Which Heir is that the 4 or the 3?
- 3,154 Posts. Joined 3/2012
- Location: Yorkshire, UK
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Actually, Oakley's optical quality isn't that good (and I have 3 of them). They're another company Luxxotica bought up and cheapened. If you want quality with sunglasses, it's best to go with independent brands. Glass lenses will be the clearest (Maui Jim is the best in the business for optics), but won't have the impact resistance of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate like Oakley uses, though, has the worst clarity, chromatic abberation, scratch resistance, and tintability of the 4 major lens materials. If you aren't using your sunglasses for sports, I'd suggest you give up on the scratch resistance and get a better quality traditional pair of shades made of wire core acetate instead of injection-molded plastic. But if you need the impact resistance, the best brand I've found for sport sunglasses is Rudy Project.
As for independent brands, it depends on what you're looking for exactly. As a general rule, avoid anything you can find in a Sunglass Hut besides Maui Jim, as well as fashion brands like Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Armani, etc. None of those brands actually make or design their sunglasses; all the work is contracted out.
I would think that the Oakleys used to be a lot better optically back then than they are now. Back then Maui Jim was barely known, even back in Hawaii. And the Oakleys I wore may have been impact resistant, but scratch resistant they certainly were not!
My uncle had the original Blades and was a repeat Oakley customer. He says that the quality has dropped noticeably in recent years, and he no longer uses them. One of my Oakleys has a tint that's so uneven I can see colors change when I turn my head. You'd think that they'd improve their product as materials like Trivex (which Rudy Project calls ImpactX and Kaenon also uses sometimes) were introduced, but it seems they regressed and started banking on their name. It's not all their fault, though. They had a dispute over pricing with Luxxotica, who owns Sunglass Hut, Lens Crafters, Pearle Vision, and most of the sunglass brands people know about. Luxxotica removed Oakley products from their distribution, which drove their stock prices down. Then Luxxotica bought them up and used their monopoly power to add Oakley to their lower-quality-higher-cost business strategy.
Another brand bites the diluted dust. Back when I fancied them I figured the only people that could use them for actual sport were sponsored pros, as they didn't have to worry about the cost of replacing the scratched ones. They did provide a competitive advantage, but scratched easily and were prohibitively expensive. Probably because of the expense of providing free ones to the sponsored pros!