Cazal sunglasses was the ultimate status symbol when it came to fashion accessories in the 80s. The eyewear of choice of many rappers and personalities during the decade, Cazal had the luxury of being called “the eyewear of hip-hop.”
While many in the 80s were flocking to Ray-Ban Sunglasses made famous by movies of the time, Cazal was gaining popularity in the hip hop community as the shades of choice.
At a time when hip-hop was emerging to be one of the hottest things to come out of the US during the 80s, Cazal’s association with hip-hop artists catapulted it to cult status. Fans and youngsters who wanted to look cool snatched the eyewear up from stores, and also literally from people on the street.
Cazal Sunglasses In The 80s
Cazal eyewear was founded in 1975 by Cari Zalloni, an Austrian/Italian/Greek who worked at Carrera Optyl, said to be the dominant force in eyewear at the time. Cazal is the combination of Cari Zalloni’s first syllables of his name and the designer wanted to create eyewear that stood out.
His designs were not the kind to go under the radar, but rather, the complete opposite. He wanted the eyewear to be bold and flashy, extravagant, and different, but also functional and of the highest quality.
Even though the company was founded in 1975, it wasn’t until 1982 when Darryl McDaniels of the famous hip-hop group, Run DMC, wore the Cazal 607s that made the brand popular in the US.
As soon as the MC was seen wearing the thick-framed, square-bottomed, oversized glasses, Cazal quickly became one of the most sought-after and highly-coveted eyewear in the country.
Cazals were characterized by their chunky thick frames, geometric shapes, and intricate details that made it hard for other manufacturers to copy. There were at least 50 details in each pair, and about 35 processes are undergone to ensure high quality and attention to detail.
Cazal eyewear wasn’t just fashionable, but they were incredibly durable and resembled pieces of art rather than regular eyewear.
Other famous personalities that wore Cazals in the 80s included Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Junior, and director Spike Lee.
MC Hammer also made the eyewear brand even more famous by wearing the Cazal 858 in his “Can’t Touch This,” music video. Though Cazal eyewear fetched around $500 a pair, they were flying off the shelves, and reports of people literally snatching the glasses off the wearer’s faces on the streets were rampant in New York and Philadelphia.
To further cement the cult following of the eyewear brand, a musical group called Cazal Boys was formed, which recorded a single called “Snatching Cazals” in 1985.
Another popular Cazal model was the 821, which consisted of mismatched lenses, which was unheard of at the time. Cazal was the only brand to produce this kind of glasses, and it was a testament to the brand’s dedication to creating extravagant designs with an uncompromising approach to aesthetics and quality.
Are Cazal Sunglasses Still Popular?
Though not as popular as they were in the 1980s, Cazal sunglasses can still be found today. Celebrities like Jay-Z, Kanye West, and other hip hop icons from time to time can be seen wearing the iconic shades.
Even though their popularity has waned, Cazal eyewear spearheaded the idea that eyewear doesn’t have to be boring and functional. Eyewear can be used as a medium for self-expression and individuality, and the 1980s desire for boldness and loudness matched the energy of the brand.
Each Cazal pair was always made with statement frames with a high recognition value. It became a status symbol among young people in urban cities in the 80s, and to this day, artists, musicians, and famous personalities can be seen donning Cazals.
Cazal eyewear wasn’t the first brand to make bold designs but it was the first brand to have a cult following in the US, as well as representing the notion of accessories as a status symbol. And it remains an 80s fashion trend that we recognize changed eyewear forever.