About this project
MagLock prototypes pass the Slingshot test: 62mph. 27 stories in the air. Upside down.
Lost sunglasses. Scratched lenses. Uncomfortable straps.
Anyone who has owned a pair of sunglasses understands these frustrations– which is why we invented MagLock™
With fully embedded neodymium magnets, MagLock Sunglasses are easy to mount on anything magnetic, and also (more importantly) less likely to drop or misplace. It's a simple solution for an everyday problem– exactly why we started Distil Union 6 years ago.
Your sunglasses are the ultimate go-anywhere accessory– making them hard to keep safe and hard to keep track of. Past solutions to this problem left you with two choices:
- Clutter your expensive glasses with uncomfortable and unflattering "sunglass straps"
- Resort to the endless cycles of cheaply made "disposable" sunglasses that risk not providing your eyes with the true benefits of protection
After he lost his most expensive pair of sunglasses, our co-founder Nate Justiss was fed up and finally had an a-ha moment. And with that, we set out to design an elegant solution made to satisfy the picky minimalist. We've spent 6 years in development to get it right, and now we want to share it with you.
How did we solve dropped and lost sunglasses? Magnets hidden in the arms secure your glasses to your shirt, bag, and any magnetic surface. And with flexible, unbreakable shape-memory frames, and our super strong, anti-scratch lenses, you don't have to worry about breaking your MagLock Sunglasses. Finally you can feel as carefree not wearing your sunglasses as you do wearing them.
If MagLock Sunglasses stay put in our tests, you know they're good to go– from your daily commute, to your next outdoor adventure.
MagLock™ is our all new patent-pending design with neodymium magnets incorporated into the arms of the frame. The magnets are completely integrated so that no surface meets your skin (safe for those with nickel allergies), and the magnets themselves will be free of surface wear, scratching or corrosion.
- MagLock™ secures your glasses to your shirt or bag, and will stay in place any magnetic surface
- Face friendly soft-touch materials for comfort and non-slip fit
- Lightweight, flexible frame comfortably hugs your head
- Durable high-performance material with shape memory: MagLock Sunglasses are made to last
- 100% UVA and UVB protection
- Polarized core reduces glare and eye strain
- Anti-reflective interior
- Scratch-resistant exterior and interior
PSA: Sunglasses are good for you! The American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated July as "UV Safety Awareness Month." Protecting your eyes isn’t just for the summer months– UV light contributes to macular degeneration, cataracts and other eye complications. Cheap sunglasses falsely claiming to protect against UV let even more of the harmful UV rays into your dilated pupils, potentially causing more damage than not wearing sunglasses at all.
We've sourced premium UV400 lenses, which block 100% of UVA and UVB rays, plus a polarized core and anti-reflective coating to further reduce glare and eye strain.
Sunnies are notoriously difficult to keep track of, and the best pair really are the ones you have with you. That’s why we’ve designed these sunglasses to be the most comfortable sunglasses to wear and the most difficult to lose.
Folly: The Laidback Seafarer in a classic wayfarer-style with keyhole bridge. Named after Folly Beach, Charleston’s surf-haven at the “Edge of America.” After the Kickstarter, you can choose from 4 matte colors: Black, Gray, Kelp and Surf.
Sullivan: The Modern Aviator in a lightweight with iconic double bridge. Named after Sullivan’s Island, home of Charleston’s surprisingly modern lighthouse. After the Kickstarter, you can choose from 4 matte colors: Black, Gray, Marine and Sand.
We've considered the entire package, down to... well, the package! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We designed a collapsible hard case and soft lens-cleaning cloth sleeve, included with every pair to help keep your Distil Sunglasses protected and scratch-free.
Instead of a box that will just be thrown away, Distil Sunglasses are packaged in an innovative hardshell case that folds completely flat. Based on the original design by Tom Davies (British bespoke-glasses creator and all-around swell guy), our take is inspired by the Apple iPad Cover: Durable fabric case with soft-touch lining, finished with heat-sealed edges for a clean, modern look.
These cases are so useful and unique, we've made them available as a separate pledge level to use with any glasses up to 142mm x 55mm. Keep your other sunglasses or prescription glasses scratch-free and protected in your bag.
In 2011, Nate lost the most expensive pair of sunglasses he’d ever bought. He was determined never to lose a pair of glasses again. It was the year we founded Distil Union, and Nate disappeared into the workshop and hacked together a simple fix using a pair of shades he didn’t really care about messing up.... and guess what? He hasn't lost that DIY pair, 6 years later. The tweak worked. His determination paid off.
A huge perk about having a workshop is that we can create hacks that make a difference in our own lives #makersgonnamake. Beyond making and hacking, we have over a decade of experience in actual large scale mass-market manufacturing. So for years we've been working hard to develop a manufacturing technique to produce these problem-solving shades on a larger scale. And the best thing about Kickstarter is the chance to bring those life-simplifying products to other people’s lives!
How does this simple, integrated solution not already exist?! We've asked ourselves the same question– and one reason they haven’t been made yet is because it’s not easy (as we've learned). Other attempts have been made to solve this problem, of course, but for us they all miss the mark. Each and every one requires that you use something in addition to the glasses, which goes against one of our fundamental beliefs:
The Distil Union mission is to simplify your life and distil your everyday. Our products are simply functional, and made to satisfy the picky minimalist. Only an elegant, integrated solution will do– so we’ve spent years in development to get it right:
- MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUES We learned different methods of how glasses are manufactured by going straight to the sources. Then, because we’re designing for a new functionality in sunglasses, we took a completely fresh approach to the materials and construction. We asked ourselves: What materials or construction methods might not be considered "standard" but actually work better to solve the problem?
- MATERIAL SELECTION It was important to us that we understand the material properties best suited not just for functionality, but also for ideal comfort and fit. Lightweight and durable, made of face-friendly soft touch materials for comfort and non-slip wearing. Instead of hard frames that hurt your head or slide off your nose, we've designed them to be the most comfy frames to grace your face.
- FUNCTION + FIT FOR ALL Rather than producing a bunch of seasonal frames, we are focused on the optimum fit in two shapes: The wayfarer-style and the aviator are timeless, unisex styles that suit all faces.
Our manufacturing partners know their craft. Lindsay and Nate toured their facilities earlier this year and worked with them face-to-face to develop our unique frames. They produce eyeglasses for premium brands and are one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-end acetate frames. We wish we could take you on a tour of their place (so large it takes a golf cart to get around). It is one of the most pristine and highest-tech, vertically integrated factories we've ever been to. With their backing, we're confident we can deliver an on-time and quality product.
Timelapse of Nate assembling an early 3D-printed prototype. The lenses are from our manufacturing partner, and fit perfectly into the models. After finding the right sized screws, we were able to wear and test these like normal sunglasses.
Seeing how people react when they try our prototypes has been oh so satisfying, and we’re ready to go from prototype into production. Our goal is to deliver the most comfortable, long-lasting sunglasses you’ve ever owned. And with your help, we can finally get our patent-pending design out into the world.
Please keep in mind that Kickstarter is not a traditional store. Backing us means you're pledging your support because you believe in our design and our ability to deliver (as we have on all our previous 6 Kickstarters). As a way to say thank you! for believing in us, you get a massive discount and first access to the new product, as well as updates along the way as our production journey continues beyond this campaign.
Distil Union is a micro-collective of designers and design-lovers in Charleston, SC who are having fun (and working hard) creating solutions to real-life problems. Our incentive to innovate comes from a deep desire to create helpful objects that people love.
In 2011, we joined together (Union, get it?) to create the products we want to see on the shelves. Selfish? Perhaps. Exciting? You bet your pants it is! Entirely self-funded on a bootstrap budget, we launched our first product on Kickstarter in 2012. After working in the “big-box retail” industry for so long, it was a rush being part of the dynamic crowdfunding community that allowed us as designers to connect directly with customers, users, backers – you. And that was it, we were hooked.
Since our first Kickstarter in 2012, thousands of Distil Union goods have been shipped to 101 countries, including 5,141 on-time Kickstarter pledges to 3,150 Backers. We’re lucky to have been on our life-simplifying mission now for six years, and with six successful campaigns under our belt, this will be our 7th Kickstarter. Our company and products have been featured in:
To bring these sunglasses to life, we're seeking the funding needed to pay for tooling. We’ve come so far, but we can’t do this alone– will you pledge your support, or help us spread the word? Use the links up top, or here – easy buttons!
Credits: With so much gratitude to all who made this possible
Video and Editing Gavin Shelton
Portrait Photography Leslie Ryann McKellar
3D Printing Meadors, Shapeways, MakerBot
Nate Justiss Co-Founder and Industrial Designer
Lindsay Windham Co-Founder and Art Director
Mary Streeter Design and Marketing
Julia Simpson Community Manager
Rebecca Pollett Customer Support
Matilda Four-Legged Modeling
David Rosenblatt Business Strategist
Troy Jackson Licensing Advisor
Josh Goldstein Sales Support
Dr. Wes Shealy Optometrist
Role Models Joel Sadler, Allyson Sutton, Ryan Cockrell, Graham Wimberly, Julie Wimberly, Ivan Lima, Zach Aument, Karen Ann Myers, Rhiannon Bode, Tori Rosenblatt, Lauren Johnston, Paul Rich, Greg Finch, Thomas Sweeney, and Riki Matsuda.
Risks and challenges
Together we’ve been in the product business for well over a decade, and we know that surprises can and will happen along the way. Luckily, with that experience we've learned ways to minimize risk:
+ working closely with trusted manufacturers
+ setting comfortable schedules that allow for hiccups and setbacks
+ doing thorough work in advance (our due diligence as designers)
+ applying what we've learned in six successful campaigns
We have a reassuring track record of successful product launches with on-time delivery– this is our 7th Kickstarter! Take a look at our past campaigns for the votes of confidence that we're going to design something useful, execute it well, and get it to you when we say we will, with informed communication along the way.
Distil Union's best-selling products exist today thanks to the generosity and gumption of the Kickstarter community. Many thanks and highest fives!
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