In the last decade, the sunglass market has exploded while also becoming much, much smaller. That’s because over the last decade sunglass conglomerate Luxottica slowly but surely snatched up all of the competition among sunglass companies. Referred to as one of the largest monopolies. Step into a mall sunglasses store and you’d be hard pressed to find a brand that Luxottica doesn’t own, in fact they most likely own the store your shopping in.
One of Luxottica’s most high profile brands, Oakley sunglasses, was purchased in 2007 for several billion dollars! Oakley was and still is the premier producer of athletic sunglasses. Worn by scores of high profile athletes such as Lance Armstrong, Ichiro Suzuki and many more.
Along with the explosion in popularity comes the explosion in discussion. In the 21stcentury, the discussion is now online. Social discussions are overtaking all other forms of marketing. Up until a few years ago, most Oakley collectors congregated through facebook groups or side conversations on Oakley’s own facebook page. Now you are more likely to find the answer you are looking for on OakleyForum.com, a message board dedicated the Oakley inc. products. In just over 3 years they have become one of the foremost authorities on Oakley products, with over 5,500 members, thousands of dollars worth of glasses are bought and sold every day!
When you find yourself browsing the abundance of threads and photos on the page, it’s easy to forget that each pair of glasses costs hundreds of dollars! Members scrutinize the rarest pairs and scrounge over counterfeit pairs on auction sites such as eBay. A quick look on OakleyForum.com gives you a lot of confidence that Oakley is in good hands.
One member commented; “It’s one of the only places I can go to truly talk about Oakley. Most of my friends think I’m crazy for spending the amount I do on Oakley’s. But I don’t see them as sunglasses, I see them as art!”. It isn’t surprising these members see them as art, since many of them never wear the glasses or even take them out of the boxes! Like many collecting worlds, the value of a “New In Box” pair of Oakley’s is substantially higher than a worn pair.
But we also find the other end of the spectrum. A group on the forum referring to themselves as the “No Shelf Wh*res Club”. Excusing the profanity, the members pride themselves on wearing every single pair of glasses in their collection regardless of their rarity or value. This is an impressive feat for members with collections containing dozens of pairs.
For other members however, this is an impossible feat. With collections spanning hundreds of pairs of sunglasses, to wear every pair for a day would take years! What’s even more daunting, is when you whip out your calculator and begin to calculate just how many dollars worth of designer sunglasses are sitting in front of you. Here’s a quick hint: don’t. It becomes very apparent from spending anytime on the site, that members don’t like to think about all the cash they would have if they didn’t buy Oakley’s. Not because they are ashamed, but because they love it! They wouldn’t trade the glasses for anything!