Sunglasses, we were told in the magazines, were supposed to hint at sophistication; they were supposed to invoke thoughts of race day in Monte Carlo or even open air road trips across the United States. “Fly to St Tropez? Well of course, I’ll just get my sunglasses”. Proper sunglasses were expensive, they were not generally seen as daily wear or even as especially fashionable, often only being brought out in the event of an eclipse, or a day at the beach.
US Punk bands like the Ramones wore heavy dark glasses which complimented their skinny jeans and leather jacket look – like muppet biker-boy welders, or bug-eyed insects of Don’t Cares-ville. So how did UK punks to respond to this new fashion dilemma?
By choosing to adopt cheap, plastic children’s sunglasses of course! They could be worn whatever the weather, the season or time of day. They fitted into exactly the same fashion bracket as Jelly Bean shoes; they were inexpensive, immediate, and infantile. The wearing of them was punk rock sarcastic, and a rejection of fashion as expensive or its use as a status symbol.
Featured on the cover of The Vibrators “Baby Baby”, they were also worn extensively by Captain Sensible of The Damned, and soon became a staple of the Punk Rock wardrobe.
Many years later their legacy can still be seen in popular culture. Exhibit A and Exhibit B.