If the ‘80s had a penchant for supersized fashion, the following decade did the complete reverse. Rather than being larger-than-life, sunglasses from the ‘90s were characterised by their small size. If you’re a ‘90s fan, you know that bigger isn’t necessarily better, at least as far as sunglasses are concerned. Along with chokers and bucket hats, which are also awesome styles from the decade, sunglasses from this period are just as cool now as thirty years ago. Take a peek at our favourite shades then pick up a pair of pre-owned sunglasses for a ‘90s inspired summer.
Are there any Hollywood twins more famous than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen? This pair dominated ‘90s entertainment in beloved sitcoms as well as their own movies. Though pint-sized, these stylish sisters had an oversized impact on the fashion world. At a precocious age they were already setting trends in fashion but there’s at least one Olsen look that is surely timeless: round sunglasses. The Olsens are known for always wearing a great pair of shades, but the round sunglasses are a style that remains even decades later. Take it from two twins who topped best dressed lists for a decade and built a fashion empire for themselves... ‘90s era round glasses are never going to go out of style.
Round sunglasses lend themselves superbly to tinted lenses. As a bit of a retro throwback to even earlier decades (think John Lennon in his round glasses) red, yellow and even blue hues go well with this shape. The circular specs of the ‘90s were characterised by thin, metal frames.
While not exactly round, oval sunnies are undoubtedly a favourite ‘90s look that is just as adored today. Check out some of today’s style icons, like Gigi Hadid and Selena Gomez, who have all rocked oval sunglasses recently.
Choosing accessories that won’t fall by the wayside when trends change is an important step in becoming a more conscious consumer. Styles like round sunglasses, that will look good for the long haul, are a smart choice for a more environmentally-friendly wardrobe. Shop for this look and other ‘90s staple items in the vintage section at Vestiaire Collective.
In the ‘90s, big labels didn’t hesitate to splash their names on a pair of shades. One of the top entertainers of the decade was rap star Vanilla Ice, who was famous for his outfits but also for one particular pair of slick shades: the blue-tinted Jean Paul Gaultier 56 8272. With ‘Gaultier’ embossed in silver in big block letters, and stars on the front corner, these are definitely statement sunglasses.
The ‘90s were big on logos, so vintage sunglasses from the decade don’t stop with the Vanilla Ice look. Logomania had its origins at Chanel’s 1992 catwalk where models wore sunglasses with the double-locked ‘C’ logo on the lenses themselves. While perhaps not a practical way to wear sunglasses, these are undeniably chic, and a testament to how much the ‘90s adored the not-so-subtle logo.
Versace added their voice to the choir with thick frame sunglasses featuring a gold medusa head on the edge that rapper Notorious B.I.G. made famous. Today, Versace offers an updated version called “Biggie” and other throwbacks to its ‘90s classics like the retro round shades with a laser engraved Versace motif.
When models such as the Jean Paul Gaultier shades worn by Vanilla Ice become cult objects and collector’s items, they can be hard to find. At Vestiaire Collective, our community offers millions of vintage logomania accessories so you can find the iconic looks from your favourite decades. It’s like a treasure hunt to the past. Buying retro and imitation items that are reproductions is risky because often they are inferior in quality compared to the original. By purchasing the genuine item, you get a pair of sunglasses that already has a proven durability. Choosing to buy pre-loved pieces on Vestiaire is wise because the selection is amazing, the pieces are quality and can be worn a long time and it’s a truly sustainable alternative to destructive fast fashion.
The ‘90s saw the birth of scrunchies and jelly shoes but it also saw the rise of something a bit more classy: the supermodel. Yes, models have existed for all time, but it wasn’t until the ‘90s that they became bonafide celebrities. To be precise, it was the stroke of genius that made Gianni Versace send the 3 top supermodels of the generation down a catwalk together in his fall 1991 show that gave birth to the idea of models as celebrities. Fusing fashion and pop culture together, the moment changed the fashion world to this day.
The Big Six supermodels, which included Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, had a great influence on fashion thanks to their personal style. Rectangle sunglasses were made popular after these lovely ladies chose to wear them. The rectangle frame was one of the most enduring shapes of the ‘90s and pairs excellently with any ensemble for a nonchalant-yet-glamorous look.
But the one ‘90s model who stands out for her more hard-edged and wild fashion choices is the multi-talented Jamaican style icon, Grace Jones. Her look was never complete without a unique pair of statement shades. Jones’ androgynous style has a lasting appeal and she still is rocking creative shades to events to this day. One of her favourite frames is an edgy pair designed by Paloma Picasso. Our global community of over 10 million fashion and Earth-conscious sellers offer the best of the best when it comes to pre-loved rectangular sunglasses.
Sunglasses are an integral part of hip-hop culture and the burgeoning rap music scene of the ‘90s made for some of the most iconic looks of the decade.
Jean Paul Gaultier was the biggest name in sunglasses design for the hip-hop scene during the ‘90s. Tupac was the first rapper to wear Gaultier sunglasses and was instrumental in propelling the French design house into street fashion fame. Thanks to the quirky and unique aesthetic of Gaultier, frames from the ‘90s are still covetable items in the present day. Lady Gaga and ASAP Rocky have been seen in Gaultier frames. Rocky even wore his Gaultier shades in his music video Goldie. As a result, they were re-released through a collaboration with Supreme in 2019, making just about the coolest shades we could imagine. You can search for collector’s sunglasses like this pair pre-loved on Vestiaire Collective.
Chanel is one of the designers most worn by today’s hip-hop stars, but rather than buying new shades, even names like Pharrell Williams know that vintage is the coolest way to dress. He is known for adoring his vintage ‘90s Chanel glasses, going so far as to making a collaborative edition with the luxury house.
We can go on and on about the hip-hop sunnies of the ‘90s. This was the era when the accessory was elevated from mere supporting character. From Cartier’s wood sunglasses to Gucci’s ski goggles, sunglasses were the main show. But in 2021, even artists like Rihanna, who aren’t limited by anything, are choosing to wear vintage sunglasses from this decade because they are just as stylish now as ever. We are excited that stars are choosing to shop vintage because we know that buying pre-loved items reduces the extraction of raw resources that damages the planet. Head to Vestiaire to check out all our vintage accessories from ‘90s hip-hop accessories to pre-loved ‘70s sunglasses, and more.
The ‘90s saw a proliferation of films that were radically futuristic. The costume design in films like The Matrix and The Terminator inspired a generation of fashion designers to create with more forward thinking than ever before. Retro futuristic sunglasses weren't just a trend, though. Science-fiction inspired sunglasses are just as cool today.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in The Terminator defined virility and strength. You can find pre-loved ‘80s sunglasses through the Vestiaire app to emulate his look from the first film, or look for the Persol Ratti shades he wore in his 1991 revival. This model isn’t manufactured anymore and finding them pre-loved allows you to not only snatch a more authentic pair of shades. You’ll be buying them in a more environmentally sustainable way than buying new, too!
The dark, skinny oval lenses and minimalist metal frame worn by Keanu Reeves in The Matrix sums up the decade in sunglasses. The style of the era was to go as small as possible. The sunglasses in The Matrix weren’t just a costume piece, though. This is a look that has maintained popularity, and encouraged imitations, for over twenty years.
Contemporary Balenciaga sunglasses are where Matrix minimalism meets French minimalism. The brand has a pair of Matrix-inspired skinny specs that have been seen on the likes of Kendall Jenner and other A-listers, but it’s not their only space-age design. Adoring the futuristic style, Balenciaga’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection debuted a highly technical pair of shades that features an LED logo can be worn blinking or static. If you’re lucky, you can already find them pre-loved on the app.
It is easy to be wistful for the ‘90s. It was a time that now seems relaxed and carefree compared to the high-speed new millenium. Like with most decades, some fashions of the ‘90s turned out to be fleeting trends, but the sunglasses are truly timeless. While pop culture definitely had a role to play in influencing the fashion of the day, designers were creating with more of an eye on the future. Thus, many of the sun accessories that came out of this era still enjoy a place in sartorial society today.
Shopping for items that are evergreen and perennial is one of the best ways to build a collection of thoughtfully purchased clothing and accessories. Rather than shopping for trends, look to the great designs of the past to see what will stay in style for decades. Sunglasses like retro round shades and vintage designer sunglasses have the staying power to ensure your shades don’t end up in a landfill at the end of the season. Don’t cover your eyes to the harmful practices of unsustainable overconsumption. Instead, protect them with a pair of timeless pre-loved shades from Vestiaire Collective.