PEI

Striking vintage treasure: P.E.I. sunglasses company revives '80s brand

What's old is new again quite literally for Fellow Earthlings, a small bespoke eyewear company based in rural Guernsey Cove, P.E.I. — it's now selling sunglasses manufactured on the Island in the 1980s.

'It feels like it was meant to be'

Sydney (left) and Chris Seggie in their Fellow Earthlings sunglasses workshop in Guernsey Cove, P.E.I. Sydney recently gave birth to the couple's 3rd child. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings)

What's old is new again quite literally for Fellow Earthlings, a small bespoke eyewear company based in rural Guernsey Cove, P.E.I. — it's now selling sunglasses manufactured on the Island in the 1980s.

The company lucked in to a U-Haul full of vintage sunglasses with metal frames covered in leather, made by Tannereye, a factory in the West Royalty business park that manufactured glasses in the 80s, making frames for large companies including Ralph Lauren and Ray-Ban. 

It is truly a vintage product, and a special story.— Sydney Seggie, Fellow Earthlings

"It's really cool to get our hands on these, and be able to let everybody else see them too" explained Sydney Seggie, who owns Fellow Earthlings with her husband Chris. 

"We were so excited to have this opportunity to bring it back, it's kind of our prequel."

The couple is marketing the sunglasses under their original brand, Canadian Sunglasses. They come covered in several different leather colours, in a collection of four aviator styles.

'Perfect time'

The Seggies hope to tap into the current 1980s revival and consumers' love of all things vintage cool and locally-made.

These aviator-style sunglasses are being sold at Holt Renfrew as part of the ‘Uncrate Canada’ collection celebrating the nation's 150th birthday. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings )

"It was the perfect time for the product to come back," Seggie opined.

Tannereye closed in the early 1990s after the death of its owner, but the sunglasses were kept in pristine condition in storage by Firouz Ahgdasi of Charlottetown, who had been exporting them to the Middle East. 

Aghdasi was pleased to pass the torch — and all of his new old stock — to the Seggies, he said, as he was always very proud of the quality of the sunglasses.

'Incredibly interesting'

"We'd been asking if anyone knew about it for a while, or any of the old stock," Seggie shared. 

'It's really cool to get our hands on these,' says Fellow Earthlings's Sydney Seggie of these vintage Canadian sunglasses. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings )

"We'd never gotten a chance to really look at any, and it is so incredibly interesting as, I guess, eyewear nerds, to have had this history on P.E.I."

The couple never dreamed they'd have the opportunity to revive the brand. 

"We always wanted to see some, and to see some in any quantity was really something special," she added. "It was great to get the opportunity work on something as classic as a brand called Canadian, made here on the Island in the 80s, it's a pretty special thing." 

The cache contained old marketing materials and prototypes, Seggie shared, which were "just a dream to get to go through." 

"It was really a treasure hunt, to go through all of the boxes," she said. 

'Piece of P.E.I. history'

Seggie discovered Tannereye employed dozens of people, and said she thinks the company's story should be told and celebrated. She's posted some of its advertising and photos of employees on the Canadian sunglasses website

In the boxes of vintage leather-and-metal framed sunglasses, the Seggies found the manufacturer's colour swatches from the 1980s. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings )

"Such incredible product came out of there, it's a cool old story, a piece of P.E.I. history." 

The sunglasses are now available on thecanadiansunglasses.com and range from $250 to $500. 

Celebrate Canada's 150 

Holt Renfrew's H Project boutiques in Vancouver, Calgary, and Bloor, Yorkdale, and Square One in Toronto carry one Canadian style, Rainbow, for $250.

Some vintage advertising from Tannereye Sydney Seggie found in the boxes of sunglasses Fellow Earthlings purchased. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings)

The H Project features artisanal products using unique materials, and one season a year, its boutiques sell products from a different global region that "relies heavily on traditional craftsmanship as a form of livelihood."

This year, in celebration of this country's 150th and Holt's 180th birthdays, that global region is Canada.

"The height of luxury is to have a well-made, beautiful product where you know exactly who touched it, how many hands, their stories, and what materials were used," Holt's website stated. 

Limited quantity

The stock of sunglasses the Seggies purchased is finite, she said, and Fellow Earthlings won't reproduce them again in future, which makes them essentially a limited edition. 

A rare group photo of some of Tannereye's employees outside the factory building in West Royalty, P.E.I., is posted on the website for the revived Canadian sunglasses. (Submitted by Fellow Earthlings )

"It is truly a vintage product, and a special story," said Seggie, explaining some of the stock they purchased still requires assembly — so it was serendipitous that they fell into the hands of eyewear manufacturers.

"It feels like it was meant to be," she concluded. 

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca

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