True confession, y’all. The highlight of my autumn ain’t pumpkin spice. It’s Vision Expo West.
I never emerge from the experience without a renewed awe for opticians’ extraordinary capacity to think with and work from both sides of their brains. One minute they’re geeking out about the complex physics of slab-off, and the next they’re in fashionista mode as they size up the eyewear trends that will delight their optical clients. Who among us toggles so adroitly between science and art as do opticians?
If your optical features eyewear that feels fashionable and fresh, your patients are more likely to fill their prescriptions with you rather than going online. Frame fashion even motivates some patients to book regular eye exams precisely because they look forward to sampling the fresh trends your optical offers.
What fashion trends should you be eyeing for your optical shop? Here’s the scoop from Kerri Ann Raimo, Associate Editor of Eyecare Business Magazine and Vision Expo West presenter. We’ve also got some tips from some of the experts at Vision Expo West on how you can harness these trends to appeal to almost anyone who walks into your optical.
Animal prints are prowling the catwalks, Raimo noted, and eyewear is taking a walk on the wild side as well. The bonus? Even though animal prints are having a ‘moment,’ they are so classic that they never go out of style.
If a client in your optical hesitates to try something so bold as a leopard print, introduce them to a more subtle snakeskin, suggested Jennifer Lyerly, OD, of Triangle Visions Optometry in Cary, NC.
“In the everyday office, try a display that features a outrageously bold animal print frame, surround by related, more approachable looks,” added Lyerly, also founder of Defocus Media. “You’ll be surprised how often those bold looks end up selling!”
Introduce tortoise into your animal print display as one of the more subdued ways to be on trend, offered Raimo. It’s a little more restrained than other animal prints.
“I hate to say this out loud, but tortoise is just not going to go away,” said Vision Expo instructor Travis Reed MBA of Creative Visionary Inc. Just be careful not to overbuy tortoise so that you have room in your inventory to offer bolder animal prints as well. “Some opticals have so much tortoise on their boards, it’s like having 700 flavors of vanilla,” Reed quipped.
The runways are filled with head-to-toe red, and red frames are red-hot among designers, Raimo observed. “People are really getting fierce with color this fall.”
Red optical styles “are kind of a departure,” Raimo admitted. “We don’t know how consumers will respond, but there are ways to ease them in.”
Agreed. Full-on red frames may well trigger 90’s-era Sally Jessy Raphael flashbacks among your Gen X and Baby Boomer clients and they may resist the trend.
But some frames have just a little bit of red as an accent, Dr. Lyerly noted. “A little pop of red” may be all that a more conservative person needs to feel positively daring.
Consider adding full-on red frames to your board if you have clients who have embraced head-to-toe monochromatic looks—black or grey, for example. Red frames can look fresh and totally on trend in this context. After all, we can all agree there’s a good reason for red lipstick, Lyerly notes, and red frames can work this way too.
Several Vision Expo West speakers noted that metal frames are becoming more prevalent. While plastic frames account for 75 percent of sales now, forecasters say the industry headed towards a 60 percent plastic, 40 percent metal breakdown, noted instructor Sharon Carter.
“Metal is having a huge moment,” Dr. Lyerly agreed, “But one drawback of metal is that there are only two shapes to work with, really.” Cut-outs—or what Raimo describes as “plays on the specs rim”—make metal interesting and new. “Cut-outs are flattering, fresh, and much younger-looking than traditional rimless frames,” Lylerly added, “And they’re something you can sell easily in most opticals.”
Rose-colored Glasses—and Other Vividly Colored Lenses
Pinks and purples are especially popular. As ombré tints remain a popular hairstyle trend, they are back in fashion for lenses, Reed remarked. Having a pop of color in the lens flatters all skin types, Lyerly noted. Colored mirrored sunglasses are also popular with customers, she added.
Some popular styles combine the colored lens trend with retro small frames. “Hey 90’s, give us back your glasses!! Who else is loving the candy colored, small frame, see-you-over-my-glasses throwback looks?” wrote Glam Optometrist Dr. Arian Fartash in an Instagram post earlier this year.
Modernized Retro Shapes
“Is there ever a year that throwback style is not in style?” Lyerly asked? This year is no exception, as designers give decades-old trends fresh new twists, Raimo said.
For your optical customers who want to rock the 80s, open their eyes to floating brow bars. “Frames with floating brow bars were big at Vision Expo East,” Raimo noted, “And they’re still so fun.”
Millennials are looking to the 90s for inspiration, and they can’t find the Matrix micro-shades they crave in many opticals, Lyerly remarked. Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian remarked that “[Kanye] sent me a whole email like, ‘You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It’s all about tiny little glasses.’” Millennials, it seems, got the “tiny little glasses” memo and they’re still on the hunt for micro-shades.
Modernized retro shapes can be a great way to breath new life into men’s frame boards, “which are always so hard to experiment with,” Lyerly said. “Men say they want something new, but they often go back to the same old thing,” she observed. Consider police frames, aviators, or other classics for men who say they want to update their looks.
And for men who find it hard to consider anything but a black frame? “For these men, ‘adventure’ is navy, so introduce them to navy and other deep, saturated colors,” Lyerly advised. As a display in the men’s section of your optical, place a black frame in the center and surround it with frames in other hues, Lyerly suggested. Sometimes, surrounding their go-to black frame with more adventurous color options spurs men to to think beyond black.