A look into the history of one of the most confusing fads of the 21st century
The discussion around early 2000s fashion has been nothing short of exhausted this past year as we’ve seen the resurgence and slow death of what used to be considered the “ugliest era in personal style”. However, with people moving away from the blinged-out unique clothing choices of 2002, there is now a new, more deserving era of fashion to criticize: the post-2008 recession. The increased speed of clothing manufacturing allowed brands to breeze through trends without wasting money on overproduction, thanks to high demand created through social media. While there are plenty of abysmal trends from that time period, few had the broad-reaching hold as the coveted shutter shades.
Depending on how old you were in the late 2000s, you might remember shutter shades as either something you saw a couple of people wearing at a house party sophomore year of college or the it-item everyone would have confiscated in 6th grade during recess. They were often purchased at the coolest store in every mall: Hot Topic. They came in a variety of colors so it was easy to match them to the colorful hair you dreamed of having.
They were first created in the 1950s and have since been called "Venetian Blinders". They featured a slatted, angled design to protect from the sun, layered over a cat-eye frame – the most popular sunglass shape at the time. Worn as a chic accessory, they didn't become a major trend until they were re-branded as the fun party glasses we now know them as.
Shutter shades first became popular in the 1980s, many attributing the rise in popularity to pro-wrestler Randall Mario Poffo. While they became unanimous with campy 1980’s style, they weren’t brought back for a while, with people wanting actually protective and practical eyewear to wear.
The modern resurgence of shutter shades came from Kanye West’s music video for his hit single “Stronger”. The track sampled Daft Punk’s vocals from their 2001 song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, which added to the futuristic feel Kanye was going for. The music video reflected this sound by featuring clips of Tokyo, Japan. The shutter shades added to the feel as their clean, modern look help blend him with the concept of the music video. They were created by Mikli – a high-end eyeglass designer. The aviator shape is in line with popular silhouettes of the time and the shutters added something ‘usefully fun’ – a commonality in late 2010’s trends.
Although shutter shades have fallen out of popular favor for their impracticality and cheap, mass-produced frame, the slatted design may be re-imagined into eyewear in the future, emulating their initial introduction in the 1950s.