Occasionally, you’ll see this phrase pop-up when you’re searching for sunglasses or their accessories; “Asian Fit.” It seems fairly self-explanatory and borderline offensive, depending on who you ask.

But what exactly does Asian Fit mean?

It’s not (entirely) a marketing gimmick. It’s not a differentiation based simply on where a pair of sunglasses is sold. There really is a difference in specifications between Asian Fit and traditional European Fit frames. Also, Oakley isn’t the only sunglasses manufacturer who uses the term, although it may be the most well-known. The misconception that sunglasses are a "one-size-fits-all" commodity is acknowledged within the eyewear industry, as it's recognized that frames fit certain ethnic groups differently — namely, there is a prominent difference in facial structure between those of Asian descent and those of European.

The cut and dry of it is that Asian Fit frames were designed for faces with shallower nose bridges and higher cheeks. People with these facial features note that traditional frames tend to slide down the nose and rest against the cheeks, making for an uncomfortable fit. Generally, those of Asian descent have these facial characteristics, hence the sometimes controversial name choice adopted by the eyewear industry.

However, as Andy McSorley, eyewear brand manager of Oakley explained in an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 2008,

"'Alternative fit' is probably a more accurate way to define these products," he said. "Some consumers might find these products achieve an improved fit for their face, regardless of whether they're Asian."

How this breaks down in design depends on the frame. It could mean flattening the frame, narrowing the nose bridge, adding or enlarging nose pads, changing lens rake, or altering the curvature of the stems. These differences are only intended to improve the function of the frame, subtle enough to make them more conducive for certain face shapes without altering the look or style of the frames. At a glance, most people probably wouldn’t even note a difference.

As this modification differs per frame style, it’s important to note that this, in turn, has an impact on lens replacement.

Depending on the frame and how it was modified, the lens size may be exactly the same between Asian Fit and traditional frames.

For example, half frames such as Half Jacket and Flak Jacket and their Asian Fit counterparts take the same lens. You don’t need “Asian Fit” lenses for your Half Jacket AF frames. The reason you may see these lenses sold as “such and such lenses for Half Jacket Asian Fit” is simply because it’s easier to tack that extra bit on than to try to explain that the lenses are interchangeable — especially as this explanation would exist in copy that gets buried at the bottom of the page and is read by only the most diligent of product researchers.

But, this doesn’t hold true across every frame style. Gascan Asian Fit frames require a different lens than Gascan frames. If you’re not sure whether you own Asian Fit frames, or whether the traditional lenses will fit your Asian Fit frames, give a holler to our friendly Customer Experience team, and they’ll help you out. If possible, provide the SKU located inside the temple. On Oakleys, it usually looks something like this: 03-609 or OO9223-03.