The label: BonLook
The story: With an eye on the gap in the e-commerce eyewear market, brother-sister team Sophie and Louis-Felix Boulanger co-founded the line in Montreal in 2011. Setting out to design, manufacture and sell direct to customers at budget-friendly prices, the brand now boasts a growing list bricks-and-mortar stores in addition to a digital boutique. Expect trendy-meets-timeless prescription glasses and sunglasses styles, such as the best-sellers Illusion and Breezy, to ring in at $135.
A closer look: Tapping into home grown talent, the brand has hit a sweet spot by mastering the art of the collab. Bold, delicate and subtle describes the current Maripier Morin X BonLook collection. Choose from one of three elegant metal arms to showcase an oversize rimless silhouette that’s named Anna, after the star’s inspiration – her maternal grandmother. And keep an eye out for the latest collaboration with Canadian electropop duo Milk & Bone. The range features retro inspired aviator frames and negative space cat eye shapes that are perfectly quirky and instantly covetable.
The label: Fellow Earthlings
The story: Launched in the spring of 2014, Sydney and Christopher Seggie packed up their years of experience from working internationally in the eyewear industry and opened shop in Guernsey Cove, Prince Edward Island. Offering accessible custom eyewear, a visit to their site is a shopping pick-your-own-adventure come to life. Customers can choose from a selection of frame shapes, materials and lens colour options to make a perfect, handmade to order, pair. Fun fact: PEI has long been the go-to for the world’s most fashionable lenses. “PEI is beyond an inspiration because in many ways Fellow Earthlings wouldn’t exist without it,” says Sydney, “All of our eyewear mentors came out of the old factory in Charlottetown that made eyewear for everyone from Ray-Ban (B&L) to Ralph Lauren back in the ’80s. Without the history of industry here, and the knowledge and skill that remained because of it, we couldn’t be here today. Our two new shapes added for Spring 2017, the Eddie and the Annie, are tributes to the little island we love.”
A closer look: With options that run the gamut from basic black and classic tortoiseshell to a more playful aesthetic (a sky-blue matte cat-eye shape with mirrored lenses, anyone?), Fellow Earthlings can satisfy any style preference. And for collabs with major designers they take things to the next level. “For SS17 we had the exciting opportunity to bring to life another beautiful idea from Anna Sui through our long-time collaboration with her eyewear partner Mondottica. Her knowledge of vintage and passion for eyewear are a magical combination–this season we made for her a scalloped shape in bright glitter and colourful iridescent tortoise materials that are so beautiful,” says Sydney.
The label: MarsQuest
The story: For anyone who knows the Murphy’s Law of pricey sunglasses (they get sat on almost immediately after purchasing), MarsQuest is here for you. Founded just last year in Toronto, the line is helmed by Shawn Xu and Mars Cai, two young guys from the finance world, along with Jek Li, a veteran with over twenty years of experience in the world of the eyewear. “During the years we were students, we were unable to afford pairs of premium sunglasses, and usually had to save up a long time to be able to purchase them,” says co-founder Xu, of his and Cai’s accessory experience, “When we finally bought a pair, we either broke them or lost them the following summer, and so we had to save up for another year.” Their mission: to democratize the sunglass market and offer customers eyewear that’s affordable, without compromising functionality and/or style.
A closer look: You can’t put a price on an epic summer selfie, but shopping the attention-grabbing collection requires a small investment that’ll bring in a big ROI. A choice of striking translucent colours is only $30 a pair, while something in a contrasting frame and lens combo will set you back $50. The best part is there’s nothing lost in the bells and whistles department. “Our factory is one of the major suppliers of Luxottica and Safilo. It manufactures sunglasses and prescription frames for world-renowned top brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley and more,” says Xu, speaking to the start-ups unique access to impressive resources. That means all the boxes are ticked when it comes to polarized lenses, UV protection, glare reduction and flexible yet durable construction. Oh, and you can add ‘doing good’ to the list of benefits, too. One dollar from every single pair purchased online is donated to SickKids Foundation.