Editor’s Note: This edition of Gear We Test is presented by RAEN.
From the consumer’s perspective, there are only a few variables that distinguish a pair of quality shades from a cheapo pair you don’t mind losing, trampling on, or just flat out get tired of over time.
Good lenses. Fit. Durability. I’ve rarely paid attention to much else when it came to my sunglasses, to be honest. I’ve just learned that paying good money for something nice means I’m more likely to take care of it — less likely to lose it at the beach or leave it behind at a pool. But learning exactly what makes for a quality pair of sunglasses can bring a whole new appreciation. In the case of RAEN‘s line of eyewear, the process behind its construction and design has been built right into the brand’s story.
The California-based company makes both eyeglasses and sunglasses. A few months ago they sent me a bright pair of honey-colored Aren shades in a box that read “handcrafted just for you.” I had no idea what that meant so I dug into their story to learn a bit more about the whole “handcrafted” process, which amounts to a lot of attention to detail in the selection of materials, the polish and finish, and how it will all hold up over time. For example, RAEN uses a specific cellulose acetate to construct their frames. That helps them maintain their original bright color over time instead of a cheap paint that will chip off, fade, or peel. I’ve also had my fair share of expensive sunglasses lose their shape over time, either falling apart thanks to loose screws or even temples that slowly bend. Something as simple as molding each temple around a wire frame helps RAEN’s glasses maintain a consistent fit over time.
I can vouch that my own pair still look brand new after about three months of wearing them daily. They fit the same without any bending or flexing in the frames or around the temple — no loose screws or hinges. And that bright honey color hasn’t faded or gotten dingy either. Overall, RAEN follows through on its promise of quality eyewear with the bonus of stylish designs you don’t see every day.