60 Minutes aired this piece tonight by Lesley Stahl that profiles Italian eyewear company Luxottica. If you haven't heard of it, you've probably heard of one of the many brands it owns: Oliver Peoples, Persol, Ray-Ban, and Oakley—as well as the countless designer houses it makes frames for like Ralph Lauren, Versace, Burberry, and Brooks Brothers.
What's more, they also have a monopoly on eyewear retailers. Among its subsidiaries are Pearle Vision, Lens Crafters, and Sunglass Hut. To put it simply, they pretty much run the glasses game. How did they become the Nucky Thompson of the optical world? The report delves into how they first started manufacturing glasses for designer houses in an attempt to make frames less nerdy and more fashionable. As a result, they've slowly and literally gobbled up the competition.
Stahl points out that Oakley, a recent acquisition by the company in 2007, at first tried to remain independent of the Italian eyewear giant, who then refused to stock the brand's shades in its stores. As a result, Oakley's stock plummeted before being bought by Luxottica. Yet, despite owning so many brands, retailers, and even eyewear insurance company EyeMed, prices for prescription frames remain as astronomical as ever. Watch the video to find out how consumers are the ones getting slighted by turning a blind eye on this optical monopoly.
[via 60 Minutes]