You know you’re on to something good when Forbes Magazine lists your product as ‘100 Things Worth Every Penny’. Along with Steinway grand pianos, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and a Gucci leather jacket are listed ‘Maui Jim sunglasses’. This list was made back in 1999, but Maui Jims have been in Hawaii since 1980, and with their new Summer 2021 collection, they are still pushing the envelope in terms of cutting edge sunglasses technology, design and fashion.
Maui Jim made big changes last year, employing famous glasses designer Richard Walker of Blinde Design Project fame into its creative team. Walker designed all of the sunglasses used in the ‘Matrix’ film trilogy, and is renown for his ‘3D’ approach to design. Unlike most glasses frame designers who draw their designs on paper, Richard Walker takes a sculptor’s approach to his creations. Using wax to fill aluminium moulds, his focus is on creating designs he’d wear himself. He once said, ‘I’m not creating fashion for the season.’ Rather, he wants to sculpt glasses frames whose style will endure over time.
The idea was to revolutionise Maui Jim’s image via new design styles, and Richard Walker’s latest results have been nothing less than groundbreaking for the world’s sunglasses industry. As always, sport is key to the new Maui Jim line, as surfing culture is in their blood. However, this year Maui Jim is going somewhat ‘Maui Jane’, with Walker’s more feminine and fashion-focused designs being integrated into the mix.
A lot of Richard Walker’s glasses designs come from the days of old. He loves old objects that he finds in op shops and at Salvos, and is inspired by vintage eyewear he sees in old films, as well as drawings from the 1930’s and roaring 40’s. Shying away from traditional lens forms, 2013’s summer line encompasses more rounded lens shapes, a wider variety of frame colours, gradient frames and gradient lenses.
Of course all of the new lenses are polarised, as Maui Jim were the originators in creating a sunglasses lens that took out glare, yet retained colour. They are specialist polarised lens manufacturers, creating the lens first and then the frame around it. Gradient tinted polarised lenses (very rare!) – it doesn’t get any cooler than this!
If we had to describe the new Maui Jim range, we’d separate it into two main categories. The first is ascribing to the female sunglasses wearer, the fashionable type that wants to stand out while walking along the St. Kilda beach boardwalk. The second is a cross between a Pipeline ‘beachy’ vibe and Honolulu urbanism. Some frames are made in Japan, while others are 100% Italian acetate. Their beta titanium frames allow flexibility, but are stronger than steel.
Maui Jim’s bi-gradient mirror lenses reflect a lot of glare, and their anti-reflective coating is on both sides of the lens; only premium brands do this. It’s great for when the sun is shining behind you. This is true attention to detail. The Summer 2013 Maui Jim range uses both classical and new styles, with innovative colours, shapes and materials. The result is an evolving fashion style from a new designer who has really hit his stride. Come on down to Visual Q Eyecare in South Yarra, Melbourne, and we’ll take you through these brand new Maui Jim’s. They’re so hot, when you pick them up it feels like they’ve been out in the blazing sun.
By Simon Ch’ng