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Foakley, Fakley, Fokley, whatever you want to call them, they are not the real deal. Fake Oakleys fill the black markets, from shops in metro stations in Shanghai, to street stalls in Mazatlán, to car trunks on Canal Street—they’re all over the world. Chances are, when you’re buying off the street or can bargain on the price, you know what you’re getting into.
But what if you’re after the genuine article?
Some of these counterfeits are good and only getting better, and they’re all over the internet. Before you drop your hard-earned money on a new pair of Oakleys or on replacement lenses that you're expecting to fit into your "Oakleys," here are some signs to be on the lookout for:
If it seems too good to be true . . . you know how this ends.
An authentic pair of Oakleys is typically going to cost you at least $50.00, and that’s if they’re used, old, and probably a little worse for the wear. Anything brand new, straight out of the box is far more likely to be at least in the $80-$100+ range. Granted, this does depend on the model (and also whether the seller came by the sunglasses honestly). It’s always good to check against the retail price and what other frames of the same condition are going for.
If you decide to go for it anyway, here are some other identifiers to be aware of:
With limited editions such as the Tour de France, MLB, or Ferrari models, there are some Oakley lenses that will have something other than “Polarized” or “Prizm” etched into the lens. You can also get some custom etching from Oakley. Some shield lenses, like lenses for the M Frames will have “Oakley” etched into the top of the lens, above the nose bridge.
But if the Oakley icon, either the rounded “O” or the square one is imprinted on the lens, they’re big, fat fakes.
Oakley doesn’t put the icon on its lenses, nor does it print on its lenses; any markings will be etched. If you see paint on the lens, run the other direction.
The SKU (pronounced “skyew”) is an identification that is often alphanumeric. In older Oakleys, the SKU typically is a sequence of 2 numbers, a dash, and then 3 numbers. An example of a SKU for a pair of Half Jackets is 03-609.
More recent editions are longer, and start with a double “O”—the letter, not a zero. 4 numbers, a dash, and then 2 more numbers. An example of this is the Tron Legacy Gascans, which have the SKU OO9143-03.
There are some exceptions, as some Asian Fit models will follow the same format of the 5 number sequence (i.e., 03-609) and then include a “J” at the end.
If you see a SKU with random letters, or a longer string of numbers than what’s been identified above, they may be counterfeits. It’s a good idea to plug your SKU into a search engine and see what pops up. Some forgers are putting real Oakley SKUs on their knock-offs, but those authentic SKUs rarely match up with the model they’re printed on. For example, if you purchased a pair of Holbrooks, but the SKU on them comes up with results for Straight Jackets, you’ve most likely got some fake Oakleys on your hands.
On used models, the SKU may have rubbed off, so if there isn’t one, don’t be too alarmed—unless the seller claims they’re new, and then you might want to rethink that purchase, because new Oakleys should still have a SKU. On wire models, sometimes the SKU is located underneath an ear sock.
Many of Oakley’s plastic frames are formed with pre-dyed plastic, meaning the plastic pellets used to form the sunglasses are injected with dye, so the plastic is the same color throughout. If you were to snap your frames in half, the inner color of the plastic should be the same as the outer. This isn’t true of all Oakleys, especially those featuring designs or metal frames. Those that are painted feature a high-quality finish that should withstand normal wear and tear for a while.
Forgeries often have the color painted on and lack a heavy duty top coat to seal it in. If you fold your stems in and look at the hinge area, you’ll likely see a color discrepancy. Also, the paint often chips, scratches, or flakes easily.
A lot of counterfeiters slap “Oakley” on the frames and call it good—not paying attention to whether the model they’re faking actually has the Oakley logo in the same place. This is especially common over the nose bridge. If the ones on Oakley’s site don’t have “Oakley” over the nose bridge, and yours do, then what you’ve got are phonies. Life style frames such as Holbrooks and Frogskins are popular knock-offs, and the fakes often feature a misplaced logo.
There are some sunglass styles that come in multiple frame materials. For example, the Jupiter line has Jupiter Carbon, which are metal, and Jupiter Squared, which are plastic. The shape of each of these frames is identical, so if you have a metal Jupiter, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fake. You can read more about identifying Oakley Jupiters here.
However, there are some styles that only come in one material. If you come across a pair of metal Oil Rigs, they’re 100% fake Oakleys. If you come across a pair of plastic Juliets, they’re also inauthentic.
Counterfeit Oakleys often have imperfect finishing, and the plastic frames may have raised lines from the molding process. On Genuine Oakleys, this seam is almost imperceptible. You can pick it out with your eye, but if you run your finger along it, you shouldn’t be able to feel it.
More recent Oakleys with polarized lenses will come with a static cling stylized “P.” But they’ll never have a tacky, adhesive sticker that will leave residue when it’s pulled off.
This might seem pretty basic, but not everyone knows the whole line-up of Oakley. They see a pair of sunglasses they like the look of, see it has the Oakley logo, and assume it’s real. Die-hard Oakley fans who like to frequent forums call one style in particular the “Fandango.” Oakley has some pretty interesting sunglass styles, but if you feel like the style is just a little too out there, run an image search and see what comes up. If they don’t pop up on any legitimate sites, they’re fakes.
The “Made in USA” stamp used to be the go-to indicator as to whether you were dealing with a real pair of Oakleys or some fakes.
This is no longer the case, because not all Oakley sunglasses are made in the USA.
Feel free to verify this on Oakley’s FAQ.
Hopefully, these tips will help in your search to identify whether your sunglasses are Oakleys or Foakleys. And remember, if you have the real deal, a scratched lens doesn't mean you're out the $100-plus you spent on your sunglasses. Find out more about refreshing your Oakleys here.
Do you have any advice or other indicators to look out for that will help others from being duped? Please share in the comments below!