Posted by: debrakolkka | September 17, 2011

Why are sunglasses so expensive?

Just in case you were wondering why branded spectacles are so expensive, I have found an explanation. Each pair takes about one week to make and passes through 70 pairs of hands before completion. That is a lot of hands and a lot of wages to pay.

at least 70 people are involved in the making of these glasses

 There are 2 main manufacturers of the major brands of spectacles in Italy. The largest is Luxottica, founded in 1961 in Agordo, north of Venice, by Leonardo Del Vecchio. It is now based inMilan. They produce Ray Ban, Persol and Oakley and also make for Chanel, Prada, Miu Miu, Burberry and Oliver Peoples, among others.

The second largest producer is Safilo, founded in 1934 by Guglielo Tabacchi, in Pieve di Cadore. They produce Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Dior and Gucci and more.

My optometrist, the lovely Michael at Optiko in Brisbane, assures me that the branded sunglasses are made from extremely hard wearing and expensive materials. He also said that some great new products are coming out of Japan and Germany. The frames are becoming lighter and stronger all the time. If you are in Brisbane drop in to see Michael and he will explain all the materials used. He did tell me, but it went in one ear and out the other.

Prada at Optiko

Optiko in Brisbane

 Being expensive may make sunglasses beautiful and a pleasure to wear, but it doesn’t prevent them from being lost or stolen.

At the other end of the scale are those from the street markets in Italy. They come in all colours and will cost about 5 euro. Why not buy a pair in every colour?

have a pair in each colour

It is not quite so tragic if you leave these on the bus.

And, there are accessory and apparel coupons on line.


  1. I always pay a lot of money for my sunglasses, but don’t mind as they are used every day for a number of years. What I do mind is dropping them and scratching them within the first few days of buying them- without fail every time. I don’t usually drop them again after that, *sigh*.

    • I dropped the blue ones almost immediately because the case didn’t hold them properly. Fortunately they were just damaged a bit o the side and it is not too noticeable. I have lost or had stolen a couple of pairs, which is extremely annoying.

  2. Love your collection of sunglasses, Deb! Plenty of variety to wear with a particular outfit. I haven’t had a new pair of sunglasses for a few years, maybe, it’s time I get a new pair? The Prada ones look elegant.

    • The Pradas are very cute.

  3. Obviously, those sunglasses are fabulous and I would not mind the Prada ones at all, particularly the dark ones… Having said that, the most important thing is to ascertain that the sunglasses we buy are UV400, which are the EU and Australian standards. Also, blue blocking prevents macular degeneration, which is a most important issue as you can become blind.
    A high price does not mean full protection. Sometime ago I read that the Australian Competition and Consumer Protection conducted a survey and found out that a pair of cheap generic sunglasses (about $7) offered better protection than some of the expensive brands (including a Salvatore Ferragamo).
    I think that, as for anything in the fashion industry, the sunglasses should look good on you as we all have different faces and features. They should also be preferably large, Jackie O type, as they provide better protection. I would never buy sunglasses at street markets as I have no guarantee regarding the protection they give and this is something dangerous.

    • I think the expensive ones should absolutely have good protection. That should be a given. The cheapies are just a bit of fun.

  4. I have always shied away from sunglasses because I am such a visual person. I feel it hampers my perception of the world. But now that I am getting older I find myself concerned about eye protection and squinting wrinkles. I am just starting to get used to sunglasses. If I had a couple pair that were as cute as these, I bet I would get used to them lickety split.

    • I found them annoying when I was younger too, but once you get used to wearing them it is hard to go back.

  5. Great post! Thanks for the explanation. I have been wearing sunglasses since I was a child due to very sun-sensitive eyes. I usually have more than one pair with me when I go out – one pair on my face, on in my bag as spare.

    Meant to tell you . . . Willie is going to Australia for a conference, and will also tour some of the forestry areas. Lucky thing! I’m sad that I can’t go along as one of the areas he is visiting is Brisbane.

    • When is he coming to Brisbane?

      • It will be towards the end of November/beginning of December.

      • I will be back in Brisbane 7th December. We could have a coffee together if he is still here.

      • I don’t know his itinerary yet, but I’ll pass on your kind invite.

      • It would be fun to meet. Let me know what he is doing when you know.

  6. I wanted to buy the new Prada ones last month (the one you have in the picture) but did find them expensive.
    Thanks for the wonderful post, I learned new stuff.

    • They are not as expensive in Italy as they are here.

  7. Fascinating post, Deb. I wonder why it seems all eye glasses are so expensive? I suppose for the same reason. I seem to pay a fortune everytime I need a new pair.
    (Wish I were going to Brisbane. Lucky Willie!)

    • There is the added cost of prescription lenses in glasses. They are quite expensive.

  8. I am pleased to hear that making brand sunglasses is such a time consuming process, I wondered when I bought mine if I was just paying for the name. I hope I never leave them on a bus!

    • It is very disappointing when that happens.

  9. I have the tortoiseshell Prada’s in the first brand photo above. Love them. They get quite a reaction from Fashion Savvy folk and those who have no idea of the brand. They also provide good protection. I own many pairs of sungalsses and specs but can safely say these Prada’s are my favorite of all.

    • I have seen them and I love them too.

  10. I didn’t realise making sunglasses was so specialised – only 2 companies making them for all those brands? And 70 people each… wow.

    • I was a bit surprised too.

  11. love the Prada ones !!!! I have a bit of a collection of nice sunglasses to choose from…I love nice sunnies….nice to know why I pay so much for them… thanks Deb

    • I’m sure they are worth every penny.

  12. Wawhoooo…. I need to make a trip to you, these sunnies are fabulous. I seem to be pretty good with mine, I’ll keep the same pair for years, although, the cheapo’s that get dropped in the bottom of the bag always go missing. Guess it’s cause I just don’t look after them. 🙂

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