The 10 Best Electric Sunglasses

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This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in October of 2017. The independently-owned Electric Sunglasses offers an impressive line of shades with California cool inspiration and high-quality Italian craftsmanship. It's a winning combination, with styles for just about every personality. So, whether you want reliable protection in an understated look or you crave attention, there's a pair of sunnies on our list that's screaming your name. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Knoxville Frame

2. AV1 Large Aviator

3. Visual Stacker Matte

Editor's Notes

August 26, 2019:

One of the things that Electric has been doing extraordinarily well since their arrival on the scene in 2000 is take the history of a given style into account and create something new that feels like both a throwback and a piece of modern eyewear. Their many styles of Wayfarers are a great example of this, as they have pairs that sometimes feel grounded in the 1950s (the Knoxville Wayfarers at number one), when Ray-Ban made the design famous, and others that feel more connected to the 1980s (the Mainstay Wayfarers at number eight), when the style had its second life. In many cases, their glasses are a bit weightier and more substantial than the pairs of old, which is exactly where modern pioneers of eyewear like Jacque Marie Mage are pushing the industry in 2019.

In updating the ranking, we got rid of a pair of the Magenta Oversized, which were suffering from availability issues and which are no longer even seen on the company's website. We also decided to remove one of the four wayfarer models in favor of something from the company's Nashville line. Even with the variety of flavors they inject into something as deceptively simple as a wayfarer, we still couldn't deny adding more choice for folks whose head shapes don't support rectangular frames, and the round shape of the Nashvilles are a perfect offset to give everyone something that will look good on them. We also wanted to prioritize polarized options wherever we could, but keep in mind that for things like piloting airplanes and riding motorcycles, polarized sunglasses are not advised, as their ability to reduce the glare coming off other cars or planes can extend your reaction time if you need to perform any evasive maneuvers.

4. Men's Nashville

5. Swingarm Wayfarer

6. Knoxville XL

7. Visual Backbone

8. Mainstay Wayfarer 51mm

9. Mopreme Wayfarer Matte

10. Charge Wrap Gloss

Sunglasses Through The Ages

Some time in the early 1750s, James Ayscough, an English optician, introduced double-hinged spectacles.

Sunglasses in one form or another have been around since prehistoric times. At one point in this distant past, Intuit people, faced with the unrelenting glare of the sun off the surrounding ice and snow, came up with the ingenious idea of wearing flattened and polished walrus tusks over their eyes. They cut little slits into them, allowing for a reasonable amount of vision while significantly reducing the amount of the sun's rays hitting their pupils.

Fast forward to the 1st century C.E., and we have stories of the Roman emperor Nero wearing emeralds over his eyes while watching gladiator fights. Whether these functioned more like mirrors, sun-blocking shades, or as corrective lenses is hard to determine, however. In the 12th century C.E., the Chinese were known to have fashioned flat panels of smoky quartz to wear over their eyes to block out the sun's glare. These smokey quartz panels were also used by judges in Ancient China to conceal their facial expressions from witnesses during questioning.

It wasn't until the 18th century C.E. that humans began experimenting with tinted glass as a material for glasses. Some time in the early 1750s, James Ayscough, an English optician, introduced double-hinged spectacles. While his first creations featured clear lenses, he believed that colored glass lenses, especially those tinted in shades of blue or green, could be used to correct certain vision impairments. These tinted glass spectacles are the precursors most closely related to common day sunglasses. In an interesting side note, the famed poet Edgar Allan Poe called green sunglasses an abomination in his 1846 article “A Few Words on Etiquette,” while stating that blue ones were distinguished and respectable.

In 1913, William Crookes, invented a 100 percent ultraviolet- and 90 percent infrared -blocking lens, aptly termed Crooke lenses. Unlike previous protective sunglasses lenses, these contained cerium and were only slightly tinted. Throughout the first and second decade of the 20th century, sunglasses became popular among movie stars, but it wasn't until 1929, when Sam Foster started mass-producing inexpensive versions, that the common man started wearing them. In 1936, the first polarized sunglasses were created by Edwin H. Land. By 1937, sunglasses were already becoming a popular fad, with an estimated 20 million pairs sold annually, and even being mentioned in Life magazine in 1938.

A Brief History Of Electric Visual Evolution

Electric Visual Evolution has had an interesting history as it grew from being a small, grassroots eyewear company to a famed action sports lifestyle brand. It was originally founded in the year 2000 in Orange County, California, where it is still currently headquartered by Kip Arnette and Bruce Beach. Around the time of its founding, the two partners hired a graphic designer by the name of Eric Crane, who was responsible for designing the brand's identity and continued to maintain it until 2003.

Electric Visual Evolution has had an interesting history as it grew from being a small, grassroots eyewear company to a famed action sports lifestyle brand.

Though it may have had humble beginnings, by 2007, it was doing over $20 million in sales annually, drawing the attention of Volcom, an action sports apparel company that sells everything from footwear to luggage and closely aligns itself with the skater and snowboarder culture. In 2008, Volcom acquired Electric, choosing to maintain it as a stand-alone brand due to its popularity. Volcom would go on to be acquired by the PPR Sport & Lifestyle Group in 2011, which not long after rebranded itself as the Kering Group.

Eric Crane came back to the company in 2012 as the Chief Commercial Officer. One year later, Bruce Beach, who had been acting as the company's Chief Executive Officer since its founding, decided to step down, naming Crane as the new CEO. At the same time, the company underwent a rebranding with a new logo, identity, and the launching of several new product lines, including helmets and watches.

In 2016, Crane acquired Electric from the Kering Group, making it once again a privately-held company. According to him, it gives the company the ability to evolve and grow at it’s own pace. Rather then being subject to market pressures, they can once again focus on being an eyewear-first company, which is the true essence of their brand.

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Sunglasses may be a vital item in your array of fashion accessories, but they serve a much more important purpose than just making you look cool. Just like how it has a harmful effect on the skin, too much sun exposure can be greatly detrimental to your eyes, resulting in a number of sight-impairing conditions.

Currently, it is estimated that 20 percent of cataracts cases are caused by sun exposure, meaning they could have been avoided by regularly wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, cataracts can be caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, or more accurately, the sun's UV rays. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens that can make it appear as if you are looking through a foggy window. Advanced cataracts can make it difficult to read, watch TV, and even drive a car. Currently, it is estimated that 20 percent of cataracts cases are caused by sun exposure, meaning they could have been avoided by regularly wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.

Both macular degeneration and glaucoma can worsen from UV radiation, too. Either one of these conditions can eventually result in blindness at advanced stages, so it is obviously best not to aggravate your eyes if you suffer from either.

Pterygium, commonly referred to as surfer's eye, though it can affect anybody who spends a significant amount of time outdoors, is another ailment caused by too much exposure to the sun's UV rays. It is a tissue growth over the white of the eye that can actually completely alter its curve. While it isn't usually serious, it can be uncomfortable, giving the feeling of having something stuck in the eye, resulting in redness and irritation. In extreme cases, it can cause vision problems and require surgical treatment.

If all of this wasn't enough for you, how about this? Wearing sunglasses can keep you looking younger. It is human nature to squint when exposed to bright lights. Excessive squinting can lead to unsightly crow's feet around the eyes, giving you the appearance of being older. Wearing sunglasses can help preserve your youthful appearance for a few years longer.

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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