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  1. Sunglass Shack

    Sunglass Shack Oakley Enthusiast

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    I just wanted to put some info out there to help uphold Oakleys commitment to quality. I have seen a few posts concerning Oakleys and the possible manufacturing of their glasses in China but wanted to clear some things up to the best of my ability for Oakley's sake. Back in the day, Oakley in California had a plant on one side of the road that made just lenses, and another plant on the other side of the road that made the frames. They would then truck over the lenses from the lens factory right across the road to the frame factory for assemblage. Since the "merger/absorption" with Luxottica a few things have changed but overall their quality remains the same. I am still guaranteed that ALL (100%) of the lenses are made in the USA.

    **chime in National Anthem, planes flying overhead, NASCAR crashes in the background and Budweiser commercials being played on a TV at McDonalds ... AMERICUH!**

    ... but I continue. The lenses are the most important part of the sunglass. It's what you look through! I even have reps from other sunglass lines telling me that Oakley truly does have the clearest ploy lenses on the market. Here is how that is accomplished. Polycarbonate lenses are made up from 2 things "poly" which is your plastic and "carbonite" which is carbon. Carbon is very dirty, and that is why when you put on a real cheap $5 pair of sunglasses from a convenience store they are all foggy looking, not crisp at all. Oakley uses a special technique in which they let all of the carbon settle to the bottom of their tanks and essentially scoop off the crystal clear remains at the top. The other companies that offer cheap sunglasses simply use everything in their vats to make their lenses. Oakley also uses a single pour method to actually make their lenses. It's a 1 piece lens that is not layered like some other companies do. The only benefit of a layered lens I have seen is the fact they can "sandwich" their lens coatings between the layers. So for instance, chemicals won't remove the iridium coatings when sandwich unlike when they are externally applied. Another thing, lenses are typically either polycarbonate or glass (some very cheap ones are just plastic). All polycarbonate lenses will/can scratch. After all it's just plastic, no matter what coatings they put on top.

    So you may be asking, "where does China fall into all of this?" Well since the Lux merger, Oakley still runs somewhat as it's own independent company with its own HQ, design team, marketing team, etc and wasn't simply just absorbed completely by Lux. However, Lux being the actual company's owner now, has their own facilities in Italy and China for both lens and frame production. I personally feel Lux says it is way more cost efficient to manufacture the frames overseas in China. We know 100% that all acetate frames (like News Flash) and all metal frames are manufactured in China, shipped to America and then assembled here with the USA built lenses. Acetate is a nasty material to work with when raw and there are very few plants that even will work with it, metal frames are by far much cheaper to manufacture overseas than here in America. However, it's a very touchy subject when discussing the OMatter frames. You might be asking, "well where did the Made in USA go on the inside of the temple?" Good question! The best information I have been able to get is that the frames are manufactured in pieces in a top of the line and heavily monitored plant in China but then shipped to the USA for painting and assembling here. Since more of the work is being done here in the USA they don't have to have the words "Made in China" inside the temple. I also personally feel they are discontinuing to put "Made in USA" inside the OMatter temples because they are not out to lie to the public about the process since parts are not all made in America. It's like buying a brand new Chevy. Let's say the truck is designed here in America, painted here in America and built in America but all of the gaskets on the motor and tranny and the cloth for the seats as well as the radiator came from China. Well we still think of it as an American product, and the same should be said for Oakley. Lux of course is clearly in it for the money (who wouldn't be!) but I think they have done a fair compromise by letting the majority of the work stay here in the US. Plus not all factories in China are as portrayed on TV, from what I have gathered it's a very top of the line factory with heavy quality control (hence why the product remains so good).

    So hopefully that helps to clear a few things up. All of that information is what I have come to know as being truthful. If perhaps an Oakley rep or employee would have further insight it would be greatly appreciated. Again, this was simply to help uphold the high standards and quality behind the Oakley name. It seems as if I am not letting "the cat out of the bag" since pretty much everyone here has known Oakleys don't seem to say Made in USA anymore. I simply wanted to clear the air because I have came across 3 threads now with people talking about their lenses being made in China. Not the case! =) All lenses are made in California, USA.
     
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  2. Frogskins

    Frogskins Oakley Expert

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    Interesting read ... thanks

    One quick comment/question ...

    If "Lux says it is way more cost efficient to manufacture the frames overseas in China," then why have retail prices continued to rise?

    o_O
     
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  3. headpatrolman

    headpatrolman O Addict

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    We were already paying the high prices and no company in the world is going to lower prices on a product already selling at a high price even if production / manufacturing costs go down or get cheaper. All companies strive to make their products in a more cost efficient manner as the companies grow and expand and I dare to say none of them lower prices or pass the savings on to the consumer when they find a way to lower the manufacturing cost. As for the prices going up they look at all of the other retailers and the state of the economy and if all other companies are raising prices for products then they will as well and just say its a product of the economic decline, even if they are saving money, they will still increase prices because they know we will pay for the product. The only way prices would ever decrease is if Oakley had a drastic drop in profits due to very poor sales indicating the consumers are just unable to or not willing to pay the prices Oakley is charging for the glasses. I think we all know that is never going to happen.
     
    Sunglass Shack likes this.
  4. Sunglass Shack

    Sunglass Shack Oakley Enthusiast

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    Because customers are willing to pay it. ;)

    Material costs HAVE gone up. Nearly everything is on the rise, even the fuel to ship products from China to the US. I'm not going to try and make up excuses. If I am to answer honestly I feel it is to make their product more elite. If it costs $40 more than what it did 2 years ago people that want a cool pair of sunglasses and want that Oakley name will pay it. More profits for Lux.

    I mean, c'mon, look at Chopard’s Sunglasses ...... $408,496.00! They have nice parts to make up the whole but I am sure they are making massive amounts of profit on a pair like that. Same goes even for some of my other brands. I hate to knock any brands I carry but some of the Burberry and Versace I have I can barely see the difference for $300 compared to some of my $12 NYS Collection sunglasses. It all comes down to what people are willing to pay for the name. In most cases you have plastic frames with plastic lenses and a some tiny metal hinges. On a mass production level what do you really think the cost is to make one of these and then retail them at $300. :spiteful:
     
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  5. Sunglass Shack

    Sunglass Shack Oakley Enthusiast

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    Very true, and on that note I can tell you that Oakley is at least 50% of the total sales of an independent retailers brand name sunglass sales. Oakley is not hurting. Even though 2013 was a slow sales year Oakley was still selling like hot cakes. Most of the Summer (even now actually) when I went to order frames about 40% of them were out of stock (OOS). They simply can't keep up with demand fast enough.
     
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  6. Clay

    Clay Oakley Beginner

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    while I agree with the premise in general, I don't know if I fully buy into it yet.

    I've had a pair of Flak Jackets that I wear daily, that are made in the USA. I had them for over 2 years of daily use, so I was very familiar with them. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for the young German guy) I left them in a rental car in Dusseldorf, Germany back in November. So I went out and bought a new pair of FJ and fire lenses, just like I had. These were china made frames..... and they are different. They feel different on my head, they open/close differently, they have a different feel to the plastic.

    Oh well, just my observation on the subject.
     
  7. Rustpot

    Rustpot M Frame Lover Premium Member

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    I have several pairs of M Frames, all made in the USA, that I could make the same remarks about.

    Incremental design changes, plastic mixes, heck the temperature on the day they're made can all make differences in the way two otherwise identical products behave.
     
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  8. Rustpot

    Rustpot M Frame Lover Premium Member

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    That makes absolutely ZERO sense.

    Polycarbonate mean "many carbonate". "Poly" is synonymous with plastic since plastics are long, repeating molecular chains, so their chemical name almost always begins with "poly-".

    Whether or not there's goop in the vat, there's no raw Carbon involved.
    Some Misconceptions Cleared Up On Oakleys From China. - polycarbonate.jpg

    Oakley's optical clarity comes from the correction they impart to the lens to overcome the optical impurities and inherent shift that will occur. A perfectly clear, flat piece of polycarbonate will appear 100% transparent to perpendicular light. As soon as you introduce an incident angle at all (which tends to happen with curved surfaces) you'll get refraction. This causes blurry vision as the light begins to refract in non-predictable patterns, and non-uniformly (since the angle is constantly changing on the curve).

    You can look through a dollar-store pair held up to the ceiling light and not notice any cloudiness or defects, then begin to wear them and get a headache. Since your eyes are constantly being fed images that are out of phase, out of focus, and don't conform to how the image-center of your brain thinks it should perceive them you'll be working a lot harder to see and fatigue (manifested in headaches) sets in quickly.


    So go tell whoever told you things about "letting the carbon in carbonate settle and only getting the poly" or whatever... they're feeding you absolute BULLSH**
     
  9. dr.chop

    dr.chop Oakley Expert

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    That's kind of funny...One, to say the lens manufacturing was "across the street", and 2, to say the "sandwich coatings" in the lenses is also funny. The traditional "sandwiching" is for the polarization filters that are usually placed between 2 layers of material and essentially bonded or glued together. With that process, the distortion is increased as per Oakley reps and R&D peeps that handle the tours. In common sense thinking, it makes perfect sense because you are introducing more foreign objects into the lens than a virgin polycarbonate or lexan lens blank, or even glass. Now, as it has been explained by Oakley, they use the the method to jacket the film itself with the raw lens material during the injection process rather than gluing 3 layers to create one lens. They reference something about spin injection or something. Anything else and the coatings are only applied to the exterior lens surfaces to the best of my knowledge and the tours that I have attended and the info from a very good friend who was a tech rep at Oakley for 7 years. With the exception of something they were working on he told me about that is a completely different beast and would be insane to see it come to fruition.

    Now, as far as the making lenses across the street goes, if that were the case, it must have been in the last year if at all. All the lenses were made in the lower basement portion of HQ. I have physically seen them being made both in the RX dept and in the sunglass area. Becky took my group in the Co-Pilot event throughout the RX area and showed us the raw plutonite pellets, the injection machines, the Iridium chambers (which I had seen several times before), and the cad routers that cut the lenses in action. Plus, I saw the workers down there cleaning the fresh lenses in the ultrasonic trays and prepping for install and packaging. So that would be a very big surprise to me to have the lenses made across the street. What I do know that was/is and has been across the street would be what is referred to as "the cage" which was where warranty pulled inventory from, and often where the special edition parts were kept (ichiro lenses and special ed/sig stuff), and that previously was upstairs in HQ at sales support. Also, Customer service was re-located from HQ in FHR to a call center in Lake Forest up the road. What has been across the street also is the Friends & Family sales. I have been to 3 of them I believe, if memory serves me correct across the street, 1 at a car dealer down the street, and 1 in Lake Forest a few miles away. They also used to have "Super Vault" in Ontario, CA after the old f&f sales where they would blow out the remainder of stuff from the huge parking lot sales. That was also the warehouse for most product and lots of the dealer tower displays (I saw literally hundreds in the back in their crates/boxes). Now, there are buildings in Ontario from what I have been told.

    Again, I may be a bit off, but also, unless it has been in the last 12-18 months, the rest is precise to what I have seen, know, and known from employees and tours. As far as China goes, I have also been told they spent millions on a lens facility there on top of the several lines that run frames, and that too is from a very very reliable source, so sometimes the Kool-Aid is sweeter in appearance than in taste...Just saying.
     
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  10. dr.chop

    dr.chop Oakley Expert

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    And to also clarify, Becky described the plutonite as the most optically PURE lexan possible, not as polycarbonate. She was/is (I am not sure anymore) the head of RX Manufacturing at the time in '09 of the Co-Pilot event.