11 March 2009
Forever Green(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2009)
Gone are the days when spectacles were meant only for reading and sunglasses for eye protection. Today, good-looking optical products are as much a fashion statement as the stylish outfits they complement.
This trend is seen clearly in the enormous array of chic sunglasses offered by Guangzhou Xianda Spectacles Mfr Co Ltd. "Our designers frequently visit Italy and France to keep up with what's fashionable in order to come up with new designs," says Sales Manager Doris Yuan.
The Chinese mainland company produces mainly OEM items for overseas markets, including the US, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia. It also offers own-brand products for sale in the Chinese domestic market.
Among OEM favourites from Guangzhou Xianda is a pair of sunglasses featuring elongated rims and super-wide temples with a black-and-white leopard print (model 28073). "We have been making this model for our client for two years and the design remains in vogue," notes Ms Yuan.
The company's own QMA brand hits include a pair of oversized sunglasses with each temple sporting two interlocking loops encircling a stone (model 29040).
Accessorised sunglasses will also be firmly in focus at Hong Kong's Sanwa Pearl & Gems Ltd, an authorised distributor of Kyocera polymer impregnated synthetic opal. The company offers sunglasses with temples featuring this material.
"Accessorised eye glasses have been fashionable for about two years, now, and it is common to see sunglasses adorned with crystals. However, designs that feature impregnated synthetic opal are a new thing," observes Managing Director Henry Fung. "Consumers like big sunglasses with dramatic designs and big chunky accessories."
In the pearl and jewellery business since 1990, Sanwa cuts and polishes 30,000-40,000 pieces of synthetic opal every day. The firm also has the expertise to mount these stones onto spectacles frames, which are sourced from various suppliers.
"For the past year or two, we have been promoting the use of polymer impregnated synthetic opal to different industries, such as watches and stationery, and the optical industry is also one of them. However, the idea is still fairly new and so we are continuing our marketing efforts," says Mr Fung.
"No two synthetic opals are the same," he adds. "They are like diamonds, and it takes as long as 10 months to produce a piece of synthetic opal with a thickness of 1.7cm. So, with no risk of oversupply, prices are very stable."
A pair of square synthetic opals measuring about 1.5cm, for example, sells for less than US$10 FOB Hong Kong, while a pair of sunglasses featuring two such stones would be priced below US$27, although the price would depend on various factors including the order quantity, Mr Fung advises.
Just as cool as jewelled shades are glasses that come with dashing frames, such as those manufactured by Taiwan's Facheng Trading Co Ltd. "Our spectacles frames are designed for discerning consumers who value their unique style and versatility," claims Managing Director Michael Chen.
Among the company's latest offerings is titanium model 6928, a unisex frame that can be worn on its own or with acetate rims that can be attached and detached easily through tiny small screws near the hinges.
"The original frame imparts a simple look, or you can opt for a fancier, more fashionable look with the interchangeable acetate rims that come in 10 different colours," explains Mr Chen.
"By adding or removing the acetate rims, wearers can effectively change the colour of their frames anytime. It is equivalent to owning different pairs of glasses without paying for more than one," he adds.
"Wearers can also change from normal glasses to sunglasses if they match the acetate rims with dark sunglass lenses," Mr Chen notes.
Unusual frames are also the forte of Hong Kong's Winntics Optical Industry Co Ltd, such as the firm's cellulose acetate frame (model 8822-S). This model is decorated with a circle of crystals on both temples, complemented by an attractive hand-painted and crystal-adorned pattern on diagonally opposite corners of the rims.
"These cellulose acetate frames are handmade, a method that gives us the flexibility to produce frames of very unique and complicated design," says Executive Director Cecilia Wong.
"This technique also lends a personal touch and allows us to offer the frames in a variety of colours," she adds, noting that the frames come in red, brown, blue and other colours.
Winntics, which also produces injection frames, metal frames and sunglasses, uses various materials including cellulose acetate, stainless steel, Monel and nickel silver from Italy, France, Japan, Germany, Korea and the Chinese mainland. The company sells mainly to Western and Eastern Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
With such a splendid array of optical products available from Asia, eyewear may well be a focal point for style sightings this season.
TEXT BY CHIARA WONG