaking to) consumers.

Image credit: Jimmy Fairly’s Instagram feed

3 key takeouts for brands:

  1. Immerse your audience in a whole world and interweave stories around your products.
  2. There is an opportunity in the irreverence and informality of the younger consumer.
  3. Keep it friendly, spring and summer are worth looking forward to. Show your audience you can relate to them by sharing their optimism.

Aaron Chan, Senior Semiotician

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