By John Smith, Published July 21, 2014
There’s nothing more exciting or satisfying than getting your hands on a good bargain, especially in today's cash-conscious and fiscally thrifty climate. But at the same time, we don’t want to sacrifice price for quality. In other words, we want a good deal at a reasonable price.
There’s no denying there's an extremely lucrative market in the selling of cheap, discounted and rip-off designer clothes and labels – and it’s a black market that rakes in millions for fraudsters every year.
As the old maxim goes: if a deal seems too good to be true, more often than not it usually is – and when it comes to sunglasses, it’s simply a risk not worth taking.
Not only is it embarrassing to be caught out with a pair of fake sunnies that are of execrable, lamentable quality, but counterfeit, lacklustre shades also don’t give you the proper UV protection, putting your eyesight and health at risk.
Here then are a few canny ways to spot a pair of rogue shades – keeping you looking cool, without getting ripped off.
A sure-fire way of spotting a pair of fake sunglasses is either a change or modification of the brand logo, or an obvious misspelling. Before you buy a pair, look at the trademark brand logo of your favourite shades – that way you’ll be able to weed out any inconsistencies, discrepancies or blatant give-aways. Ray-Ban for example have a printed logo on the left lens and the initials RB etched into the other whereas brands such as Serengeti and TagHeuer display a logo on one lens. Police eyewear have no logo on the lens so you will have to rely on the logo on the packaging or sunglasses temple.
A bit of background research never does any harm, so look into where your favourite designers’ factories and manufacturing centres are based. The Far East is a notorious hot-spot for counterfeit manufacturing, and looking at the packaging should also alert you to the products (in)authenticity.
Although most eyewear companies are based in Italy there are a growing number of manufacturers who have their product produced in China to save costs. Ray-Ban is the big brand that have recently (2014) started manufacturing product in the Far East so you need to do your homework before replying on location.
When buying from the UK look for the CE (Conformité Européenne) marking on the frame. The CE marking is a mandatory conformity marking for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). The CE marking is also found on products outside the EEA as they are either manufactured in the EEA or intended for sale in the EEA.
A good, branded, designer pair of sunglasses will be sold in genuine retailers and legitimate stores. If you buy a pair of shades from a backstreet market trader, it’s a no-brainer you’re taking a risk with the product’s authenticity – but fakes can surprisingly also end up on genuine retailers’ shelves, so be cautious.
Be wary of sunglasses sold under the moniker of ’cosmetic’ – it's usually a (not difficult to crack) code for knock-off. Compared to the real deal, cosmetic sunglasses don’t offer the proper levels of eye protection, meaning you’re not only purchasing a sub-standard product but also posing the potential risk of damaging your eyes. This is especially important when buying sunglasses for minors as the filter will cause an infant’s pupil to widen thus exacerbating the damage.
One of the most obvious ways to spot a fake pair of sunglasses is to simply look at them and ask: Do they look cheap? Top-of-the-market and branded sunglasses are made from the best quality materials on the market; fakes aren’t. Genuine sunnies exude class and style, but a pair of fakes – replete with poor quality material, flimsy arms and loose-looking hinges – simply don’t. Sub ?50.00 and the materials used to manufacture eyewear is not top quality. Top brands manufacturing thin, lightweight plastic frames often look flimsy but are made from materials such as acetate which is designed to be heated and re-shaped which can complicate the issue yet hinge and lens quality will remain constant and of a high quality.
A polarized lens typically adds 20-30% on the retail price of the frame so expect to pay more for a pair of sunglasses with a polarized lens.
Some brands such as Ray-Ban make identifying a polarized lens easy by stamping the letter R after their logo on the lens. Others do nothing so be vigilant.
Looking through a polarized lens at a computer screen or LED is not a way to determine a fake or inferior lens. Sunlight and non-natural light emit different light waves so the lens filter will react differently often showing what appears to be areas of weakness or clouding in the polarised filter. Such effects do not mean the lens is fake or poor quality, the lens is actually working correctly.
e-Bay – treasure trove of eye-watering and pocket-friendly bargains though it is – can also be a hotbed for scurrilous frauds and fakery. As with the surging wave of sub-standard and fake goods flooding the high street, the online retailer is also no stranger to its fair share of counterfeit items.
Is there a photo of the product? Where are you buying them from? Have you used them before? What do the comments and reviews about the seller say?
You can suss out real from fake if you’ve got the physical product in your hand – but when you’ve paid and only discover it's a fake when it comes crashing through your letterbox, it’s too late. In short, just don’t take the risk unless they are a Powerseller with sizable feedback.
Again, this applies to the purchasing of shades online, but a cursory glance of the reviews posted by users and previous customers can be informative and illuminating. Good service and genuine products will be reflected in customer reviews, so spend a few minutes reading them to make an informed buying decision. 3rd party consumer review websites (such as Trustpilot) are independent to the retailer selling the sunglasses which means the feedback is 100% genuine customer lead. Look for a high percentage of positive comments as this will reflect whether a company is selling fakes when advertising a genuine product.
Nobody wants to get ripped off and suffer the personal ignominy or financial embarrassment of buying a low-quality, inferior or fake product. So, if you’re spending your hard-earned cash on branded or designer sunglasses, make sure you consider some of these fake-busting pointers.