Many years ago, in May of 1997 in fact, Jonathan of the U2 Station received an email from a serious "Fly" shade fanatic by the name of Peter Govaars. At the time, he was trying to complete his vast collection of "Fly" glasses, by searching for the "one" and original 1960's sunglasses. In 2001, he got in touch with Jonathan again and included four photographs of sunglasses from his own collection. It is unknown whether Peter has found his precious Fly shades as of yet. You may read the full original emails for further information and insight. Below is Peter's original articles and his own photographs from his collection.
U2 Fly Glasses
These glasses are the ones that the U2 organization offered through Propaganda magazine to its members back in the early 1990's, shortly after Achtung Baby came out. While not the real "Fly" glasses that Bono wears, they are U2 authorized merchandise. Since they are no longer manufactured, they do have some value as a collectors item. Original cost: roughly $15 U.S.
Like the real "Fly" glasses, these glasses are injection molded from a single piece of plastic. They have a dark green hue, and have no hinges. They say "Fly" on the temples just past the lenses, and have "© 1993 NOT US LTD." and "LICENSED U2 PRODUCT MADE IN IRELAND" molded into the inside of the temples. The glasses are very tight, and pinch your head pretty badly. The quality of the lenses is pretty poor, and as a consequence makes the world look rippled and warpy when you look through them. As a result, they give you a pretty good headache in about 10 minutes, and are therefore a novelty/collectors item at best.
The major way in which you can tell these glasses from real "Fly" glasses is by the sharp corners in the design: the top of the nose bridge and the temples on the side form distinct V shapes rather than smooth curves. The back part of the temple is also much pointier than the real "Fly" glasses.
Infinit WOW Glasses
These glasses are the most "Fly" like in appearance of any commercial pair of sunglasses I have found. They are also phenomenal, and I wear them all the time. The optics are fantastic, and the frames are very light and comfortable. Unfortunately, the company that makes them (Infinit, www.infinitnet.com) is headquartered in Brazil, and doesn't have a distributor in the U.S.. Consequently, folks here in America and Canada will have to E-Mail and send money via Western Union directly to Brazil in order to get a pair. And they aren't cheap: $130 per pair, and an additional $60 shipping. I ordered 3 pair to save some shipping costs... One pair I wear all the time, one pair I keep in reserve, and the third pair I gave as a Christmas present to a U2 fan that contacted me through your pages who couldn't afford to get a pair for her husband (A great story in its own right, but I digress...)
Unlike the real "Fly" glasses, and the U2 licensed pair, these glasses are constructed from separate frames and lenses, and have hinges. The style most like the real "Fly" glasses are the Infinit WOW BS (for "Black Shiny"). They are light, look good, and are extremely pleasing to look through. If there is any pair of look-a-like glasses that I have found that I would personally recommend, it would be these.
Real Purple Glasses
These glasses are the real deal, only light purple in color instead of the dark brown color worn by Bono. They date back to the 1960's and this particular pair was bought in an estate auction on E-Bay. As originally purchased, they were pretty scratched up, and had purple daisies painted all over them. A little restoration work brought them to the state you see here in the picture. Price as purchased on E-Bay: $110 plus about $10 shipping and insurance. Since the glasses are vintage, your best bet for finding them is in an auction or at a second hand or thrift shop (this is apparently how Bono's wardrobe person found them... in a thrift shop in SFO, if I have the story right.) The lenses are very large, and the optical quality can be almost anything, depending on how much abuse the glasses have had over the years.
These glasses are molded from a single piece of Lexan plastic (no hinges.) On the left temple near the back is the word "Italy" molded into the plastic, and both temples have a hole near the end. Colors include (obviously) purple, dark brown (like Bono's), fluorescent green and orange, and probably others as well.
Double Bubble Glasses
These glasses are enormous! I purchased them on-line through www.peepers.com, but you have to e-mail/talk to a representative, since the site doesn't list them anywhere. They are called "Double Bubbles", and are manufactured by a company called Blinde Optics. Apparently, the designer who created these is also the guy who did all the sunglasses for the movie the Matrix. Original cost: I think about $150 plus about $15 shipping.
Did I mention that they are enormous? Well they really are! Like the Infinit WOW glasses, these are made of a separate frame and lenses, and have hinges. The lenses are very high quality and the frame is light and comfortable. They are visibly different from real "Fly" glasses in that the taper from the lens to the temple is fairly severe (whereas the taper on the real "Fly" glasses is more gentle.) Because of their size, they require a daring individual to wear them in public... but the reward is very dark glasses with no light leaking in around the edges. The inside of the right temple has a metal logo plate with the word "Blinde" on it, as well as the signature of the designer. On the left temple are the words "CE Made in France" and the title of the glasses: "double bubble". They come in at least two styles (because I had to send my first pair back due to shipping damage, and the second pair pictured here are slightly different): Dark grey frames with reflective silver coated lenses, and black frames with dark green lenses.