If you’re trawling the markets on the Koh San road in Bangkok you’ll know the reams of designer sunglasses are rip offs. But it’s not always that easy to tell.
Price is often a tell tale sign because, let’s face it, Prada sunnies for USD$12.00? Unlikely. But the eyewear market is big business so it's not surprising that fake designer sunglasses are flooding the market. A 2019 OECD report found that trade in counterfeit and pirated goods now stands at 3.3% of global trade. Imitation sunnies are becoming increasingly sophisticated so if you're in the market for a genuine designer pair, how do you tell if sunglasses are fake?
DID YOU KNOW: Ray-Ban are the most highly copied designer sunglasses in the world.
Here are 8 ways to spot whether those shades are fabulous or phoney:
When you pick up the box does it show the barcode and manufacturer’s details? What about an accompanying brochure: does it have one? If the sunglasses are real and not fake they’ll feature the model number, colour, lens and frame size as well as the manufacturing country on the sunglasses' arms as well as on the box.
Open the box and look at the case. This can be a dead giveaway. Real Oakley sunglasses come in a premium quality hard case or soft pouch, usually with a logo. Genuine Prada sunglasses are sold with a black microfibre cloth and a perfectly centred Prada logo. The lettering is distinct, evenly spaced and straight. Is the case missing or emblazoned with dodgy lettering? That’s one way to know if sunglasses are fake.
Whatever the brand, the lenses on designer shades should be of superior quality. On classic Ray-Bans they’re made from glass. But even if the sunglass lenses are lighter, try them on and look at the sun. You can usually tell by comparing them with a good pair of sunglasses as the lens should soften the light but retain clarity. If the sun feels harsh on your eyes, put them back.
If you want to know how to tell if sunglasses are fake – inspect the frames and the weight. Sunglasses with delicate or plastic frames will feel too light whereas counterfeit sunglasses with stainless steel frames will often feel heavier than the real ones. Authentic frames made from premium material should feel balanced and comfortable when worn. They should be free from scratches and imperfections, and when you look at them from the top they should appear symmetrical.
Many quality brands etch their logo or initials in the lenses. Try gently scratching it with your fingernails. If there’s no logo or it comes off easily, your sunglasses could be fake. If you've already purchased a pair of legitimate sunnies from a particular brand, you should know what to look for. The Oakley logo is a raised 'O' embedded into the frame, while original Ray-Bans have a 'RB' clearly etched onto one lens and 'Ray-Ban’ in white on the other lens.
6) Hinges and nose pads
Real designer sunglasses should open and close effortlessly and the nose pads should feel smooth. Fake Louis Vuitton sunnies are produced with top-quality single attachment screws but the hinges don't feel right when opening or closing. If the nose pads scratch or sit at different heights, your sunglasses might be fake.
7) Attention to detail
If you're willing to pay for designer sunglasses, you want to be sure you know how to tell if sunglasses are fake. Become as familiar as you can with the logo of the brand you’re buying. Prada sunnies have a distinctive ‘R’ that can be a giveaway on replicas. Carrera should have a UV statement and logo on the arm. Chanel will have an identification code etched vertically on the right lens. Take a good look before you buy and compare different sunglasses at the same store. Consistency is a more likely indicator the sunglasses are real.
The price tag on sunglasses used to be an effective way to spot the difference between real and fake versions but these days counterfeit sunglasses can look authentic enough to fetch higher-than-expected prices. In short: avoid making decisions based on cost alone.
The best way to know if you’re buying real or fake sunglasses is to buy directly from a reputable dealer. Check online website reviews and make sure you receive a certificate of authenticity and a warranty.
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