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Hong Kong Optical 1999 - Product Trends


1999


THE HEAT IS ON
Clip-On Spectacles

VITAL ACCESSORY
Fashion Sunglasses

SPECS APPEAL
Children's/Students' Frames

SEEING COLOURS
Multicoloured Frames

THE HEAT IS ON
Clip-On Spectacles

FOR wearers of spectacles, clip-on sunglasses are a real boon. You don't need two pairs of glasses when the sun peeks its head out from behind the clouds. And with all kinds of great designs hitting the market, they look stylish, too.

Hong Kong manufacturers are up to date with the latest trends in this competitive field, and none more so than Keyview Optical Int'l Ltd. This young and forward-looking company, founded in 1992, has made a heavy investment in design.

"We put a lot of effort into getting a good design team together. We go to great lengths to be original," says chief designer Tom Davies. "The company has a lot of experience in working with metal, so we can offer stainless steel frames which are really beautifully finished. The fact that we are a relatively new and small firm means that more radical designs make it to the manufacture stage."

Keyview plans to launch a new clip-on design, which it plans to get patented. This is scheduled to appear at the Hong Kong Optical Fair in November.

As with all the companies interviewed, Keyview uses industry standard UV400/CR39 lenses for its sunglasses. All its current business is OEM work, but it is looking to launch its own brand in the future. QC is strict and all design, manufacture and quality inspection is done in-house.

Major markets are the US and Europe, minimum order is 300 pairs and delivery after order confirmation takes about 90 days.

Kelfred Optical Ltd, established in 1986, also makes an impressive range of clip-ons. Manager Joe Kwok is keen to point out that the styling of this extensive range is kept as updated as possible. "We have in-house designers who come out with a whole series of contemporary designs each year. Very strict quality control and top-quality materials sourced from Japan mean that we can offer a durable, stylish and contemporary-looking product. This is why we do so well in demanding developed markets like Europe," Kwok says.

Kelfred produces its own brand, Eiffel Tower. OEM accounts for about 10-20% of business. Minimum order is 300 pairs per model, for delivery 90 days after order confirmation.

Another company concentrating on getting genuinely contemporary designs to clients is Long Green Optical Mfy Co Ltd. The new lines from this four-year-old firm contain a number of magnetic clip-on models, all produced under strict conditions of quality control.

Magnetic clip-ons are a trend which is set to have a big influence on the clip-on market. Marketing executive Shirley Tang is enthusiastic about the prospects for the company's latest designs: "Design is very important to us, as one of our major markets is Europe, where shabby design or quality is simply not tolerated. Our philosophy is that whatever the client wants, we will provide it within reason.

"We do all kinds of styles of magnetic and non-magnetic clip-ons, and we can deliver in a whole range of colours. We have a competitively priced product that is strictly quality-controlled, and we have a delivery and after-sales service that is second to none," Tang says.

Delivery time after order confirmation is 75 days, for a minimum order of 300 pairs.

Mech-Tronic Precision Mfg Ltd makes magnetic clip-ons, as well as a whole range of more traditional non-magnetic models. Its ace-in-the-hole, however, is a new design, by managing director and chief designer Raymond Leung, that combines flip-down lenses with clip-ons.

"This is a whole new concept, and one that I'll be patenting if the response looks good. The great thing about these clip-on flip-downs is that they can be customised to fit any frame at the optician's. This means clients can come in and the clip-ons can be arranged to fit their glasses there and then," says Leung.

Able to provide OEM services, Mech-Tronic produces high-quality products which sell well in tough markets like the US, Canada and Europe. The designs are up to date and competitively priced. Delivery after order confirmation takes about 90 days.

Each of these Hong Kong manufacturers offers competitive FOB Hong Kong prices that vary according to the number and type of clip-on lenses ordered.

Written by Martin Snape


VITAL ACCESSORY
Fashion Sunglasses

THERE is no doubt about the transforming qualities of sunglasses. They can lend an air of sophistication or solemnity, or they can be fun, frivolous, mysterious or menacing. Fashion icons and celebrities have lent particular credibility to these small pieces of glass and plastic: think Jackie O and John Lennon, and their trademark sunglasses immediately spring to mind.

Hong Kong manufacturers cater to every taste and budget with an increasingly diverse array of shapes and designs. ELPS Ltd manufactures several hundred different styles at its 100-worker factory in Guangzhou, mainland China. It also offers accessories such as spectacle cases and chains.

In the collection is a range of wraparound plastic glasses in various colours which are both stylish and contemporary. These are available in four sizes and sell for HK$22-25 a pair.

The main market is Europe, says manager Philip Wong, and the company accepts OEM orders. In the business since 1991, ELPS has a production capacity of 100,000 pairs per month and accepts minimum orders worth US$4,000. Delivery takes 4-6 weeks after order confirmation.

Fashionable styles and modern materials are the hallmark of Genuine International Investment Ltd's range of sunglasses. Established in 1989, the company also manufactures spectacle frames in both metal and acetate for export to Germany, the UK and US, where the sunglasses appear under the brand name Scorpio.

The firm's factory is located in Shenzhen, on the mainland, which produces 150,000 sunglasses a month. Accepting minimum orders of 300 pieces per model per size, the company undertakes to deliver three months after order confirmation.

Included in Genuine's extensive range is model RD-2413 with mirror-coated lenses (US$7 a pair, FOB Hong Kong); RD-1441A which features CR39 UV lenses (US$7.20); and model TD-405 acetate half-rim sunglasses, also with CR39 UV lenses (US$6.40).

Optical frames and sunglasses have been the business of Auto-Winner Ltd since 1996. The company has a production capacity of 100,000 pairs per month. An OEM manufacturer, Auto-Winner accepts minimum orders of 500 pairs for OEM orders and 150 for brands. Delivery takes about 90 days after order confirmation.

Model M9761 has a plastic front frame and metal temple and sells for US$14 FOB Hong Kong; the M9780, a stylish model that combines matt and shiny metals, is priced at US$11.50; and model M9768 is a patented design and costs US$13.50. Auto-Winner's main markets are the UK, Taiwan, Malaysia and Italy where its products appear under the brand name Maniac.

Established in 1973, Swank International Optical Co Ltd was the first lens manufacturer in Hong Kong to receive ISO 9000 certification and is one of the world's top manufacturers in terms of volume production, says ODM account manager Alexander Kronemann. The company has three factories on the mainland which manufactures injection, metal and handmade optical frames, sunglasses, prescription lenses and sunglass lenses. According to Kronemann, 98% of Swank's business is OEM-driven.

"Unlike optical glasses which you can only buy from specialised outlets, sunglasses sell anywhere — ours are sold in optical shops, high-end department stores and even sports stores. Not only are sunglasses useful, they are also seen as a fashion accessory," says Kronemann.

Major markets include Europe, the US, Thailand and the mainland. In 1997 Swank introduced its Bruno Banani range, which includes metal-, plastic- and rubber-framed styles in metallic colours, selling for US$10-15 a pair FOB Hong Kong.

The company requires a minimum order of 300 pairs per model, to be delivered 6-12 weeks after order confirmation, depending on the product category.

Unusual shapes, wavy-edged frames and strong metallic colours (bronze, gold, silver and pewter) are the stamp of Increase Benefit Optical Mfy Ltd's new F.O.B.E.T., Linden and Metallo lines. Typical prices range from US$14 to US$15 FOB Hong Kong for the F.O.B.E.T. line; US$11-US$12 for the Linden line; and US$11-US$13 for the Metallo line.

The company has been manufacturing unisex, men's, women's and children's glasses, sunglasses and frames since it started business in 1996. Production capacity is about 16,000 pairs of sunglasses a month at its factory on the mainland, says manager Ella Szeto. The company accepts minimum orders of 300 pairs per style, for delivery three months after order confirmation.

Increase Benefit's main markets are Germany, Switzerland and Hong Kong, says Szeto, and other markets are in the pipeline.

Written by VC Jones


SPECS APPEAL
Children's/Students' Frames

HONG Kong is home to some of the world's finest children's eyewear manufacturers. Long gone are the days when students were taunted at school for wearing spectacles; stylish glasses are now the norm for children and teenagers.

Euroframes Ltd creates cool metallic frames with funky colours and striped temples. Typical spectacles come in a variety of hues, rainbow colours, plain silver or monocoloured, in shapes the trendy child would not be seen without, with prices ranging from HK$27.50 to HK$43 a pair FOB Hong Kong.

Established in 1991, the company employs more than 300 workers. Delivery takes 60-90 days from order confirmation, for a minimum order of 500 pairs. Managing director Helen Au says: "Germany is still our strongest market, followed by the UK ... All our frames are fitted to a European Standard nose — we do have our standard nose system to control this point.

"We have a big variety of collections, which really fits the different requirements of our customers. If we do make a mistake, we really care about it. Our company slogan is 'Committed to service'. Lots of our ideas come from our customers," says Au.

Fortuna Optical Fty Ltd was founded in 1980 and creates 50,000 plastic handmade and metal frames per month. It exports to Europe and employs more than 200 workers at its 6,000-square-foot factory in mainland China. According to manager Martin Chau: "Germany, the UK and Spain ... buy the most glasses from the factory." Why? "Because we can supply a similar model to those which are made in Europe at only half the cost," he says.

The minimum order is 500 pairs, which takes 75-90 days to deliver.

Typical prices from Yau Yee Optical Co Ltd range between US$4 and US$5 per pair FOB Hong Kong. Frame designs range from peacock-hued models to those with rainbow-coloured, blue-speckled temples, right through to the dramatically understated tortoiseshell-patterned frame, ideal for today's fashion-conscious student.

Clients must order a minimum of 1,000 frames, with delivery in 80 days.

Founded in 1975, Wing Shing Optical Mfrs Ltd creates an array of flashy glasses. It is applying for ISO 9000 certification. Marketing executive Katie Cheng explains how the company fills its customers' needs: "Nowadays, customers like to wear frames with thinner materials rather than heavy metal. Our speciality is to produce stainless-steel frames in which the weight of the frame is obviously lighter. With our in-house design, even thin materials like stainless steel can be styled in different ways to fit in fashionable markets."

Wing Shing offers 100% nickel-free frames to meet the needs of health-conscious customers, especially in Europe. "Nickel-free is an excellent material for customers who have allergy problems. Both source materials and the plating process are nickel-free," says Cheng.

"To be able to target the right products to the right customers, we have to design frames to meet customers' specifications. Styles change quite fast in order to match fashions in clothes in the trendy markets. The most popular colours for spectacle frames tend to be matt and light colours," she adds.

Minimum order is 500 pairs per model, for shipment in 60-75 days. Customers may contact Wing Shing directly for a price quotation.

Allied Optical Int'l Co employs 138 workers at its factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, and produces 50,000 pairs of handmade acetate, metal and injection frames a month. This newly formed company exports to Europe, Asia, the US and Canada, for a minimum order of 300 pairs per model. Delivery takes 70 days for the metal and injection frames and 120 for the handmade models.

Buyers may contact the company directly for prices. Marketing manager Fanny Kwok thinks that customers stay loyal "because our quality is so good and we sell at attractive prices".

It is easy to see how Hong Kong's optical manufacturers are producing a spectacular show of styles.

Written by Liz Moscrop


SEEING COLOURS
Multicoloured Frames

WHY stick with one boring colour? Live a little. That seems to be the message of intriguing waves of pattern and colour from Hong Kong's optical frame manufacturers.

At Chu Kong Optical Mfy Ltd, two- and three-colour cellulose acetate frames account for 20-30% of sales. "Our strength is that we use very unusual combinations. They give people the image that they are very trendy," says marketing manager May Lau. Pastel colours are a particular favourite. One model combines a green pastel front with a tortoiseshell pattern on the back.

The most daring colour combinations sell best in Japan, while Europeans prefer more conservative styles. "In Europe, they like demi-amber in front with yellow, blue or red contrasting colours behind," Lau says. The multicoloured frames are made mainly for women.

Typical price range is US$4-7 a pair FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order is 50 pieces per size, per colour, or 200 pieces per model. Delivery takes 75-90 days after order confirmation.

Chu Kong, which has been in business since 1965 and produces 100,000 frames per month, also manufactures injection frames, metal frames and sunglasses.

Eagle Int'l (Industrial) Ltd is best known for its rimless and semi-rimless rainbow-coloured metal frames. "We spray on each colour layer by layer," explains Vincent Chan, marketing manager at the two-year-old firm.

The strongest market for the multicoloured frames is Europe, where they appeal to a wide age range. "The US doesn't like so many colours, and in Asia gold and silver are more popular," Chan says.

With prices from US$6 to US$10.50 a pair FOB Hong Kong, Eagle Int'l requires a minimum order of 500 pieces per model and delivers 80 days after order confirmation. Most orders are private-label sales.

The firm, which produces 60,000 frames per month, also makes plastic and stainless steel frames, as well as full-rim models. "We may consider titanium models in the future," Chan says.

Multicoloured models account for 70% of the children's metal frames manufactured by China Orient Development Ltd, which was established in 1996. About half of the 100,000 frames produced per month are for children.

Patterns are created using coloured demi-paper which is glued onto the frame layer by layer, says managing director Anna Lip. "We can put colours on the front or the side pieces, whatever the customer wants," Lip adds. "The most popular colours are antique blue, purple, red and green."

Children's frames — 30 models are available — typically sell for US$2-2.80 per pair. Minimum order value is US$1,000 and deliveries go out 15 days after order confirmation.

Private-label orders represent 80% of sales, with 20% sold under the in-house brand Cop. Major markets are the US, Europe and the Middle East.

A blue zebra-like pattern is just one of almost two dozen multicoloured styles, mostly in metal, available from L.B.I. Lunette Ltd. The 11-year-old firm turns out 100,000 frames monthly for the 300-400 models in its inventory.

The company uses both spray-on colours and transfer patterns, such as tortoiseshell or amber, to create eye-catching looks. Metallic twin colours, in which contrasting colours or two different shades of the same colour are used, are the company's newest offering, says director of marketing Candia Tse.

The frames typically sell for US$5.50-6 with a 500-piece minimum order. Delivery takes 90 days.

L.B.I. Lunette's main markets are Europe and the US, but Tse adds the company also hopes to sell in Japan. Although most sales are private-label or OEM, the firm also sells under its Bella Italia and Key Largo brands in the US.

At Always Top Industries Ltd, both matching and contrasting colours are in demand. "Germany and France like very bright colours, over six per frame. In the UK, they like more subdued colours," notes director Clara Siu. The other markets are Canada and the US.

Established in 1987, Always Top produces 100,000 frames per month, 85-90% of which are metal. The rest are plastic and metal/plastic combinations. Prices range from US$4-12 a pair.

Both spray-on and transfer-pattern colours are used. "Multicolours are 80% of our production. The rest are basic colours like gold, silver and gun metal," Siu says.

Orders are accepted on an OEM or private-label basis. A minimum order of 200 pieces per model per size per colour is required. Shipments go out 75-90 days after order confirmation.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna

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