Italian sunglasses: brands and reputations

Just like with watches, Italians like to have multiple sunglasses and change them often. The difference is, the sunglasses, unlike watches are made in Italy. To be more precise, the majority of these high quality dim glass spectacles are made in a single region, the Province of Belluno. According to some estimates 95% of Italian eyewear producers are located there. In particular, the Valle del Cadore is the heart of the industry in this region. Four of the world’s leading manufacurers are based in this region: Luxottica, Safilo, De Rigo, and Marcolin. Such dense concentration of similarly focused companies usually results in increased level of competitiion and quick dissemination of new technologies and designs. This could be the real reason behind the reputation that Italian sunglasses enjoy around the world.

The history of eyewear manufacturing in Belluno (more precisely in Cadore valley) goes back to 1878 when Angelo Frescura, his brother Leone and Giovanni Lozza established a spectacle workshop. This business eventually evolved into the company known as Safilo (incorporated circa 1930). The nearby Valle dell’Agordino became another center of eyewear making in the 1960s with the establishment of Luxottica. While the Cadore area businesses remained independent and focused on specific manufacturing stages, Luxottica chose a different model. The company’s founder, Leonardo Del Vecchio encouraged his workers to start their own businesses that maintained strong ties with “the mothership”. In the 1970s, Luxottica spearheaded the expansion to the world’s main markets. Finally, in the 1980s, Italian eyewear manufacturers were a part of a major shift in their industry. Prior to then, eyeglasses served a merely utilitarian purpose. Now they became a fashion accessory. This trend was sealed by licensing agreements signed between glass manufacturers and famous design firms, such as Giorgio Armani. Today the universe of Italian eyewear also includes such brands as Ray-Ban, Revo, Arnette, Killer Loop, Persol and Vogue.

See also:

Italian watches

Image by JaCrews7

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