The Perfect Shades? Custom-Fit Sunglasses from Skelmet - Appalachian Mountain Club

The Perfect Shades? Custom-Fit Sunglasses from Skelmet

September 13, 2017
Photo: Courtesy of SkelmetThe Falcon 1, pictured here with brown polarized lenses. Other lens colors are available.

Part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies.

There was a period in my life when I sold sunglasses. I helped hundreds of people try on thousands of different pairs of shades to find the best-fitting options and styles for their face. Which in turn required carefully phrased feedback to help them find the right options for their particular facial structure.

For example, the customer doesn’t have a squashed pug nose. They have a low bridge. The customer doesn’t have a giant schnoz either. They have a high bridge. And the customer doesn’t have a gigantic melon for a head. Their face is broad across the temples. Fat chipmunk cheeks = high cheek bones. And so on.

In addition to honing my retail diplomacy skills, my other big takeaway from the experience was that the human face and its various features come in an astonishingly diverse range of shapes and dimensions. This can make it challenging to find sunglasses that fit properly. (Here’s a primer on how sunglasses should fit in general.)

But what if you could order a pair that was custom built to the exact dimensions of your face? That’s the premise behind Skelmet, a small start-up based in Cambridge, Mass., that was recently highlighted in this Boston Globe article.

Using 3-D printing and scanning technology, Skelmet will construct a pair of their signature Falcon 1 sunglasses that perfectly fits your face and head.

This requires first obtaining a 3-D scan of your head, which certainly represents the most challenging part of the process—you’ll need either a portable 3-D scanner connected to a smartphone or tablet or a smartphone with a 3-D camera such as the iPhone 7 Plus. (Skelmet is reportedly also working with retailers to offer in-store scanning services as well.) Once you’ve got the technology, it takes about two minutes to capture your head and face. Skelmet is set to release an app next month to help with this process.

The scan is next plugged into Skelmet’s “A.I. Fit System” software, which generates a frame shape specific to your unique features. The frame is then built at a 3-D printing facility in New Jersey. Prices for the Falcon 1 range from $279 to $329 for non-prescription lenses and $499 to $579 for prescription options. It’s also worth noting that a pair of Falcon 1’s is exceptionally lightweight, tipping the scales at a mere 20 grams (less than an ounce).

The company is just getting off the ground as it transitions from a successful crowd funding campaign to a fledgling start-up, so it will take a few months at least before you can readily order a custom pair. But if you struggle to find a pair of shades that fits your uniquely perfect face, keep this company on your radar for the bright days of next spring and summer!

And lastly, as the word nerd I am, I enjoyed learning the following technical terms for facial features from the Globe article:

  • Sellion = the point where the nasal bridge meets the forehead
  • Zygion = the facial width between the ears

I will certainly add them to my retail spiel should I ever find myself selling shades once again!

Support your Northeast-based gear companies! Here are the 28 companies I’ve profiled over the years:

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.