You know it’s a slow news day when you find yourself searching the internet for stories on sunglasses. Let’s face it, there aren’t many captivating headlines featuring designer sunglasses. Yet on this day, a headline from Business Insider demands attention. It trumpets the fact that a well-known designer eyewear brand just released a collection of floating sunglasses.
Sunglasses that float? Now there’s a novel idea. Why hasn’t this particular brand thought of it before? It sounds rather strange when you consider how many people lose their shades by dropping them in lakes and streams.
It stands to reason that anyone who knows anything about sunglasses understands they don’t play well with large bodies of water. What doesn’t make sense is why they sink so easily. Most sunglasses are made of plastic, for crying out loud. How can they not float?
Heavy and Dense Material
In their defense, manufacturers use comparatively heavy and dense plastics to produce frames that are durable enough to withstand a fair amount of punishment. The good folks behind Salt Lake City’s Olympic Eyewear confirm this. Even so, engineers have figured out how to float tons of steel on the open ocean without sacrificing a ship’s integrity. Surely they can do the same thing for a pair of shades?
One of the more popular no-frills solutions is to carry your sunglasses around your neck using a strap that floats. But that requires the buoyancy of the strap to be greater than the weight and density of your sunglasses. It also means buoyant straps are often thick and bulky.
Buoyant straps are workable, but they can be uncomfortable. People who don’t want to wear them are back to having to worry about taking their sunglasses on the open water. Every time they go fishing, boating or water skiing, there is the fear of dropping a few hundred bucks in the water and watching it sink to the depths.
Fairly Simple Technology
Getting back to the idea of floating sunglasses, it would seem that we are talking fairly simple technology. Even if you have heavy and dense plastic frames that will not naturally float on their own, you could hollow out a portion of them and fill them with cork. Cork would help maintain the integrity but reduce the weight and density.
Just making the forward portion of the temples hollow would do the trick as well. Of course, that would weaken the temples significantly. So how about solid temples but hollow frames? That might do the trick as well.
Here’s the point: you’re talking about a plastic product that is already light enough to wear on your face for 10 hours without bothering you. It should be fairly easy to make sunglasses float. For goodness’ sake, sunglasses have been around as a consumer product for more than a hundred years. Why has it taken so long for designers to come up with a solution to the sinking problem?
Willing to Pay the Price
Perhaps the answer to the question is a bit more cynical than we’d like to admit. Maybe it’s little more than the fact that eyewear manufacturers would rather their customers keep losing their sunglasses so that they buy more. Now they might be betting that people are willing to pay a higher price for floating sunglasses rather than settling for a standard pair and a bulky strap.
Are you willing to pay the price for floating sunglasses? If you are already spending $300 on each pair you buy from your favorite designer, maybe a little extra more for a floating pair is worth it.