KATHMANDU: With the sun at its scorching worst, investing in a pair of quality sunglasses seems the most sensible thing to do. The
market is flooded with sunglasses, ranging from budget sunglasses to high-end designer ones.
Elegance, an authorised distributor for branded sunglasses, offers 18 different brands under three major groups: Luxottica, Marceline and In-Style from Italy. The store stocks sunglasses of original brands like Ray-Ban, Vogue, Versace, Giorgio Money, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Oakley, Tom Ford, et cetera. The cost of the shades starts from Rs 8,000 and can go up to Rs 40,000, depending upon style, design and brand. Ashok Agrawal, managing director of Elegance, says, “Although branded sunglasses are
expensive, they are worth every paisa. They guarantee cent per cent UV protection and some sunglasses even offer the option of colourised features for better clarity of vision.”
According to him, customers make a beeline for Ray-Ban shades, which are affordable and stylish while Versace, Gucci and Emporio Armani are other popular brands. Elegance offers sunglasses for both men and women and Agrawal reveals that 60 per cent of their customers are females. “Ladies are more fashion conscious, hence it is no surprise that they frequent such stores,” he says.
According to Agrawal, Kathmandu has a huge potential to be a noteworthy goggles market, although political instability is marring its chances. The store reportedly sells 5,000 sunglasses annually. During peak season, it trades as many as 10 units per day. The most popular design is Ray-Ban’s aviator, while wayfarer, club master, predator, caravan, flip-out, shooter, et cetera are also preferred by many. Stating that branded products are popular among high-income families, Agrawal says, “Though customers these days are quite aware of the
quality of branded products, many of them cannot afford them, so they opt for non-branded Chinese sunglasses.”
According to him, some traders are involved in the fraudulent practice of passing off counterfeit sunglasses as original branded ones. He cautions, “Customers should be careful as there is no mechanism to distinguish between branded and non-branded products. One precautionary measure is to purchase sunglasses only from authorised outlets.”
Meanwhile, Madan Shrestha, marketing and salesperson of Janaki Opticals, wholesaler of Chinese sunglasses, says, “We have different types of China-made sunglasses under brand names like Ray-Ban, Gucci, Oakley, Prada and Versace, among others, which are quite affordable. The cost of the sunglasses ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 6,000.” According to Shrestha, 90 per cent of the total market share of sunglasses is occupied by China-made products because of its affordability. He explains, “Contrary to the mis-conception that all Chinese goods are of inferior quality, there are different grades of Chinese products.” Defending the sales of China-made sunglasses, Shrestha says, “The clientele that cannot purchase high-end shades prefer our products, and they are quite satisfied too. Our customers include the lower strata as well as upper-class families.” According to him, their best selling brands are Ray-Ban and Gucci.
The period between March to June is reportedly the best months for sales of sunglasses. However, bikers and fashion-savvy customers are on the lookout for shades in other seasons also.
Although Shrestha is satisfied with the sales, he informs, “There is unhealthy competition among traders, as there is no parameter for determining the price, which may greatly vary among stores. This leads to customers being deceived.” Advising customers to make the right choice of sunglasses, he suggests that they need to purchase their eyepieces from trusted stores, choose the design that suits their face cuts, and distinguish between branded and Chinese products before payment.