Ever wonder why a pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses can cost as much as $500 USD? The answer probably has to do with the fact that an estimated 80 percent of designer frames are manufactured by just one company -- although you probably won't see its name on the label. Luxottica is an Italian company that makes designer frames for most of the big names in the business, from Prada and Versace to Ralph Lauren and Tiffany.
Luxottica estimates that at least half a billion people around the world wear their glasses. That amounts to a healthy annual share of the $28-billion eyewear industry. Detractors claim that this huge market share constitutes a monopoly, giving consumers only the illusion of a choice and forcing them to pay high prices.
One company, thousands of frames:
- Luxottica also has its hands in the retail market. The company owns numerous retail outlets including LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, and online retailer glasses.com.
- Leonardo Del Vecchio started Luxottica in 1961 in Agordo, Italy. The company is now headquartered in Milan.
- Warby Parker is one of the best-known independent online retailers. The company allows customers to try multiple frames before buying. Other non-Luxottica brands include Zenni Optical and Eye Buy Direct.