Does the perfect pair of summer shades remain as elusive as romantic bliss? Michael Hald scours the city to help you find your match and discovers that, with style as in love, perfection has its price.
Whether floating on a raft in the Müggelsee or posing for potential Facebook profile pictures in Görli, you don’t just want to protect your eyeballs this summer: you want to look good. But how to stand out from the Ray Ban-clad pack?
First stop: Mykita (1). A Berlin staple with a flagship store on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße, they make gorgeous shades in clean, minimalist design, often in striking materials, like stainless steel and horn, and bold colours ranging from dark green to metallic cerise. Minimalism fans will fall in love with the HOPE model, a black, oval pair of stainless steel frames. But with a price tag of €299, the financially challenged among us will have to continue the search.
If money is no object, you could also try your luck at their main competitor, ic! Berlin (6) on Max-Beer-Straße. Started by one of Mykita’s original founders, their frames (€288-435) are similar in both materials and design, but with a slightly more aerodynamic aesthetic and they use clamps instead of screws to hold the whole thing together. Practical, and fine if you want to, say, enhance your cycling speed.
For something less sporty and more dramatic, there’s Kuboraum's (4) showroom on Köpenicker Straße. Their mask-like sunglass designs are big, distinctive and theatrical. But even if you can imagine yourself wearing (and pulling off) the Mask K9 or the Mask U1 models, the prices start at around a solid €250 and go up to a whopping €2250. Time to broaden your horizons and seek out stores with more international brands – and a wider range of prices!
Optometrist Goltz Optick is an English-speaking, expat-friendly Schöneberg institution with more than 20 years of experience in the frame game. A no-brainer if your eyes are defective – just resist the impulse to buy a pair similar to Kurt Cobain’s iconic white sunglasses (€280, designed by LOOK). After all, what’ll happen when the 1990s revival ends?
Back in Mitte, Specs on Alte Schönhauser Straße carries a lot of international brands, ranging from Ray-Ban to the more expensive Tom Ford (€100-700) and a gorgeous pair of oval-round Garrett Leight ‘Wilson Sun’ (€300).
There’s always the vintage option. The Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg locations of Lunettes Selection (2)(€89-1500) have been drawing in the hipsters and art mums for years. Though they also have their own signature line of frames inspired by vintage classics, the real deal’s even better, like some oval-round Gianfranco Ferre beauties, mint condition at €198 (and the shop’s only pair). Older or second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper!
Still, the range is wider in both price and style at Kreuzberg gem Brillenschatz (3), a treasure trove of original, unworn designer shades (starting at €40) from the days of yore, from the outlandish and often imitated Alain Mykli to the timelessly chic Christian Dior to the rare, limited-to-300-pairs-kind that used to adorn Elton John’s face (€10,000!).
Author’s note: Unable to take my mind off Mykita’s classic, minimalistic beauties but unwilling to pony up the cash, I went into a small, hip clothing store on Torstraße to shop the pain away. And what do you know? – Right there, in the back of Paul’s Boutique, was a beautiful pair of Cheap Monday sunglasses, similar to the classic Ray-Ban model but a steal at only €16. Our love might not be everlasting, but it’s real and that’s good enough – for now.
Originally published in issue #129, July/August 2014.