So Just How Do You Authenticate Vintage Chanel Sunglasses?
A lot has been written about Chanel sunglasses and how to spot fakes, but the writers of such advice seem to concentrate on new/almost new Chanel sunglasses and fail to take into account the amazing vintage Chanel sunglasses which due to their exclusivity are so in demand by top celebrities and vintage fans alike. There is so little information available, and what is available is often downright confusing, that I have compiled this guide to try to help you authenticate your vintage sunglasses, and to show when they were produced and where they were purchased. I can't find out everything I would like to know so further information would be very welcome! I am particularly thankful to the youtube recordings of Super Dacob whose knowledge and enthusuasm is unsurpassed!
Chanel produced the earliest sunglasses in the 1980's, and as far as I have been able to discover, these earliest sunglasses did not adopt a specific convention for marking. We have on sale a fabulous pair of white Chanel sunglasses from an impecable source but with no markings on either of the inner arms, and simply a Chanel CC logo on the outside of each arm. Yet they are undoubtably genuine Chanel sunglasses as the quality and construction proves. Check them out here and see for yourself!
Markings for Chanel Boutique Sunglasses
Chanel first began to add signature coding to its sunglasses in the late 1980's. These sunglasses were sold only through Chanel boutiques and were produced in limited numbers. All the production was in Italy and the coding on the glasses was quite simple. On the right arm was the Chanel branding (see below left), on the left arm was the Made in Italy stamp, plus a product code followed by a colour code. Below is a sample of each from an early pair of sunglasses.
As you can see the product code and colour code are both five digits long and the product code begins with a zero. The very earliest sunglasses in fact had shorter product and colour codes as shown below on an authentic pair of vintage sunglasses, with a product code of 0016 and a colour code of 80. 00 colour code denoted white, 10 denoted black for example. These shorter codes were used until the early 1990's when a greater range of colours and product designs was needed, and so the standard 5 digit codes were introduced and in fact these are still used today on Chanel boutique-exclusive sunglasses.
Please note that the lasering of serial number directly on to the lenses was not introduced until much later so the lack of an etched number does not make a pair of sunglasses fake, far from it!
In the meantime there has been a minor change to the right arm of the sunglasses. In the early 1990's the letters CE (to indicate compliance with EU regulations) were added to boutique purchased sunglasses as shown below.
Arrangement with Luxottica
In 1999 Chanel began a production arrangement with the Italian firm Luxottica to produce all its sunglasses. This was done to enable Chanel to expand the range and quantity of sunglasses it produced asit began to authorise non-Chanel outlets to sell its sunglasses. This included large department stores and opticians. However Chanel wished to retain the exclusivity of Chanel boutique bought sunglasses - these glasses were to be made in smaller quantities and be more innovative and experimental compared to the ones sold through authorised dealers. To further differentiate the boutique sunglasses a new coding and marking system was introduced for the non-boutique sunglasses. Thus it was immediately obvious which were the more expensive, more exclusive models by simply looking at the inside of the arms.
Markings for Non-Boutique Sunglasses
The new product code became four digits, plus an optional suffix to denote a special finish (eg -B meaning rhinestones). The colour code became more complex to cater for all the new colours and finishes being developed. It began with a small c followed by a full stop and 3 digits. eg c.501 was the colour code for black. Later, to allow for the profusion of finishes and multiple colours a suffix was added, being a / followed by 2 characters (numbers and or letters). eg /91 means quilting has been used as part of the finish. Again this coding system for non-boutique sunglasses is still in use today. The left arm contained the technical information about the glasses, with the product code and colour code first (as described above) followed by codes for arm length and bridge size. (see below)
For non-boutique sunglasses the right arm contained the Chanel trademark name plus the Made in Italy and CE marks as shown below.
With slight variations this continues to be the system for non-boutique sunglasses.
In 2003 Chanel began to laser on to the side of the right lens of sunglasses, both boutique and non-boutique, the serial number of the glasses in an attempt to deter counterfeiters.
Later the word CHANEL was also lasered along the top of each lens.
Dating Chanel Boutique Sunglasses
Pre 1989 - no coding or serial numbers appear to have been used
Product code of less than 5 digits - late 1980's-early 1990's eg product code 0026 is from 1992
Five digit product code beginning with 0 - pre 2001.eg product code 05983 is from 1995
Product code in 10000 range - c 2000 with the production deal with Luxottica
Product code in 40000 range - 2009
Check out our Boutique exclusive sunglasses
We only stock Chanel boutique exclusive sunglasses from pre-2000 as we believe these are the most desirable - better designs and much more exclusive. If you would like to see our range of sunglasses please click vintage Chanel sunglasses.