Three years ago brothers Andrew and Christopher Shalhoub embarked on a weekend road-trip to Maine that sparked an idea that would set them on a path of creating a new business. With engineering backgrounds and five hours in the car, they brainstormed about their new concept. After two years of research and development, they officially released their first pair of Parkman Sunglasses on July 4th, 2014.
Named for the town in Maine that inspired them, the sunglasses start from rough cut lumber from select mills and local lumberyards near their shop in Mountainside, New Jersey. After planing and squaring up with a combination of hand tools and industrial tools the wood is milled, veneered, engraved, sanded and finished.
A small team of five, it’s clear that the team at Parkman takes their commitment to craftsmanship seriously. I asked Andrew what aspects of Parkman he was most proud of: “We make everything ourselves in our shop in New Jersey, which gives us control of the quality, workmanship, and the design process.”
I loved the fit and finish of these sunglasses. With an aircraft grade birch core, the multiple layers of wood are 1/16th of an inch thick. This creates a pair of frames that are strong, durable, and lightweight. The softness of the wood creates a silky feel that you can just tell came from hand working. The ordering process allows you to select the wood and the color tint of the lenses. You get to customize your specs to your specs.
I loved the spring hinges because I didn’t feel like I had to baby them. I received compliments and questions about them everywhere I wore them, “They really go well with your beard!”
The wood is never stained, each pair retains its own natural wood color. Each pair is completely unique, giving you a one-of-a-kind experience. They are wearable art. 100% handmade. 100% American.
Each pair comes with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are the sort of luxury item that once you have you can never go without. Polarization creates a special filter that blocks intense light and reduces both glare and haze.
Not sure about the wood? Parkman offers several models that are acetate as well. They use premium natural cellulose acetate that is a plant-based plastic made from cotton and wood fibers. It is hypoallergenic, strong, lightweight and flexible. The acetate lenses from Parkman come with a lifetime warranty. Sunglasses can also be ordered with prescription lenses.
Parkman is always pushing the limits of creativity. Check out their ultra-cool limited edition shades made from vinyl records, slate, and exotic woods such as zebra wood and leopard wood. Late this summer keep an eye out for their next project: Sunglasses made from wood they sourced from musical instrument companies.
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