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How Must-Have Are Those Swanky Sunglasses, Really?

Jul 21, 2010

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Sarah Handel

In some ways, I truly believe your sunglasses say more about you than any other way you choose to dress and/or accessorize. Imitation wayfarers in a vibrant hue? You're probably a lot of fun to be around, and like attention.  Polarized Costa del Mars tell me you might be an outdoorsman, a fisherwoman or a hunter. I personally prefer classic Ray-Ban aviators, which I like to think make me look cool and put-together (a pipe dream as soon as you look away from my glasses, but hey, a girl can dream).  Right or wrong, the eyes are the window to the soul, so the shades matter (sorry, I had to).

Ok, we're about to take our serious turn now: enter the Wall Street Journal! Brett Arends wrote a great piece earlier this month about sunglasses, addressing the question what you're really getting when you shell out hundreds of dollars for the latest designer look.  The answer?

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.

I knew a lot of the price of sunglasses is about the name plastered across the frame or the lens, but I had no idea my "Made in Italy" Ray-Bans had so much company. There's a lot more in Arends' piece about Luxottica's reach and profits, and he closes with an important caveat. If you tend to leave your sunnies on the beach, or just replace yearly to follow trends:

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.

Ouch!

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