What steps are involved in the manufacture of sunglasses? Learn the type of materials used to make sunglasses and how designers bring their ideas to life.

Every collection of sunglasses starts with an idea. Since the sources of inspiration are endless, ideas can come from very different influences. 

Many designers draw inspiration from nature, art, architecture or (pop) culture. Most often, the designer has an idea of ​​the special “feeling” that the new sunglasses should have. 

To capture this “feeling”, which can also be seen as a mood or character, the designer can collect ideas, clippings and inspiration on a so-called “mood board”, which later helps the designer to get the right design.

In many cases, the designer receives input from a product manager, as the main reason for designing new sunglasses from a business perspective is a customer requirement or desire. 

What types of sunglasses does the target group need? Special sunglasses for the winter? Sunglasses for a round face? Or maybe cute sunglasses that kids would appreciate? The ideal is for the product manager and designer to collaborate all the way from idea to launch of a new collection.

How Sunglasses Are Made infographic

Production of Designer Sunglasses

Once the designer has found the inspiration he or she needs, they start by making a draft. Each designer deals with this in different ways. A designer who is passionate about retro sunglasses can look at different sunglasses from the 80’s to get a sense of fashion at that time. A designer who wants to design sunglasses for children can draw inspiration from their own childhood memories or popular children’s media.

When the draft is ready, the designer will ensure that he or she receives a first prototype. This is usually achieved through extensive craftsmanship. Depending on the material, the prototype is created by milling and filing. When the prototype is sufficiently modeled, it is scanned in 3D and the next step in the design process will be done using computer-aided design (CAD) software.

What Are the Most Popular Materials to Make Sunglasses In?

There are a variety of materials available to construct sunglasses with. Some frames are made of metal, others of plastic and some are even made of wood.

Most spectacle frames are made of injected plastic or acetate. A big difference is how these sunglasses are made. Plastic sunglasses are cast, while acetate arches are cut from acetate pieces. 

Acetate is a material made from cotton, dried and ground into cellulose powder which is treated with acid to create the raw material which is then pressed into pieces of acetate.

Unique Sunglasses

Some designers are determined to combine functionality and design. Some treat sunglasses as jewelry and place emphasis on artistic production. Staying at the forefront of technological innovation in materials and manufacturing is crucial.

There are several ways to make sunglasses. Each way is as unique as the resulting collection. The various creative approaches to making sunglasses ensure a large number of different results that the consumer can choose from.



Keith is the founder of Sunglasses Search. He worked for a number of years at a well-known sunglasses brand, starting as a sales assistant and working his way up to assistant manager where he developed his love and in-depth knowledge for sunglasses.

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