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Back view of Yosemite sunglasses in Tortoise with black studio background

A Closer Look At AETHER Optics

A Closer Look At AETHER Optics

Since our founding in 2009, AETHER has placed the utmost importance on protection. Every piece of technical apparel that we create, from our motorcycle jackets to our big mountain technical gear, is designed with safety front of mind. We have built our reputation on the promise to protect you no matter the conditions, and we’re very excited to continue this legacy with a new eyewear line designed by friend of AETHER, David Rose.

Our new four-piece line sees us revisit eyewear for the first time since 2016 when we collaborated with David and his then-company SALT. Optics on a one-off pair of sunglasses for motorcycle riders. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and since then we’ve been patiently waiting for the right time to return to eyewear. ↓

POV of hands adjusting the lens on AETHER sunglasses in workshop

“We’re based in Southern California, so our team actually wears sunglasses more than jackets,” says Palmer West, co-founder of AETHER. “When you consider how essential your eyesight is for staying safe in potentially dangerous situations, we felt that it made sense for us to bring our ethos of creating protective gear for your adventures into the eyewear space.”

In David, AETHER has a designer that shares our obsession with quality and our attention to detail. His approach to design is very much aligned with ours, and we knew that we could incorporate our values as a brand into an exceptional line of sunglasses that will protect you on every adventure. ↓

Half front view of Bryce in Brushed Gold juxtaposed with other half front view original drawing Bryce drawing

“I’ve always loved working with AETHER,” says Rose, founder and lead designer at ROSE & CO.. “They’re very hands on and want to get involved with what’s being created. Jonah [Smith, co-founder] and Palmer want to know the nuances and the ‘why’ around design decisions. I love working with people that want that knowledge.”

Over the past 18 months, the team explored many different ideas and directions, and established the best materials and where to manufacture. ↓

Man wearing Yosemite sunglasses sitting in driver side of vehicle in the middle of California sand dunes
“We were really keen on making the frames in Japan,” says Rose. “The attention to detail is unrivaled.”
Arches sunglass sitting on dashboard of car with sand dunes in the background

The aviator-style glasses (Arches and Bryce) are made from medical grade, hypoallergenic titanium, and are built to withstand the elements while delivering an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.

The acetate for the Yosemite and Sequoia frames was sourced from Japan. We selected a natural, sustainable acetate made from cotton and wood pulp which is designed to hold its shape while showcasing the tortoise patterns and colors more vividly. ↓

Studio photo of Bryce in Brushed Gold against black background
Yosemite sunglass in Honey in studio

“We can’t avoid being the product nerds that we are,” says West. “We wanted to bring some of the features of our brand, such as our pocket notch details and the logomark, into the sunglasses in a subtle but unmistakable way.”

Rose opted for polarized lenses, which offer UV protection and are perfect for protecting your eyes from the bright sun and snow. ↓

Woman wearing Arches sunglass opening back cargo of vehicle
Closeup view of Sequoia sunglasses in Tortoise


“[Polarized lenses] are good for the eyes, they minimize glare, and they are meant to be used in different elements,” he said.

“Polarized lenses always give you clearer, more accurate vision while reducing glare,” adds AETHER co-founder Jonah Smith. “This helps you stay aware of your surroundings during all of your outdoor adventures.”

The lenses are oleophobic and dust-resistant, meaning you can bring them in and out of their case without worrying about smudges and fingerprints. There is also an anti-reflective coating on the back of the lenses which virtually eliminates reflective light bouncing off the back of them and into your eyes. ↓

Making these glasses was an exercise in precision for AETHER. In outerwear, West explains, “1/4 of an inch can change the whole fit, but success in optics comes down to millimeters.”
Original drawing of Bryce frame in profile

“It’s incredible how you can remove so little yet the impact is huge,” he says. “Appearance, function, how it rests on your face, all of those minuscule changes have a big effect. It’s like aeronautics.”

“You’re dealing with millimeters,” Rose emphasizes. “A single millimeter can make all the difference. Everyone’s face shape is different so you’re constantly trying to figure out how these things are going to fit and then removing the tiniest amount to get there.”

One reason why David and the AETHER team are so aligned is that we consider protecting your vision to be essential when embarking on adventures. If you are navigating hairpin turns in the rain or caught in a blizzard, having clear vision to make the right decisions in the moment can make all the difference. ↓

Video montage of man and woman wearing AETHER sunglasses in California sand dunes
Video montage of man and woman wearing AETHER sunglasses in California sand dunes

“People don’t realize that eyewear is actually a medical device,” says Rose. “That’s very much the way I look at it. We’re trying to make fashionable medical devices that protect your eyes, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.”

“This new category marks an exciting new chapter for AETHER,” says Smith. “We’re very proud to protect your vision as you explore the world.” •

Man wearing Yosemite sunglasses sitting on desert sand dune