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Are Designer Sunglasses Worth the Price?

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by glych t.anomaly, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    Are Designer Sunglasses Worth the Price? - WSJ.com

    Are you in the market for a new pair of designer sunglasses this summer?

    It's the season for it, and you can spend hundreds of dollars on your next pair of shades. Some Prada and Bulgari pairs will run you nearly $500, and that's if you don't need prescription lenses. Even more moderate design labels like Ray-Ban or REVO can cost a couple of hundred bucks.

    Designer shades are big business, even in this economy. I keep hearing about the new age of frugality, but I'm not seeing much of it at the mall. Sunglass Hut's same-store sales in the U.S. rose 10.8% in the first quarter, pretty much erasing the slump in early 2009.

    But are these expensive brands worth it? How much better are they, really, than the $25 pairs you can get in your local pharmacy?

    Before you spend big money on your next pair of designer shades, here are six things you should know.

    1. Most sunglasses are made by the same company. Do you prefer the "quality" of Ray-Ban to Oakley? Do you think Bulgari is better than Dolce & Gabbana, or Salvatore Ferragamo is better than Prada? Wake up. They're all made by one company, Italian manufacturer Luxottica–one of the biggest consumer companies that consumers have never heard of. Luxottica also makes sunglasses branded Burberry, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, Tiffany, Versace, Vogue, Persol, Miu Miu, Tory Burch and Donna Karan.

    "We manufacture about 70% of those brands in our factories in Italy, and the balance in America and China," says Luxottica spokesman Luca Biondolillo. "We do the design, the manufacturing, and the marketing," he adds. The company makes most of those brands under license, working closely with designers at the relevant fashion houses. But it owns several brands itself, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples and REVO.

    2. In many cases, the same company is also selling you the glasses. Luxottica also owns LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut. This is extreme vertical integration. The eye doctor telling you that you need a new pair of glasses, the sales people helping you choose them and the people who design and make the glasses all work for the same company. Make of it what you will. But if your financial advisor was actually employed by the mutual fund company that he recommended for your portfolio, you'd at least want to know.

    3.The markups are as big as they seem. Whenever I have bought a new pair of regular eyeglasses, I have always reflected on how little I seem to get for my money. I can sort of understand why lenses are so expensive, as the material has to be made and ground precisely. But $100 or $200 for frames? These are bits of metal or molded plastic. Once I bought tiny slivers of hollow titanium that weighed considerably less than the bills I was handing over.

    The cost of a new pair of glasses will of course reflect materials and labor. But the price will also reflect brand values and marketing–and how much consumers will pay. Luxottica says it makes a gross profit of 64 cents on each dollar of sales. Even after deducting sales and advertising costs, overhead and brand licensing royalties it's still making 52 cents. That's some margin.

    While the company's return on equity has fallen since the global economy turned down, last year it still managed a respectable 11%, according to data from FactSet Research Systems. A few years ago that number was as high as 20%. And investors are confident on the company's future. The stock has jumped from $13 to $25 from last year's market lows. It's about 20 times likely earnings, an optimistic rating.

    4. Those expensive sunglasses may not be any better for your eyes, either. "Three hundred dollar sunglasses don't do anything better than $100 sunglasses, except maybe look better and have a brand name associated with them" says Dr. Jay Duker, chair of ophthalmology at Tufts Medical Center.

    "A significant chunk of what you pay for isn't the quality of the lenses, it's the brand," adds Dr. Reza Dana, director of the cornea and refractive surgery service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He notes that making lenses that offer protection against harmful ultra-violet rays "isn't very expensive technology." And while spending more may get you better quality frames, here, too, there are laws of diminishing returns.

    For about $40, says Dr. Duker, you can get a pair that offers 100% protection against ultra-violet rays. If you spend maybe $70 you should be able to get a pair with decent quality polarizing lenses that cut out glare. Beyond that, the medical benefits tail off pretty fast.

    5. An inexpensive pair of sunglasses from the pharmacy isn't the worst thing in the world. They may be fine for most people in most circumstances, Dr. Dana says. "The main reason people wear sunglasses is to block out (regular) white light," he says, "and from that point of view, cheaper glasses work pretty well." And they will probably block most UV rays, even if not all of them, he adds.

    6. Those fancy glasses are really costing you a lot more than you realize. If you make your shades last for many years, that would be one thing. But who does that? The people who want designer items want the latest fashion each year. And then there are the pairs that get lost. Scratched at the beach. And sat on. Personally, I have come to consider sunglasses a disposable item, and I suspect I am not alone.

    Over a lifetime these things add up. Indeed they compound. Even at, say, 4% interest, $200 a year over 50 years adds up to $30,000.


    Hrrrmmm, i need to get some new sunglasses, and this was an interesting read.

    but i have a couple of more questions.

    how are prescription Sunglasses compared to just regular sunglasses, and i mean in respect to lense quality.

    often i find that alot of sunglasses magnify what i am seeing some to a point where its almost uncomfortable, and i dont enjoy wearing them as they are forcing my eyes to see things differently than i normally would.

    i dont need glasses, but am curious as to whether prescription lenses would strain my eyes less than if i was to get just a normal pair of sunglasses..

    anyone know anything about this?

  2. octo

    octo TRIBE Member

    perscription sunglasses are for people that need it. it's not an alternative to non perscription lenses.

    considering i'd regularly lose or break my sunglasses my limit used to be $20. but it got to the point that i needed perscription sunglasses specially for driving.

    not every frame can take perscription lenses and usually the cool looking ones cannot be fitted with perscription lenses. it took me a while to find frames that i liked. 2 years ago i ended up paying $100 for a pair of hugo boss frames at costco. the lenses cost me an extra $80. they're still in good shape but i'm going to start looking around for some lighter frames.
  3. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    i was more wondering if i could get maybe glass lenses vs plastic lenses, and if there are benefits to doing so etc.

    and if glass magnifies your vision less, does the lesser strain make them better for your eyes.

    thus hopefully protecting my eyes from damage and straining them in the least amount possible.

  4. Dirty Girl

    Dirty Girl TRIBE Member

    I wouldnt pay more than 10 bones for a pair of sunglasses.
    unless i was filthy rich then i would buy designer.
  5. saskboy

    saskboy TRIBE Member

    Spied a little thing and I followed her all night
    In a funky fine levis and her sweater's kind of tight
    She had a west coast strut that was as sweet as molasses
    But what really knocked me out was her cheap sunglasses

    Now go out and get yourself some big black frames
    With the glass so dark they won't even know your name
    And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes:
    Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses
  6. basilisk

    basilisk TRIBE Member

    $10 or $20 is my limit and I usually buy 3 or 4 pairs at a time. It's too easy to lose or break sunglasses to want to spend insane amounts of money on a pair.
  7. defazman

    defazman TRIBE Member

    is designer anything worth the price?
  8. Maui

    Maui TRIBE Member

    If you are in the sun a lot then it is worth it like the article says to buy about a $100 pair of shades. But then you want something that looks good so you might wanna pay more for designer ones. And they'll come with a case so you keep them safely in there. It's not that hard not breaking/losing them, same as taking care of your cell phone.

    During high risk activities you pull out the fake designer ones and your good to go.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  9. derek

    derek TRIBE Member

    for outdoor sport about 20 bones (i break at least one pair every year, except the current pair, which i've had for two). for hanging, working, driving, just chillin' in the sun, it's ray-ban aviators. i've had 2 pairs in 20 years. the most recent, i'm fairly certain the lenses are plastic (substantially lighter than my previous pair, which i actually still have). imo, well with the $150.00 i spent on them when they prices works out to about $15/yr.
  10. Sal De Ban

    Sal De Ban TRIBE Member

    i got some killer Gucci shades at mac's milk. they must be crazy selling them off for $10!!!
  11. graham

    graham Well-Known TRIBEr

    I got HD vision ultra glasses along with my shoedinis, and believe me they were worth every penny.
  12. Sal De Ban

    Sal De Ban TRIBE Member

    interesting trades considered?
  13. solacevip

    solacevip TRIBE Promoter

    Personally....this is from my experience of working at Sunglass Hut (which later was bought by Luxottica while working there), I would only pay money for Maui Jims, Oakley, glass lensed Revo.....those brands have better visual acuity than the fashion brands IMO.

    Designer brands are designer brands. You pay for the name and style.....that's it.

    At one point in time I owned 20 pairs of shades.....some functional some for fashion.....but rarely do you find both at the same time.

    Crappy lenses have distortion in the lens which makes your eyes work hard to continually maintain focus when wearing them. Ever get a headache after wearing shitty shades?

    For me...Oakley still gets my vote.

    Impact Protection


  14. kat

    kat TRIBE Member

    i recently bought a pair of raybans and they were expensive (100$) but i do enjoy the quality of them.

    cheap sunglasses are fine, but they wear down pretty fast.
    - the screws would loosen easily and i would have to re-attach the arms every so often
    - the paint would chip off and get on my face/ears/neck
    - some that claimed to offer uv protection obviously did not
    - i would get headaches if i wore them for too long
    - they were pretty flimsy in weight, much more likely to get bashed around and become unbalanced or crack/snap.

    i think people investing in crazy-expensive designer sunglasses are aware they are paying mostly for a brand name and design..but they are still a significant step up from street vendor pairs.
    drugstore sunglasses aren't even that cheap anymore. 30-40$..and a lot of them aren't exactly stylish. they are supposed to go on your face after all.

    maybe its all just a big fashion industry conspiracy ;p
  15. derek

    derek TRIBE Member

    i won't jump on the all designers are crap bandwagon. cut & style do make a difference. you just have to be a smart buyer and make the most of your purchases. sun glasses included. stay within your budget too.

    me looking all serious at the british museum in the rays.

  16. sheik rock

    sheik rock TRIBE Member

    There is a difference between cheap sunglasses and junk sunglasses from the drug store. MEC has pretty good quality sunglasses for $20, they aren't the most stylish but they are the same quality as most of the expensive ones.

    I have bought some junky ones when I forgot my glasses at home and I was going to be in the sun all day, they are usually crap and hurt your eyes.
  17. MissBlu

    MissBlu TRIBE Member

    do not get a prescription if you don't need it.

    i have cheap sunglasses and i have my more expensive Smith ones... i use the Smith ones the most - they are pretty awesome. i actually just bought a double of the same ones off of e-bay.
  18. kirstenmeows

    kirstenmeows TRIBE Member

    Until I got to the point where prescription lenses were a must and not an option, I never spent more than $20.00 on a pair of sunglasses. They always found their way to the bottom of a lake at least twice per summer. I've tried transitions lenses multiple times, and they never seem to get dark enough, so now I go with the clip-ons. They've come a long way in the past few years, and aren't quite the fuddy duddy thingies that they used to be. At least I'm much more careful, and haven't lost any in the last few years.

    That said, I will never understand anyone spending anything close to $500.00 for a pair of sunglasses.
  19. JamesM

    JamesM TRIBE Member

    totally. only had 2 pairs of shades I've ever liked. oh, and Corey Hart is playing sunglasses at night is playing right now, so having said that,

    I don't know I had some $10 beer store shades which were great, broke eventually due to human error, and before that some fake Oakley's off the street which lasted a long time.
  20. Bumbaclat

    Bumbaclat TRIBE Member

    yes they are worth it.
  21. JamesM

    JamesM TRIBE Member

    why, b/c Gucci sunglasses can get you laid? I'm sure there are way more obscure band names, better quality. cheaper cost.
  22. kirstenmeows

    kirstenmeows TRIBE Member

    No names on them equals no worries about labels. I did however, get a good chuckle out of a girl who was wearing glasses labeled PRADO. I really hope for her sake that she was oblivious.
  23. deevah

    deevah TRIBE Member

    all along the spectrum - from vintage to H&Ms, oakleys to gucci's

    Although I have/had ones that were wroth every penny incl a regretfully lost pair by JPG that were eiffel tower inspired (i still sniff at the thought of these) and the Ferragamo's that have some interesting wicker work. Play $300+ for plastic is ridiculous but for some craftsmanship with great lenses? Psssshhhh - I wouldn't even flinch. Appalled the Tom Ford's I wanted were quoted $370-$440 so I found them online for $200.

    Sad I just lost a pair of Gucci's I had for 10 yrs+...I once had a pair with custom lenses the most perfect shade of green before they fell out of the car. Even with the custom lenses they were <$180 for metal frames and glass lens.

    loved my mirrored T2 Ray-Ban aviators as well - definitely a difference with these lenses. Always prefer glass >>> plastic lenses.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  24. JamesM

    JamesM TRIBE Member

    Sorry to insert some trolly insert. But I've been bitching that our 2 newish 100k directors at work, fucking wear their designer shirts and aviators IN THE office.

    and they don't do shit on a stick. subsequently, from todays news, they're not being renewed after their contract is done in a couple months. thank god. But they're the coolest cats, seriously.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  25. JamesM

    JamesM TRIBE Member

    Again, my best shades ever costed $10 buckarooneys.

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