A lot has been written about Chanel sunglasses and how to spot fakes. However many writers concentrate on new/almost new Chanel sunglasses. We pick up the baton a take a look at amazing vintage Chanel sunglasses.
Rare Chanel sunglasses are hot property, many styles are actively sought by top celebrities and serious vintage collectors. The little information available is often downright confusing, so I compiled this overview guide to try to help you authenticate your vintage sunglasses.
The information here is specifically for sunglasses made around the late 80s and early 90s. As with things all vintage, our research is always on-going, so if you have any interesting information please let us know and leave a comment!
Chanel first began to add 'Chanel' stamping and a model number on their sunglasses around 1988. Interestingly Chanel sunglasses at the time were sold exclusively through Chanel boutiques in limited numbers to maintain exclusivity. The Chanel hot stamping always appeared on the right arm (glasses held in front of you). And the ‘Made in Italy’ on the opposite side on the left arm. Chanel sunglasses are always made in Italy and never France or Paris.
Early model numbers
The sunglass equivalent of a ‘serial’ number is made up of two sets of numbers. These are found on the left arm, after the 'Made in Italy' stamping. The earliest coding see below, consisted 0xxx/xx, 4 digits followed by 2 digit number. This system was seen on sunglasses produced around 1988-1989.
Here we see 0004 model number/ 11 is the colour.
These are the documented colours made during this period:
- 0xxx/80 White
- 0xxx/10 Black
- 0xxx/11 Matt Black - shown above
- 0xxx/12 Brown
Special limited edition colours such as red or pink are highly collectible and are usually double the price on the pre-owned resell market.
As demand for Chanel sunglasses grew in the 90s, newer styles and colours were offered and serial number extended to 014xx / 9xxx5. 5 digits followed by 5 digit number. This system was introduced on sunglasses made from 1990 - 1994:
Here we see the 01450 is the model number/ 94305 is the colour.
These are the documented colour made during this period:
- 014xx / 94305 Black - shown above
- 014xx / 91235 Brown
- 014xx / 90405 Matt Black
Most popular styles made around this time:
- 01450 (quilted CC arm - very popular) - example shown above
- 04152 (classic plain with CC side logo)
Chanel Lenses are made from CR39 plastic and is produced by a company called PPG. This material revolutionized lens making. Half as heavy as glass, far less likely to shatter, and optical quality nearly as good as glass. CR-39 is heated and poured into optical quality glass molds - adapting the qualities of glass very closely. Most lenses in glasses today are made of CR-39 plastic, or very close copies (since the material is owned by PPG). And of course they feature the UV-protection filter. During the 80/90s Chanel did not laser their lenses with Chanel logo unlike current models now.
Chanel frames made in the 80/90s were made from high quality acetate. At the time this acetate was the best on the market. The acetate did not warp, it was strong, sturdy and comfortable to wear.