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The (unscientific) economics of eyewear: Cheap sunglasses, joblessness and Coachella

April 18, 2010 |  9:20 pm

Sunglasses2 One of the central questions going into Coachella 2010 in this season of the so-called jobless recovery was, "How are the kids able to afford it?" It's $300 plus gas, food, lodging. With unemployment checks diminishing and parents' patience tapped, from which crack in this broken economy is the money coming?

After roaming the grounds during the daytime, when the sun beats down on the polo field from, on Sunday, 6:18 a.m. to 7:25 p.m., we think we've figured it out. 

Cheap sunglasses. They're all over the place, and the absence of Dolce, Prada and Gucci is noticeable. If you see a label, it's usually on a pair of Ray-Bans, with a smattering of Serengeti and Oakley. Many people, though, are going generic and seem to have decided that dropping a few bills on some plastic might be better used on something a little more essential, like food and water. 

 Now, we don't have the data to back this up, but an informal -- and admittedly unscientific, non-polarized -- survey has revealed a tectonic shift in what the kids are wearing on their faces. Don't get us wrong: They still rock some inspired eyewear. But it's been more about color, shape and size and less about what's scribbled in gold embossing on the side. 

Also: Vans sneakers cost $42, as do most canvas footwear. Vans were everywhere, the reigning (unofficial) utility shoe of the decade. They too come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and though they don't offer much in the way of arch support -- nor do Chuck Taylors, also prevalent -- they're cheap and sturdy. Plus, who cares when you're young and bunionless? 

There, we just saved $300. No wonder Coachella was so huge this year. Cheap sunglasses and canvas shoes.

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Lisa Grybowstat of Toronto, right, stops to pose with a friend on the field. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times.