6 Sept 2007
Eyeing The Future(HKTDC Optical,2008)
|Vision-Pro Industrial Ltd offers modern, highly decorative and trendy frames in plastic and metal in women's, men's and unisex styles|
One way to maintain a competitive edge is to continually try to predict the next trend. But anticipating market moves like that might require supernatural powers, so 1996-established Vision-Pro Industrial Ltd decided to start out with nothing but the best of intentions.
"When we commenced business, more than a decade ago, we took a long hard look at what might be missing in the eyewear sector," relates director Eric Wong. "Rather than individual items, we hit upon reliability, quality, reasonable prices and on-time deliveries."
With these stable basics in place, the firm started the production of a broad range of optical frames and sunglasses. "We were making both metal and plastic frames," says Wong. "We then concentrated on production of quality, handmade acetate frames."
Wong explains the rationale. "You can easily see that frames made from beautiful, handmade coloured acetate, with nicely designed layers of colours and patterns, have an almost unique and prestigious look," he says.
He insists that handmade acetate frames completely match the company's strategy of making good quality products.
"Unlike moulding, each cut piece of acetate has to be shaped by hand into the eventual frame,' Wong adds. "With acetate, there are as many as 300 steps to implement to get a finished frame."
Injection plastic frames using spray-on colouration can never achieve proper depth of colour and pattern. "This explains why lots of designer brands and high-end boutique collections will use handmade acetate plastic frames to enhance their prestige and brand image,' Wong says.
Vision-Pro then turned its attention to the perennial question - what's new? According to Wong, the answer lay in seeking uses for materials used in other industries, in particular jewellery and watches, and seeing how they could be used to add variety. "This objective also fitted in with our desire to always provide fashionable products," he adds.
The company introduced a lot of new materials, including genuine leather, bamboo and other stylish woods. "On the technology front, we have brought in laser-engraving, photo-etching and electro-etching processes," says Wong.
Vision-Pro also puts a lot of effort into designing for women. "According to our research, women are more adventurous than men and form a better target group," Wong says.
"As a result, today we have a wide range of frames for ladies, both classic and trendy, in addition to unisex and men's styles."
Fashionable colours are important, Wong insists. "To complement them, we might add rhinestones or Swarovski crystals as today's optical frames are not just necessities but also fashion accessories. The fact that people, women especially, like to swap frames to mix-and-match with their clothes increases demand, and that is good for the whole industry," he says.
Wong says that when one looks at a frame, the first thing that registers is the colour, then the shape of the lenses. "We adopted classic frames ideas for women from the jewellery industry," advises Wong. "We focused on the shape and colour of the temples and end-pieces, which give identity to the entire frame."
For trendy frames, the firm uses silk-screened patterned epoxy. Other elements are also introduced, such as the natural mother-of-pearl inlay widely used in watch and jewellery making. "Some patterns are electro-etched, which is achieved by a plating process that results in a raised, decorative motif."
Inlays of carbon fibre are used for men's frames. "We do this not for the hardness, but rather for the design elements and the patterns we can create," says Wong. "It gives a definite masculine look and feel to the frames."
Laminating dissimilar materials is also used with men's eyewear to produce a structured, layered appearance, while the firm also employs highly technical photo-etching processes.
Production takes place at the firm's factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. "The plant is presently being revamped and a new factory is planned," says Wong. "Currently, we have about 550 workers."
Vision-Pro has always exported its entire production. "In the early years," says Wong, "about 90% of products went to the US. That figure today is closer to 65%-70%."
The Middle East is one market that has not worked for Vision-Pro thus far. "We did have a customer in Israel but, somehow, business was unstable despite it looking like a good market," Wong says. "We are studying that area again. Other markets include Japan, Australia, South Africa, France, Italy, the UK and Belgium."
Clearly focused on staying ahead, Vision-Pro Industrial Ltd offers stylish and modern frames for all.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Vision-Pro Industrial Ltd
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