Sunglasses continued to record stable but unimpressive retail volume growth in 2019, with actual sales almost stagnant. The dichotomy of the South African economy means that only a low proportion of affluent consumers can afford to purchase high-end branded sunglasses such as Ray-Ban and Oakley in addition to luxury brands such as Gucci and Prada, supported by celebrity endorsements.
Similar to spectacles, different fashion trends influence sunglasses, with retrospective styles such as Ray-Ban’s iconic Aviator and Wayfarer models, cat eye, thin-wired, double bridges, vintage round, oval and square, in addition to tiny sunglasses that are inspired by the 1990s, all in high demand in South Africa at the end of the review period. These trends are heavily celebrity driven with models such as Bella and Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Kanye West sporting these looks on their Instagram pages as well as generally in the media, with easily influenced younger affluent consumers keen to replicate their style.
Although sunglasses are seen as part of discretionary spending in South Africa, despite the country’s hot and sunny weather, parents’ concerns over their children’s welfare is more of a priority. While many consumers of all income groups are likely to make sure their children are well protected from the sun via clothing choice or making them wear hats, an increasing number of mid- to high-income consumers are likely to address the issue by purchasing more specific accessories such as sunglasses for their children.
Luxottica continued to lead sunglasses in in South Africa in 2018, maintaining share through offering classic high-end brands such as Ray-Ban and popular sports-related brand Oakley. However, second-ranked Safilo lost share to smaller players under others in addition to affordable brands from mixed retailers such as Woolworth.
Despite losing overall value share in 2018, Safilo recorded a recovery in value sales terms following a decline in 2017, with a change in global brand owner for the Gucci brand with Kering taking over from Safilo Group SpA. Kering has established in-house eyewear manufacturing capabilities in order to gain greater control over distribution and profit margins for its portfolio.
G-III Apparel Group and Marchon Eyewear have signed a long-term licence agreement to manufacture and distribute DKNY and Donna Karan New York sunglasses and spectacles, moving ownership from Luxottica Group. Marchon and DKNY were previously in partnership between 1999 and 2004, but the new agreement is set to increase the global reach and showcase the uniqueness of DKNY’s designs, with the brand continuing to perform well in South Africa at the end of the review period.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our sunglasses market research database.