6 Sept 2006
Partial Frames(HKTDC Optical,2007)
On The Edge
|Yau Yee Optical Co Ltd's new catalogue includes a frame (top) with stainless steel mesh temples that makes a strong fashion statement|
Looking for a niche in the optical market, Hong Kong manufacturers are producing frames that depart from the norm. For example, rimless and half-rim frames are proving popular as much for their form as their function - while bare- lens models fronted by a full frame are also in demand.
One company to the fore is 1995-established AZU Concept Ltd, which launches new frames every 4-6 months and currently has more than 100 styles of rimless and half-rim frames in its catalogue.
A popular choice is model 2301, featuring a rimless frame that has a handmade, silicon rubber temple. "This is a very comfortable frame that comes in more than 100 colour tones," says chief designer Keith Ko. "Comfort and simplicity in design are current trends for these types of frames."
The company has a monthly production capacity of 10,000 pieces, and delivers minimum orders of 200 pieces per style 60-75 days after order confirmation. Main markets are Asia and Europe.
An OEM/ODM manufacturer, AZU has its own Azuoo brand that, Ko says, "focuses on original designs inspired by life".
Europe is also a major market for Yau Yee Optical Co Ltd, which has been providing frames on an OEM/ODM basis since 1981. The firm's metal frames include its popular YS series of unisex frames that range in price from US$5.00-8.50 each FOB Hong Kong.
"The YS range of frames is made from stainless steel, so they are lightweight and very flexible," says managing director Michael Chan, adding that Yau Yee continually introduces new, original and trendy styles that are designed in-house by the creative and engineering teams.
Monthly production of 58,000 pieces takes place at Yau Yee's 3,500-square-metre factory in Chongqing on the Chinese mainland. Delivery of 300-piece minimum orders takes place approximately 100 days after order confirmation.
Swank Int'l Optical Co Ltd, which uses a combination approach when developing its designs, is also keen on trendy half-rim and rimless frames.
"This approach is one critical factor behind our success over the past 33 years," explains CEO Dicky Tong. "We research both market and fashion trends, participate in important trade shows, work with large brand-name companies and talk with customers so we have a good feel for market directions and demands."
Noting that Swank introduces new collections three times per year, Tong says current designs include models F3992CU12, F4305MU12 and F4293MU12, which are priced from US$6-10 per frame FOB Hong Kong. "Our decorative frames are most in demand as they integrate the look of sunglasses with the practicality of prescription eyewear," he adds.
According to Tong, Swank's main defining feature is its strength as an original brand manufacturer (OBM) in addition to its OEM and ODM capabilities.
"An OBM goes beyond ODM and encompasses a complete service," he insists. "For example, a brand owner may come to us with his philosophy. Our role is to create the design for the frames, manufacture the end product and also design and produce the case, the packaging, point-of-sale materials and so forth."
Production takes place at Swank's 18,000-square-metre facility in Dongguan on the mainland. Monthly capacity reaches 300,000 injection frames, 200,000 metal frames and 100,000 handmade plastic frames per month. The minimum order depends on the type of frame, but is around 300 pieces per style for rimless and half-rim models.
According to sales director Eric Wong, 1995-established Vision-Pro Industrial Ltd also focuses its marketing strategy on the customer.
"Our team of experienced in-house designers creates frames in line with market needs and fashion trends," he claims. "However, we concentrate on ODM and OEM projects and are eager to communicate closely with customers to develop creative designs to complement their brands."
New from Vision-Pro, which introduces 20-30 new models each month, are models VP3988 - featuring a three-piece mounting style with a rivet/rhinestone design - and VP4247 - featuring curved temples and a curved rim.
"These two models are hot right now," Wong says, adding that the main selling points are popular shapes and unique designs. "Prices range from US$6-10 per piece FOB Hong Kong depending on the materials used." He says materials available usually include stainless steel, nickel silver and Monel.
Production takes place at the firm's 5,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan that produces 120,000 pieces per month. Delivery of minimum orders of 500 pieces per model to main markets in the US and Europe is 90-150 days, depending on the required tooling.
Meanwhile, 1995-established Shine Wood Optical Mfy Ltd marketing executive Paul So says the firm's rimless and half-rim frames often feature bold colours.
"We introduce new models monthly and we find that our strong design elements are a market favourite, particularly our unisex models." he states. "Furthermore, all of our frames are moderately priced and of high quality."
Shine Wood has a monthly production capacity of 100,000 pieces at its factory in Shenzhen on the mainland. It requires a minimum order of 300 pieces per model, and ships to major markets in Europe, particularly France and Italy.
It's clear to see that for something different, Hong Kong will have the frame to keep you in the picture.
WRITTEN BY VICKI WILLIAMS
Shine Wood Optical Mfy Ltd
Siu Lek Yuen
Sha Tin, New Territories
Swank Int'l Optical Co Ltd
Koon Wah Mirror Fty 3rd Ind Bldg
5-9 Ka Hing Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories