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Ah the eternal debate when it comes to sunglasses: Ray-Ban vs. Oakley.
They both make high quality sunglasses using the latest designs with superior lens technologies, so which is better?
We’ll compare the two brands side by side based on style, frame, and lens offerings so you can decide which is right for you. Finally, we’ll also look at pricing to determine which brand provides better value.
Ray-Ban vs. Oakley: Which Is Better?
Comparing Ray-Ban and Oakley is definitely a battle of the titans. Both brands are well-known for their stylish, high quality sunglasses, with a cool factor that’s second to none.
In truth, it’s not really an apples to apples comparison as Ray-Ban is more of a fashion and style brand while Oakley is a sport and performance eyewear company, though it does have a lifestyle collection that’s geared to everyday wearers too.
Both are actually owned by the same parent company – Luxottica – the eyewear conglomerate that owns a huge portfolio of famous glasses brands and retailers like Costa, Persol, Michael Kors, Sunglass Hut, and LensCrafters.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of their most popular models:
Ray-Ban Aviator Classic
Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer
Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
Ray-Ban: Short Backstory
Ray-Ban launched in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb with aviation sunglasses designed for military pilots. The initial prototype was a plastic frame with green lenses before it was redesigned using metal and eventually patented as the Ray-Ban Aviator.
Aviators became a sought-after style after images of General Douglas MacArthur wearing Aviators during WWII created his signature look in uniform.
In the 1950s, Ray-Ban came out with the Wayfarer, a bold, trapezoidal-shape frame made out of plastic. It had it’s day in the sun but didn’t become truly iconic until Tom Cruise’s character in Risky Business made it skyrocket in popularity in 1983.
Ray-Ban cemented it’s place as an iconic brand once the company used product placement of their sunglasses in movies and tv shows in the 80s. Ever since, Ray-Bans have been fixtures on celebrities from Brad Pitt and Justin Bieber to Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyoncé.
Oakley History and Founding
Unlike Ray-Ban, Oakley wasn’t born out of an optical lab. Founded in 1975 by Jim Jannard in his garage, the fledgling company initially sold handlebar grips for motocross. Oakley didn’t even create eyewear until 1980 when the company launched a pair of goggles called O-Frame.
From there, Oakley branched out from motocross to ski goggles and eventually into sport and tactical sunglasses.
Despite it’s humble beginnings, Oakley ended up becoming an official eyewear provider for the U.S. military given it’s technological innovations and rigorous impact-testing in the field. Oakley SI (the Oakley Standard Issue division) actually produces ballistic and tactical-approved eyewear for both the military and law enforcement agencies.
For regular civilians, Oakley offers a wide range of ANSI-rated athletic and safety glasses for everything from cycling and skiing, to shooting and training glasses.
Ray-Ban vs. Oakley: Style
When it comes to style, both Ray-Ban and Oakley have plenty of it. There’s no denying that sporting a pair of Ray-Bans or Oakleys automatically adds glamour and sex appeal to both men and women (and all genders) alike.
For Hollywood royalty or a rock n’ roll vibe that will dazzle poolside or make a fashion statement for a night on the town, Ray-Ban is where it’s at. The New Wayfarer, the Justin, or one of their round metal frames always hit the mark.
And if you’re wearing a leather jacket? Gotta pull a Top Gun with a pair of mirrored Aviators.
Ray-Ban vs. Oakley: Frame
Both Ray-Ban and Oakley use high quality materials in the making of their frames. Ray-Ban’s frames are built for everyday use while Oakley is more focused on protection and performance with durable, flexible frames that can withstand impact.
Ray-Ban uses various materials including acetate (a plant-based synthetic plastic), nylon, titanium and other metals in their sunglasses and eyeglasses.
Acetate frames like the Wayfarer are smooth and seamless because they cut them from a single block. If you’ve ever owned or tried on a pair of Ray-Ban knockoffs, you’ll see and feel the difference in the details – the real thing has perfectly aligned fit and edges with hinges that open and close smoothly.
Oakley makes frames with the same basic components, but they also create their own proprietary materials like the lightweight, indestructible O Matter™ frame and Unobtainium™ temple and nosepad grips.
They also utilize a special “3-point fit” technology, where the frame only makes contact with your head at 3 points:
Oakley’s signature straight temple arms work because the temple tips hug your head rather than holding on behind your ears. You’ll also find several wraparound shield frames in addition to low-profile half-rim sports sunglasses, whereas the majority of Ray-Bans are full-rim frames.
Ray-Ban vs. Oakley: Lenses
Ray-Ban and Oakley both produce excellent lenses, giving you high definition color vibrancy as well as crisp, crystal-clear views.
Naturally, their sunglasses provide 100% UV protection and both companies offer polarized lenses for even more clarity in bright conditions.
Let’s take a look their most popular lens technologies: Ray-Ban’s Chromance and Oakley’s Prizm.
What you might not know is that Chromance lenses use the same technology as Oakley’s Prizm (courtesy of the fact that they’re both Luxottica companies).
Prizm lenses come in both polarized and non-polarized options, plus there are sport-specific Prizms that cater to the visual environments of each activity. For example, Prizm Golf lenses enhance greens and browns while Prizm Deep Water filters out blues, adding reds and greens for better contrast on the open ocean.
Bottom line? Given that Chromance and Prizm lenses use the same technology, there isn’t a huge difference between the two unless you need sport-specific lenses.
Ray-Ban vs. Oakley: Price
Let’s face it, a pair of Ray-Ban or Oakley sunglasses isn’t going to come cheap. You’re going to have spend 3 figures on either brand no matter how you slice it. But is one a better value than the other?
In general, you’ll find both brands pretty neck and neck in price for their everyday eyewear collections, setting you back between $150-$175 per pair.
Oakley might have a slight edge over Ray-Ban here as some of their most popular frames like the Gascan start a little over $100.
However, if you’re getting one of their performance sport sunglasses, Oakley will definitely get more expensive than Ray-Ban. Their highly technical lens and frame innovations start to add up, with a base price range between $180-$220.
One good way of getting a good deal on Ray-Bans or Oakleys is by buying through an authorized retailer that offers discounts and promos. Check EyeBuyDirect, GlassesUSA, Gaffos or SmartBuyGlasses for the best deals.
You can also get prescription lenses through any one of these shops too.
Which Brand Is Better For You?
If style and fashion is your thing, Ray-Bans are a no-brainer. Their iconic frames never get old – plus, they come out with modern versions that look fresh and new even though the “bones” of the original is still in there.
On the other hand, for an active adventurer or endurance athlete, Oakley is your jam. Between their ergonomically-designed wraparound frames and precision performance lenses, you’ll be better equipped to go faster, longer, and harder in one of their sunglasses.