Why are Designer Sunglasses so Expensive?

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I thought about this question as I was lounging and frolicking in an infinity swimming pool earlier this  year.  As I was getting chlorinated pool water splashed on my sunglasses (Ralph Lauren sunglasses that I bought a few years ago, I think they cost maybe $100?) some people in the pool started getting a little worried about chlorinated pool water getting on their sunglasses.  Some of their sunglasses were Chanel sunglasses or maybe it was Hugo Boss, or even Ray Bans.  These are the same people who all have Louis Vuitton wallets, Chanel purses, and Christian Loboutin shoes.  Maybe it's just me and how I don't really value material goods (or maybe I value them but I am just terrible at taking care of material goods), but I personally wouldn't get fussed about water getting on my sunglasses.  I am sure their sunglasses cost $300-$500 or maybe even more, but I would not buy $300 to $500 sunglasses in the first place.

I haven't had a new pair of sunglasses in a long time and have some extended health coverage for prescription sunglasses, so I thought, heck, why not max out my extended health benefits?  So I headed over to my local optician and got some snazzy designer sunglasses for free (thanks to my extended health) that would have normally cost me the aforementioned $300 to $500.  It even came with a fancy mock-leather pouch to put my sunglasses in.  I don't think I will be anxious or upset if chlorinated pool water got on it still, even though they are $300 to $500 because I didn't pay for them myself.  Perhaps if I forked out my own hard earned money for these (which I would never do in the first place) I would treat them differently.

So, back to the original question to this post.

Are Designer Sunglasses worth the Price?

Why are Designer Sunglasses so ExpensiveWell, long story short, I don't think so.  All of the designer sunglasses you see: Fendi, Tiffany and Company, Chanel, Bulgari, Burberry, Versace, Prada, Stella McCartney, Armani, and Dolce and Gabbana… they are all manufactured in Italy and made by one company.  This company also owns Lenscrafters and Sunglasses Hut.  Basically, they are the monopoly of designer eyewear (glasses and sunglasses).

Luxottica. (Check out Google Finance: NYSE LUX).  I actually owned 100 shares of Luxottica back in the day and freaked out during the recession and sold it.  It is of course, now almost two times what I purchased it at, but that's beside the point.

According to Wall Street Journal, there's a huge markup in the price of sunglasses (no surprise there).  Luxottica makes a gross profit of 64 cents from each dollar of sales.

Maybe You Will Take Better Care of Them

Life Hacker has a contradictory stance on expensive designer sunglasses, and maintains that expensive designer sunglasses make more sense because you will take better care of them.  And if rocking these sunglasses makes you feel like a rock star or a celebrity, then maybe it's worth the premium price that you pay.

In addition, some designer sunglasses are polarized, which cost more money to create in order to reduce the glare that you would get by the ocean.  However, most people who are using their sunglasses just for driving won't notice the polarization in the glasses.

I personally would not buy the drug store sunglasses anymore (you know, the ones that are on a whirly display that only cost $20?) just because I want to make sure the lens protects my eyes from those harmful sun rays, but I would not spend money out of my own pocket for an expensive designer pair.  $100 is reasonable though, if it lasts me a few years.

Cheap versus Expensive Designer Sunglasses

Of course, if you want to save money on glasses and contacts, you could instead buy things online at retailers such as Clearly Contacts, where the  middle-person (the eye glasses shop) is eliminated.  However, you might need a bit of patience because fit can be an issue and the quality doesn't seem as great as you would get in a “real life” eye glasses shop.

On a parting note, if you think that $300 to $500 sunglasses are ridiculously expensive.  The world's most expensive sunglasses are much more than that.  If you really want to see the world's most expensive sunglasses, check out the Dolce and Gabbana pair for over $350K.

Readers, do you think designer sunglasses are worth it?  Would you pay a premium dollar to rock that logo near your temples?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

3 Comments

  1. Chadwick on June 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I am not sure about designer sunglasses but try on a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses outside and see the world like you’ve never seen. You can go to most retail locations and ask the sales associate to walk you walk you outside so you can experience PolarizedPlus2 lens technology.



  2. Marie @ Gen Y Finances on July 1, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I never had bought designer sunglasses yet.. They are very expensive! Besides, it has just the same design with the fake sunglasses I bought and the special part of fake is cheap. It is just sunglasses then with fake ones, you don’t have to watch it or care it unlike originals in which you have to be careful because if you broke it out, it can give you an heart ache! LOL. That was just my own opinion. 🙂



  3. Koala on July 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I’m great at losing sunglasses, and my husband tends to break my on accident. I used to get $5 sunglasses, I’ve upgraded to $20 ones. They supposedly have the proper protection. I can’t see spending more than $50, unless I end up needing prescription ones.



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