We all own a pair and with summer in full swing, most of use have been doing a bit of online shopping and making a trip to sunglass stores.
Living out half of the year in the tropics means having to keep my sunglasses within close range for when I head outdoors. And in the last 2 years, I have maybe purchased 5 pairs of sunglasses from brands we are all familiar with (Rayban, Oakley and the odd designer pair). I’ve found them a bit on the pricey side but still fairly satisfied with my purchase especially when factoring in the cost per wear. But one thing I did notice was that the make and quality of these sunglasses from different brands were all too similar. Nothing stood out when inspecting the quality and materials used.
And with so many brands out there, shouldn’t the competition be driving these prices down?
I wasn’t surprised to learn that most eyewear brands we see online and in stores, from big designer brands like Gucci to sporty brands like Oakley are being made by one company: Luxottica.
Luxottica is the biggest eyewear company on the planet with the following brands under their name: Prada, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany.
Bulgari, Vogue, Persol, Coach, DKNY, Rayban, Oakley, Sunglasses Hut, LensCrafters, Oliver Peoples, Pearle Vision, Target Optical and Sears Optical.
Luxottica controls 80% of the major brands in the $28 billion global eyeglasses industry. This monopolistic structure of the market leads to profits that are “relatively obscene,” says Tim Wu, a professor of law at Columbia University and the author of The Master Switch. In a speech given at this year’s annual conference for New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, Wu remarks that products in some industries seem to only get better and cheaper such laptops and smart phones — while other products, like eyeglasses, remain strangely overpriced, with very little to no innovation.
When you own 80% of what is out in the market, then you have monopoly and can set a price of the highest amount that consumers would be willing to pay for each specific brand since the industry isn’t competitive.
On top of being able to price these sunglasses however they want, they also get to choose what goes in the stores. Luxottica owns Sunglass hut, Oliver peoples and Pearle Vision where most of us shop for sunglasses. And in these chain stores, it would be very difficult for an independent brand to stay in business when you cant get your product in.
Such is the case with Oakley when Luxottica simply cut them out of their popular distribution channels when they started becoming more popular than their own sunglasses. Luxottica caused Oakley’s stock to plummet simply by carrying fewer of their sunglasses through Sunglass Hut, eventually leaving Oakley with no choice but to merge with Luxottica in 2007.
Make a conscious choice
With 80% market dominance, there is that 20%. Independent retailers for sunglasses now mostly sell online (since it would be almost impossible to get their products in a chain store owned by Luxottica). We’ve done our research and are thrilled to share these great companies with great stories to share and even better sustainable, eco conscious sunglasses. So check them out on the link below:
Eco and Sustainable Sunglasses perfect for summer and all year round!