Gas station wraparound sunglasses are trending & More Latest News Here


Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga’s high-fashion take on the wraparound sunglasses you’ll find in your local petrol station.

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Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga’s high-fashion take on the wraparound sunglasses you’ll find in your local petrol station.

They are always there, if you look for them: a pair of sturdy, affordable sunglasses at your local petrol station, most often wraparound in style with a reflective lens, and under $20.

From slogan T-shirts to Uggs, fashion has always loved irony and ‘gas station sunglasses’ are simply the latest item to be added to the ‘so ugly it’s now cool’ list – except now, they’re being released by luxury brands like Balenciaga and Prada and being worn by celebrities, fashion girls and Gen Z. But let’s not forget their roots and biggest fans: tradies, bogans and dads.

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What you think of when you hear ‘gas station’ or ‘wraparound’ sunglasses will depend on your age, location or level of interest in pop culture and the news.

Kim Kardashian has been on a high-profile one woman campaign to turn them into a covetable designer item, wearing various Balenciaga versions in paparazzi photos, on the red carpet and at the actual gas station.

On TikTok, the king of oversized and dishevelled dadcore, Adam Sandler, has been name-dropped.

There’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sunglasses in Terminator 2: Judgement Day; the Persol Ratti 58230 style; no longer in production. Some may immediately think of Brian Tamaki’s reflective Oakley shades (instantly uncool by default). Others, Ali G and his yellow-lensed versions.

If you came of age in the 90s or noughties, images of rave, snow or surf culture may come to mind, with their futuristic apocalyptic wraparound style shades that protect from the harsh glare of the sun. That’s what I thought of when I saw the 3D printed sunglasses from young Auckland-based brand Kettle, an exaggerated stylised take on the wraparound style.

There’s also a royal connection: Princess Anne, the most stylish royal, in her groovy reflective shades paired with prim and proper tweed. Her preferred style – Adidas with a red polarised lens – is really more sporty than gas station, a pair you’d see on a cyclist, jockey or horse girl. But you will likely find a similar (cheaper) version at your local Z, Mobil or Shell.

Your reference may be closer to home: your uncle, brother-in-law or dad in their favourite pair of Arnette, Dirty Dogs or Locs. For Kiwis and Australians there’s the tongue-in-cheek nickname: as seen in The Alternative Commentary Collective’s ‘Speed Dealers’ frames, described as being “previously reserved for middle-aged dads wearing Holden T-shirts”.

The girls that get it, get it: Princess Anne is a longtime fan of a sporty wrap-around style.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The girls that get it, get it: Princess Anne is a longtime fan of a sporty wrap-around style.

To try and figure out the true genius of this classic dad accessory, I decided to turn to the most qualified person I know: my Dad. He works in security, is a proud Ford T-shirt wearing Westie (though now lives in Hawke’s Bay) and currently has two pairs of wraparound shades in his car and two in his work bag.

“They always have to be black,” he says of the sunglasses. “And they must be dark or tinted.”

According to Dad, the best pairs are streamlined and they should be genuine wraparounds; better for tradies working outside. “It’s got to be practical first, because you’re working in them all day – then it’s about looks,” he says.

What is it about gas stations and these types of frames, I ask. Wherever in Aotearoa New Zealand you are, you can go into a petrol station and find at least one pair displayed, usually pretty prominently.

The obvious appeal is that they’re cheap, Dad explains, but they’re also sturdy and handy to leave in your car as a spare. “You’re just standing there waiting to get your purchase, tempted. A good service station will have it in sight, and you’ll just grab them. Don’t overthink it.”

As for fashion turning the wraparound into a luxury item, he has zero interest in my intellectualised theory that it’s simply about designers and celebrities like Kim Kardashian co-opting and cosplaying the aesthetics of the working class.

Instead, he likens it to musicians today going back to old songs and remaking them, with a typically straightforward Dad explanation: “They’ve just got no more new ideas.”

SHOP: Gas station vibes, from high to low:

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