The story of LiP Sunglasses began in 2012 in Boracay. LiP founders, Li Chen and Dirk Michielsen, both kiteboarders/windsurfers, wanted to protect their eyes against the harsh glare of the ocean, but found that there was nothing available on the market which offered quality functional eye protection and a retention system that worked flawlessly. Having lost various watersports sunglasses to the ocean, Li and Dirk decided to leverage their 20 years of experience in the eyewear industry by launching a new brand—LiP Sunglasses—to fill the void. Since its inception, the focus at LiP has always been on eye health by promoting quality, function and style. LiP’s co-owner, Graham Saunders, answers our questions about what makes LiP watershades unique.
LIP POSITIONS ITS LINE NOT AS AN EXTENSION OF A SPORT, BUT AS PROTECTION FOR YOUR HEALTH. PLEASE EXPLAIN.
In a style-conscious world, it is often forgotten that eyewear is primarily intended as a functional (as opposed to aesthetic) tool. The primary function of sunglasses is to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. When you are out on the water the risks to eye health increase dramatically with reflected UV, glare, wind and water spray from all directions. Wearing suitable eyewear on the water can dramatically reduce the chances of pterygium (surfer’s eye), cataracts and macular degeneration. LiP’s premium quality shatter-proof lenses, wrap-around unbreakable frames and a bombproof retention system ensure that our sunglasses not only protect your eyes incredibly well from the harsh effects of the sun and salt water, but also provide solid impact protection and protect the health of your pocket.
WHERE DID THE NAME LIP COME FROM? IS IT AN ACRONYM FOR SOMETHING?
The name “Lip” is simply borrowed from the term used to describe the uppermost part of a breaking wave. As LiP Sunglasses came into existence as a watersports eyewear company, the name succinctly embodies the roots of the brand.
FOR 2020, LIP IS OFFERING THREE WATERSPORTS MODELS. HOW WOULD YOU STEER USERS TO THE MODEL THAT WILL WORK BEST FOR THEM?
The Typhoon and the Surge are both designed for kiteboarding and windsurfing where strong winds, waves or chop are present. Neither the Typhoon nor Surge float, and this explains the presence of a retention mechanism. With our unique 2-stage retention system for these two models, wipeouts no longer mean losing your sunglasses to the ocean floor. In a wipeout, these sunglasses will stay with you no matter how hard you crash. Floating sunglasses are unsuitable to strong wind/wave conditions, as they can be extremely difficult to find after a wipeout. All our Surge and Typhoon models are currently polarized, but we have plans to phase in non-polarized lenses for both these models in the future.
The FLO is geared for more leisurely time on the water, where wind and wave conditions are gentler. The FLO is best suited for light wind foiling, sailing, and SUPing. As the FLO floats, there is no retention mechanism. In the event of a wipeout, it is simply a case of picking up the FLO from the water’s surface. The FLO is lightweight, strapless and unsinkable and comes with both polarized and non-polarized lenses with multiple mirror coating options.
ON A RECENT FACEBOOK SUNGLASS PROTECTION THREAD, USERS CONSISTENTLY RAVED ABOUT LIP FOR THE QUALITY OF ITS LENSES. WHAT MAKE LIP STAND APART FROM COMPETITORS?
From the outset, our mission was to create sunglasses that were not only functional but which stood the test of time. Strong sun and salt water create a challenging testing environment for any product to withstand, so from the outset we decided to co-brand with a leading lens manufacturer in Germany who had a long track record of producing high quality optics. ZEISS is renowned for premium quality lens materials, craftmanship and lens longevity.
In addition, all our watershades lenses (including those supplied by Zeiss) come equipped with premium layers and coatings to protect against harsh conditions, including hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings (to repel water droplets and dirt/dust), and an anti-scratch hard coating. The lenses are also de-centered to ensure there is no distortion in the peripheral vision which is essential for maintaining a watchful eye on objects moving in the periphery.
A final point about polarization, as most of our watershades come with polarized lenses. Many sunglasses brands use a polarizing ‘film’ coating on their lenses, which in the harsh ocean conditions mentioned above can lead to ‘delamination’ (peeling). This form of polarization is cheap and inherently unstable as salt water can easily penetrate the lens edges and lift the coating from the surface of the lens, sometimes within just a few weeks of first use. All of LiP’s polarized lenses are ‘injected’, meaning that the polarization layer is injected in the mold and completely sealed from the elements. As such, our polarized lenses will always stand the test of time.
LIP HAS RECENTLY INTRODUCED AN RX LINE TO THEIR WATERSHADES RANGE. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT LIP’S RX LINEUP AND WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THEM?
As LiP grew, we saw a surprising volume in RX enquiries. We decided to respond with our custom Watershades RX line in 2017. Our RX lab devised a highly responsive RX algorithm which overcomes the aberration and distortion common in 8-base (wrap-around) lenses. This algorithm (which remains a closely guarded secret) allows us to cater for strong prescriptions (up to power of +6 /-8) without any distortion. This capability to cater for very strong prescriptions is unique in the market.
We use NXTTM lens material instead of Zeiss for our RX lenses primarily because Zeiss is unable to cater for strong prescriptions for 8-base wrap-around frames. NXTTM is an incredibly strong and versatile material famed for its durability and impact resistance, both crucial requirements for watersports lenses.
Our RX lens choices include fixed tint, photochromic and polarized, and all come with anti-scratch, anti-reflection, hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings. There are mirror coating options available too. We have also just added our new Orion-X anti-fog coating as an option which is next level technology for sports eyewear which we have high hopes for.