29 Oct 2008
Clear Sighted(HKTDC Optical,2009)
The streamlined look that features minimal designs based on form and function is becoming increasingly popular the world over
Dispensing with large, chunky and often multicoloured frames works wonders for many faces and fashions, diverting attention to the wearer's face and clothes.
Rimless frames can also offer a professional no-nonsense appearance, but Hong Kong manufacturers have found many ways to appeal to a wider spectrum of the male and female markets.
One such company is AZU Concept Ltd, whose Marketing Manager Wallace Chan has firm opinions about eyewear design. "Today's optical market is overwhelmed by complicated designs and we aim to change this by offering simple, original designs that are achieved through new applications, materials and effects," he explains.
All AZU's products are created by experienced designers and appeal to the fashion-conscious by using temples made of silicone rubber, which also offers extra comfort. "Tone-on-tone or double-layering colour creates visual interest," Mr Chan adds.
All frames are "100% handmade" in Hong Kong. "This is highly unusual and gives us an edge over other companies," claims Mr Chan.
Sleek and slim, AZU's latest offerings include rimless and half-rim versions that provide the comfort of simplicity that the company believes appeals to spectacles wearers of all ages. "We will launch a new collection consisting of more colours and material combinations later this year to keep up with increasing demand from overseas markets."
Also keeping up with heavy demand is Sunta Optical Co Ltd, which offers a wide range of optical frames made from pure or beta titanium, stainless steel and Monel. "Each market has its preference for shapes and colours, and we can cut different-shaped lenses to fit each requirement," says Executive May Ling.
Current offerings include rimless stainless steel models with springs and temple designs, and a beta titanium rimless range that boasts temples studded with imitation stones.
Prices vary according to the quantity ordered and material type, with beta titanium frames starting at US$12 FOB Hong Kong and stainless steel prices ranging from US$5-10. "A minimum order of 400 pieces takes around 75-90 days after confirmation," Ms Ling says, adding that the most popular trends this year are rimless frames with spring hinges and those with temples adorned by imitation stones.
Trends such as these may come and go, but modern technology must keep always keep pace and no one knows this better than Wah Ming Optical Mfy Ltd Managing Director Douglas Cheung.
His firm has replaced the traditional, time-consuming process of product design with a cutting-edge 3D design tool which can generate a virtual digital mock-up that allows design changes to be made quickly and efficiently.
"This process is mostly applied to plastic and injection frames, eliminating a lot of guesswork and providing a clearer understanding of what the finished product will look like," Mr Cheung says. "It also speeds up the development process, which in turn enables us to offer highly competitive prices."
Nowhere is this design element more evident than in Wah Ming's model 12472YH, which features elegant brown horn temples that would complement any fashion look.
Lightweight and non-screw hinge rimless frames are currently in focus at Eagle Int'l (Industrial) Ltd, which sees an increasing demand for these products from the European markets that are its main export target. "Rimless frames with engraving and patterns continue to be popular for ladies," adds General Manager Tony Wong.
Frames adorned with acetate to appear stone-like are also big sellers, as is metal model 15192, which features a temple crafted from shimmering Swarovski crystal.
"Our unisex model 15129 with a top-bar style is unique as it is crafted from one piece of stainless steel and offers smoothness, strength and flexibility," Mr Wong maintains.
"We are proud that our men's model 15129 with the double function flex-hinge remains the only model nominated from Asia for a design award offered by Silmo in 2001, 2005 and 2006."
Fortuna Optical Fty Ltd is another Hong Kong company concentrating on the European and US markets with rimless frames. "We can supply any size order - even a small quantity - and all frames can be fitted with demonstration lenses printed with the customer's logo," General Manager Martin Chao advises. "They can also be ordered with or without flex hinges, depending on the customer's requirements."
Clear-sighted buyers will see that Hong Kong certainly has no shortage of cool designs at competitive prices - especially in the rimless frames sector where new technologies make development processes even more efficient and inspired designers meet the demands of markets worldwide.
TEXT BY MARTINE BEALE