When I was approached by Carrera to take a look at their eyewear and write a sponsored post, I felt inclined to do so because of the fond memories I had of the name: as a child growing up in Germany I played with Carrera slot racing cars, Porsche created the iconic Carrera car and my father had a pair of Carrera sunglasses. The one thing all of them have in common is their namesake, the famous car race Carrera Panamerica.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Carrera sunglasses, outline the brand’s history and share a new style.
History of Carerra
It all began in 1948, when Wilhelm Anger founded the Wilhelm Anger Werker company that specialized in the manufacturing of plastic glasses. At the time, plastic sunglasses were in their infancy and Anger was a pioneer in that sector. Why exactly the Austrian founder Anger chose to name his brand Carrera in 1956 is uncertain, however I suspect his admiration for the race car drivers of this legendary 1950 – 1954 race in combination with a desire to create eyewear specifically for sports may have had something to do with it.
In 1964, in a further pioneering step, Anger patented Optyl®, a new form of resin which was hypoallergenic, extremely durable, and 20% lighter than all other plastics used in the sunglasses industry. The resin provided permanent elasticity and dimensional stability, meaning it would adapt to the wearer’s face with a “memory effect”. Most people do not know the impact this material had on the industry but to this day, 90% of all high end sunglasses are manufactured with Optyl. Being so close to the Alps, Carrera produced innovative ski goggles and helmets at first. At the same time, the Austrian Udo Proksch designed VIENNALINE sunglasses as well as the premium Serge Kirchofer line until 1976. In 1966, the company expanded into the licensing business and began manufacturing sunglasses for fashion brands. In fact, the first fashion sunglasses by Dior in 1966 were made by Carrera.
In, 1977, Carrera International moved their headquarters to Traun in Austria and a new line of sports sunglasses was introduced that turned out be a huge success for the company. Just two years later, a collaboration with Porsche was announced and so Ferdinand Alexander Porsche designed the Carrera Porsche Design Collection, which had two hallmarks: interchangeable lenses and foldable models that allowed for easy and compact storage. Today, original pieces from the Porsche collection yield prices north of $500. In the early eighties, Carrera expanded into the subscription market and entered collaborations with Boeing in 1986, the America’s Cup, and made appearances at the Olympics in Montreal and at famous bike races. At the same time, they introduced the sunjet collection, which turned out to be rather popular. In the nineties, the brand expanded into bicycle helmets and eyewear before the company was sold to the world’s largest manufacturer of sunglasses: Safilo Group
In the following years, the manufacturing plant in Traun, Austria continued to produce premium Optyl sunglasses for brands such as Dunhill, Dior and Playboy. However, in 2004 the Italian Safilo Group decided to move production abroad, which led to the closure of the plant in Austria.
Today, Carrera continues to reissue famous styles, such as the Carrera 6000, 6008 or Champion. At the same time they keep launching new models and styles, such as the 5003, which is not entirely new but is inspired by the sunjet collection of the late eighties.
Personally, my head is far from small, and hence regular off the peg sunglasses often look comically undersized. The temples have a tendency to bend slightly outwards and apart from that disadvantage, they also push uncomfortably on my head.
This is not the case with the Carrera 5003 sunglasses; the frame is naturally wider and they fit my head very well. They are all made of plastic in China. When I took them out of the bag the first time I thought they were almost too lightweight but frankly, sunglasses can never be too light. At less than an ounce, these glasses are so comfortable to wear because I don’t feel them. Upon closer inspection I came to appreciate the subtle two-tone matte and shiny design. Now, generally we all have a tendency to consider heavy goods to be of higher quality. For example, when we touch a solid metal frame we associate workmanship and solidity with it. Just think of the old cameras made by Leica or Nikon. They are all metal, built to last and they feel like a tank. However, in everyday life, you quickly realize they are too heavy. Sure, past generations used them day in day out, but why burden yourself if you don’t have to? Science has come a long way and light materials are not always less sturdy. In fact houses that are glued together with special adhesives outperform and outlast traditional screws and nails. So, the same is true for sunglasses – lightweight can be just as stable and more comfortable to wear. I find this feature particularly beneficial when I travel, as I may be wearing my sunglasses all day.
In regard to style, these sunglasses are great because the squarish look is different from anything I own. Also, the mix of two tone color and texture appeals because it is different than most sunglasses, yet subtle. We have all seen the squeaky red or light blue sunglasses and while they are fine for a colorful outfit, you won’t get a lot of wear out of them. A subtle model in black, grey, navy, dark green or tortoise shell with a twist like two tones, different textures or special glasses can make all the difference. Interestingly, the textured finish of the temples provides a good grip of the sunglasses on your making them well suited for all kinds of activity such as running and especially biking, because not only will they stay on your head but also keep the bugs and flying objects out of your eyes.
Optically, I can’t find any flaws. There is no distortion but that’s usually only something found with inferior sunglasses. At the same time, I can tell the lenses are not polarized.
Sunglasses are just like other accessories – you have to match them so they blend with the ensemble and maintain their character. I am really enamored with this fresco jacket because it has such a wonderful color. Since it is half lined, it breathes really well and here I combined it with a yellow and charcoal striped summer shirt, black silk knit tie, pastel yellow cotton pocket square and cornflower boutonniere. As mentioned in another post, it is perfectly adequate to mix pocket square and boutonniere as long as the flower is small and the square isn’t too dramatic. What do you think of the look?
At the moment, you see a lot of dapper gents with their sunglasses in their chest pockets, a multitude of wristbands, a colorful pocket square AND a scarf… it just looks too overloaded. So if I wanted to wear my sunglasses in the chest pocket, I would remove the pocket square because otherwise the outfit would be heavily imbalanced between left and right.
On the other hand, without a boutonniere, it is perfectly fine to put the sunglasses in your chest pocket when you don’t use them. Generally, I prefer to put them behind the square so you don’t see it but you could also wear it as seen below.
This casual summer outfit consists of a light blue linen/cotton blazer, white summer shirt, madder bow tie, wool challis pocket square with navy white polka dots with a blue Carrera 5003.