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The Difference Between Bespoke and Artisanal Sunglasses

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The best marketers in the business know that just one or two words can make a difference in sales. That’s why buzzwords like ‘bespoke’ and ‘artisanal’ are all the rage right now. Marketers know that these two terms connect with buyers in a way that sells.

Eyewear, and particularly sunglasses, is one area in which we are seeing the terms pop up more often. The most important thing for consumers to know is that bespoke and artisanal sunglasses are not the same. Moreover, some in the industry would argue that artisanal sunglasses do not even exist on a large scale. Let’s dig into that a bit more.

Bespoke Sunglasses Are Custom Made

The common dictionary definition of ‘bespoke’ is ‘custom made’. It is a term that has been around for centuries. Something bespoke is something custom made for a particular person. It is something made to meet that person’s needs, preferences, style, etc.

With that definition in hand, it should be fairly easy to understand what bespoke sunglasses are. They are sunglasses made for a particular person according to the specs that person has put forth. They are custom-made sunglasses that are unique to that customer.

Bespoke sunglasses are fairly common among the jet set crowd. Indeed, this bespoke movement has even gained a bit more traction with the introduction of wooden frames. Those who can afford to pay the price are given a custom-made pair of sunglasses carved from a single block of wood and embellished according to whatever makes them happy. Some truly interesting designs have already come out of the bespoke movement.

Artisanal Sunglasses Are Made by Craftsmen

Understanding the artisanal eyewear concept starts with the definition of the word itself. ‘Artisanal’ is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as something “made in the traditional way by someone who is skilled with their hands.” That’s a good start, but we can do better.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines artisanal as follows:

  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of an artisan
  • Produced in limited quantities by an artisan through the use of traditional methods
  • Creating a product in limited quantities by traditional methods.

As you can see from the various dictionary definitions, presenting something as being truly artisan almost always goes back to the methods used to create that item. But making the item by hand is another essential element. This is where the legitimacy of artisan sunglasses comes in.

Made by Machine

It’s easy to see how a pair of wooden sunglasses carved by hand could be considered artisanal. But things are different when you’re talking about metal and plastic frames. And according to Salt Lake City-based Olympic Eyewear, the overwhelming majority of today’s sunglasses are made with plastic frames.

The traditional way of manufacturing plastic parts is through injection molding. You create a mold – also known as a tool – in whatever shape you want the finished part to take. Then you inject melted plastic into that mold. The part quickly cools as it is ejected from the mold.

The injection mold process creates a problem for eyewear makers who want to market their products as being artisan. Why? Because the process is most definitely not one done by hand. It’s all mechanized. So can a pair of plastic sunglasses truly be artisanal?

The terms ‘bespoke’ and ‘artisanal’ are particularly important terms to marketers. They are important because they sell. However, the onus is always on the consumer to understand what he or she is buying. Just because sunglasses are marketed as being bespoke or artisanal doesn’t make them so.

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