In the Shade

By Aaron Mabry | Nov 15, 2011

Despite the weather, running conditions or time of year, one staple product is becoming more and more synonymous with a runners wardrobe, helping to elevate that added comfort and edge. But whether it’s price point, technology or new materials, in the end, most runners see a quality pair of sunglasses as a necessity.
However, with so many options, how can you possibly make the right decision for you? I say start with the product. Ask yourself, do the features and benefits justify the price? Nick Yardley, CEO of Julbo, says higher price points must be higher for a succinct reason. “The consumer is smart, and consumers are fine spending more on sunglasses if doing so gives them more for their money,” he says.
When it comes to price points, sunglass manufactures offer an array of products that can adapt to the needs of any income. For example, take a consumer who may be in the market for performance-oriented sunglasses, but doesn’t want to pay a premium. Such a consumer could opt for a pair of MShades (sold at Mast General), manufactured by a Colorado-based company that is promoting high quality products with affordable prices.
Take its upscale Hydroglare Tigershark model featuring a $39.99 price point. Tom Fox, MShades vice president, says the Tigershark utilizes a state of the art Hydrophobic coating on the lens surface that beads water and repels dust and oil – a benefit where consumers could potentially “have their cake and eat it too.”
MShades relies heavily on its lower price points to spark consumer interest. “We really feel that the $39 price point is a growing sweet spot which can offer new technology, great quality and fit, while still maintaining more disposable, impul¬sive based interaction,” Fox says.
In contrast, Revo is targeting the eco-conscious consumer willing to pay more for high quality products, given that there’s little impact to the environment. With price points beginning around $159, retailers embrace Revo’s eco-tech story. Last year, the company worked with Sunglass Hut to promote the benefits of its Re-Use material.
“All of our key nylon styles in 2012 will be part of our Eco-Collection, which feature frames made from pre-consumer recycled plastic or a new frame material made from castor seed oil,” Shaffner says.
On another note, last year, Oakley introduced the Split Jacket, a model that balances sport performance with a simplified aesthetic. The Split Jacket, which just so happens to be my current sunglass of choice, features the company’s Switchlock technology, which promotes easier lens changes. “The adapt¬able nature of this style will accommodate a wide variety of sport applications,” says Andy McSorley, eyewear brand director for Oakley.
Costa Del Mar, which typically caters to outdoorsmen, is entering the running scene with a full line of revamped models. With price points ranging between $169 and $249, the manufacturer features such technology as their patented mirror glass lenses, designed to cut glare and enhance surrounding colors. “[Our] multi-patented 580 lens technology continues to gain traction at retail and is becoming a larger part of our sales each year,” says Dave Bulthuis, vice president of sales.
In any case, look at a pair of quality sunglasses as your eyes’ best friend. After all, they’re your greatest sense and it should just stand to reason that you’d want to do everything in your power to protect them. So despite the upfront cost, after you’ve gazed through a pair of polarized lenses, those dollar store knick knack shades simply won’t ever be the same.

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