How much do you know about fashion sunglasses? If you think you know a lot, perhaps it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. You may know more than the average consumer but, then again, you may not. Let’s find out.

Wholesale eyewear designer Olympic Eyewear maintains that there’s quite a bit about fashion sunglasses the average consumer doesn’t know. They have put together a list of five little known facts that may challenge your perceptions about the shades you wear on your face every day.

1. Fashion Sunglasses Are Not New

History suggests that the first sunglasses were worn by the Inuit people of prehistoric Alaska. We wouldn’t consider their eyewear fashionable. Nonetheless, what we do consider fashion sunglasses aren’t new either. They date back to the turn of the 20th century and the burgeoning film industry.

Hollywood stars began wearing sunglasses as fashion accessories as early as the 1920s. They became so popular with mainstream Americans that Life Magazine ran a story in 1938 discussing the fact that sunglasses were the latest fad.

2. One Company Dominates the Industry

Despite the success of companies like Olympic Eyewear, one Italian company pretty much dominates the industry. Milan-based Luxottica owns almost all the major brands including Oakley, Ray-Ban, Versace, and on and on. That leads us to point number three…

3. You Pay for the Name

The differences between various brands are so subtle as to be meaningless to most consumers. In essence, those who pay the highest price for their shades are paying for the name. Plastic is plastic, whether you’re talking frames or lenses. So unless you’re buying a pair of sunglasses plated in gold or studded with jewels, they probably cost very little to make.

A big part of the name thing goes back to Luxottica’s dominance. As Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal pointed out in a 2015 piece, Luxottica pretty much has a monopoly on high-end brands. They can charge $500 for a pair of sunglasses that Olympic Eyewear would charge $50 for simply because they have a name people are willing to pay for.

4. Price Doesn’t Always Equal Quality

Most people don’t realize that price and quality do not always match when it comes to sunglasses. The ‘you get what you pay for’ philosophy may apply to a lot of consumer goods, but fashion sunglasses are often an exception to the rule. Both the materials and manufacturing processes of most brands is so similar that differences in quality are negligible.

Of course, the quality issue does come with a caveat. You obviously cannot compare expensive sunglasses offering maximum UV protection against a cheap pair that offers no UV protection at all. The idea that price doesn’t always equal quality rests on the supposition that you are comparing brands with similar features and specs.

5. Most People Buy Sunglasses Every Year

Finally, the average American adult purchases a new pair of sunglasses at least every year. Some have to replace an old pair because they have either damaged or lost them. Others buy new sunglasses simply because they’re tired of the old. Still others by sunglasses to go with every new outfit they buy.

At the end of the day, sunglasses are first and foremost about eye protection. So regardless of your purchasing habits, know this: there is a lot that goes on in the eyewear industry that you are probably unaware of. Purchase your next pair of sunglasses with the first consideration given to how well they will perform their intended function. Then worry about everything else.

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