Sunglasses • Shades that make a statement
The beauty of sunglasses is that they are fun to try and easy to buy. Airports are an obvious place to sell them given that so many passengers are on their way to the sun for a holiday • although some nationalities like the Italians don’t need such a practical excuse to wear them. Donning a pair, whatever the weather, seems to be de rigueur in Milan.
Which is why, perhaps, the biggest sunglasses manufacturers are in Italy, making under license, most of the fashion brands that you might sport on the ski slopes in the French Alps or the beaches of Rio.
But, as well as the usual array of fashion sunglasses that can be found in any airport store, there are more specialist models available so it’s worth thinking about exactly what you expect from your eyewear. If you want to flash a luxury name like Gucci or Chanel in the latest over-size design, that’s straightforward enough. But if you want something specific, there is a lot to decide on.
For example, there are brands out there that have strong sports connections such as Arnette and Oakley, and they can offer specific shapes and lenses for different types of activity whether it is skiing, sailing, fishing, or boarding. Maui Jim from Hawaii also specialises in polarising lenses, Italy's Persol has a strong research heritage, while Zoobug only creates sunglasses for kids. Ray-Ban remains the biggest brand in the airport business and its classic aviators are still popular, but wraparounds, high contrast colour lenses and lightweight titanium from producers such as Silhouette add to the choices available.
Don’t forget the kids, either. It’s just as important to protect their eyes from the glare of the sun • and they have just as much right to look as cool as you too! Polaroid, for example, as well as offering stylish collections for men and women offers an extensive range for kids including popular Hello Kitty and Disney collections, the latter ranging from Winnie the Pooh sunglasses for tots to Camp Rock and High School Musical styles for trendy teenagers.
Depending on the retailer, the service in sunglasses stores can be hit and miss due to the fact that these concessions are often small and sometimes manned by just one person. Sales people may not necessarily be trained to know the difference between different specialist brands • even if they can offer an opinion on whether one style or another suits you. So before your airport trip, do some research online, or in a High Street stores where the manpower ensures a better level of service. And if it’s a big retailer like Sunglass Hut, its staff should also be able to find out if the sunglasses you are trying will be available in the local airport store and whether it will be cheaper to buy it there. In any event, check out the collections at the airport... you may be surprised at how extensive they are!
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