Oakley Elite C Six: the $4,000 sunglasses
The recession's over folks: now your bins can cost the same as your car
We're all used to paying a bit over the odds for a smattering of swanky Carbon. Okay, your composite bottle cage isn't actually going to make you a better rider but capitalism would crumble if we didn't pay over the odds for something flash once in a while. How much over the odds has been redefined by Oakley, though, with the launch of the Elite Six sunglasses, the Carbon incarnation of which will set you back a kids-education-fund-emptying $4,000, or £2,454.59 at today's exchange rate.
How much? Well, a lot. and deliberately so, according to Oakley, who are aiming the Elite C Six at someone "who wouldn't blink at spending $300,000 on a car". They're not predicting that they'll make any money from their über-exclusive bins either, it's more of a flag-waving and nose-thumbing exercise to try and firmly plant the Oakley standard at the top of the sunglasses mountain, if that's not too tortured a metaphor, which it is.
Given that the C sixes are aimed at people with more money than sense it doesn't much matter what they're made from or how, but for the record they're, erm, Carbon. "We took examples from segmented creatures in the animal kingdom,” said Senior Design Director Peter Yee in his laboured attempt to justify the price tag on the Oakley website, and automotive racing – where Carbon fibre and vastly inflated sums of money have a long history – was another big influence. “When we decided to use carbon fiber, we went to the guys who have been building Formula One racecars for decades, Crosby Composites of England. They’re the absolute best on the planet with this technology.” The Sunglasses are almost entirely hand-crafted, and each pair takes an estimated 90 hours of skilled labour to complete: given that fact, it's hard to see how Oakley will manage to break even.
Oakley are only planning to produce 200 pairs, and you'll be in exalted company: Lance has a pair of course, although he hasn't commented on how good (or otherwise) the C Sixes are. Perhaps he's forgotten he's wearing them, as they barely trouble the scales at 54g a pair. The Elite C Six isn't on sale yet but there's already an orderly queue of overly rich men in $300k sports cars forming, so if you do want the emperor's new clothes of sunglasses then you'd best get your platinum card out and give the boys at Oakley a bell. Give them our regards, we're going to sit this one out.