Although Luxottica’s portfolio of designer brands still clearly leads sunglasses, thanks to the rise of Kering Eyewear’s Gucci as well as the large share held by private label sunglasses could become increasingly fragmented in the coming years. Gucci parted ways with its former licensor Safilo in 2017 to re-establish creative control of its glasses arm.
Private label holds a strong share in sunglasses in the UK and its sales continue to grow consistently year-on-year. This growth is increasingly bolstered by the strong presence of online pure players like ASOS and Boohoo-owned Nasty Gal in sunglasses with a unit price that averages about GBP10 and designs that are often very close to the popular designer versions that retail for 30 times the price.
At the lower end of the rankings are other luxury names – Tom Ford (Marcolin), along with Elle and Esprit (licensed by Charmant), hold very small brand shares and are struggling to mimic the success of other premium and luxury names. Gucci’s success lies in the creative, sellable genius of creative director Alessandro Michele, while Chanel and Louis Vuitton and other LVMH brands – despite being licensed by Luxottica – are bolstered by the hype surrounding the brand names thanks to popular designers like the late Karl Lagerfeld and Virgil Abloh.
Independent opticians in the UK are being acquired by larger firms as private equity groups see the value in investing in the eyewear industry. Large groups target small, independent optical shops, often family-run, which are likely to be coming to the end of their careers.
The proportion of sunglasses sales via online channels is growing consistently, in line with the rest of the fashion industry. Key lifestyle trends driving sunglasses include wider awareness of the dangers of sunlight on the eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes, which has boosted sales of premium eyewear online and in-store.
Private label sunglasses are still key to the longevity and growth of the sunglasses category in the UK, and they continue to hold a large sales share. The overall share is comprised of small, independent private label lines as well as high street fashion stores and sportswear brands.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our sunglasses market research database.