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STYLE VISIONARIES (HKTDC Optical,2000)


2000


STYLE VISIONARIES
Acetate

A CLEAN LOOK
Rimless/Half-Rim Frames

SEEING THE LIGHT
Titanium Frames

AN EYE FOR DESIGN
Spectacle Cases

STYLE VISIONARIES
Acetate Frames

IN the competitive world of acetate frame manufacturing, Hong Kong holds its own. Despite strong pricing pressure from South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China, Hong Kong stays ahead with low labour costs and decades of design and production experience.

Ocean Optical Mfg Co managing director Victor Ng also feels the pressure of regional rivals. "Competition is very sharp, especially Taiwan and [mainland] China," says Ng. He says that this has only spurred the company to price lower and try harder. "We concentrate on our service. We contact our clients after the sale and ask them if they are happy, if they need anything, if they have any requests."

Ocean specialises in acetate frames for sunglasses and optical units. Model 2702, a pair of sunglasses with thickly bordered tortoiseshell frames, is priced at US$4.50 FOB Hong Kong. The large, oval frames flare out slightly at the sides, giving the eyes full protection from UV rays. Ocean sources acetate from Italy.

Model 3805A is a chunky black acetate frame. The simple lamination units are layered black in the front and jade green in the back, giving the glasses a hint of colour. A pair sells for US$4.20.

Ocean delivers within 70 days after confirmation of a minimum order of 300 pieces. The company's main markets are in the US, Europe and Australia.

Hoi Tat Optical Mfy Ltd, a manufacturer of a wide range of acetate frames for spectacles and sunglasses, offers good quality and pricing excellence that comes with experience. The company was founded in 1968 and has a monthly production of 100,000 pieces.

"The feedback from our customers is that our quality is good and that our prices are very competitive," says sales manager Raymond Luk.

Hoi Tat's designs emphasise layered, multicoloured, laminated frames. Model 2442, priced at HK$30 FOB Hong Kong, offers a pleasing "cat-eye" oval frame crafted from laminated acetate. The sunglasses fit snugly on the face and the tough unit has excellent give when pulled or stretched.

"We work with a very basic, natural style that will suit anybody," says Luk. "The size and the shape of the frames are designed to sit comfortably on the face." Hoi Tat does most of its business on the optical side but is noted for its design work with sunglasses.

Hoi Tat requests a minimum order of 300 pieces per model, for delivery in 60-90 days. It manufactures on the mainland and exports principally to the US and Europe.

Winntics Optical Industry Co Ltd draws on more than 20 years' manufacturing experience to produce cheaply and smartly. The company excels in acetate frames, which sell around the world under the brand names Winntics and Chevron.

"We have the experience, our workmanship is quite outstanding," says manager Cecilia Wong. "Our prices [are] not at the lowest end, we are in the middle range. Our production and materials are good quality, so we have to pay for that grade of quality." The company sources acetate from Italy and hinges and related hardware from Italy, France and Japan.

Winntics prices its acetate frames in the range of HK$30-60 FOB Hong Kong, for a minimum order of 300 pieces per model. It delivers within 90 days.

Asia Optical Mfy Ltd, founded in 1962, produces acetate frames with crisp, vibrant designs. Model JL-1906, selling for HK$40 FOB Hong Kong, is a clear green frame with a yellow fade-out. "The fade-out, two-tone colour is the coming trend for year 2000," says general manager Gordon Lee.

Asia Optical labels its acetate frames handmade, and sources acetate and spring hinges from Italy. It also applies a non- allergic lacquer, which comes from Switzerland. The company produces under the brand names AOM and Airports, exporting to the US, Europe and South America. It asks for a minimum order of 600 pieces per model and delivers within 75 days.

Written by Jasper Moiseiwitsch


A CLEAN LOOK
Rimless/Half-Rim Frames

TODAY'S spectacles are a fashion accessory, and rimless and half-rim frames have lately been in demand. In keeping with this trend, a number of Hong Kong optical companies offer the latest frame designs at affordable prices.

Kai Fu Optical Fty Ltd makes a selection of spectacle frames for export mainly to the US and European markets. Kai Fu also sources most materials from Europe, as general manager Noel Tao explains: "We get most of our materials from Germany, and German goods are, after all, renowned for their quality."

A European-style semi-rimless frame (6337) sells for US$5.80 a pair FOB Hong Kong. Another semi-rimless design with a European eyeshape (6545) is priced at US$6.80. A semi-rimless frame with special temple treatment (6754) is US$7.30.

Rimless model 6325 features a rectangular eyeshape, while rimless model 6329 is made of Monel. Both sell for US$7.30.

Minimum order is 300 pairs per model, for delivery 90 days after order confirmation. "What we are selling to any potential customers is design and quality," says Tao. "Quality because of our reliance on European materials, but also in design, because we have our own team of designers -- we design all our own stock."

Founded in 1991, Yanta Eyewear Int'l also exports to Europe, so it is with pride that marketing executive Jesse Chow says the company's products have passed the CE standard.

Typical half-rim and rimless spectacle frames sell for US$7.20 a pair FOB Hong Kong, unless they are sold as sunglasses, which sell for US$8.20. The minimum order is 300 pairs per model, and delivery after order confirmation is 65-85 days for stainless steel metal frames, 55-75 for acetate and 120 days for titanium.

All Yanta frames are available in a variety of modern colours, including matt silver, gold and brown. Customers can choose whether they want their frames made from stainless steel or titanium. "Our factory has machinery and technology from Japan which meets the highest standards ... we test every frame and spring hinge," says Chow.

Model SS-0939 represents a new style from Yanta. "It was developed by our own designer. In the year 2000 the eyeshape will not be oval, the fashion will be to avoid complications. Our eyewear is made for the new millennium -- simple, slim, lightweight and small," Chow says.

Wing Fung Optical Mfy Ltd has been making frames since 1982. "We have developed a good reputation because we are not very big. Consequently we can maintain the production of high-quality products," says general manager Jenny Cheng.

Typical rimless frames sell for US$5 a pair FOB Hong Kong, while some half-rim models are priced at US$5.40-6.50. Minimum order is 200 pairs per model, for delivery 60-90 days after order confirmation. "We are a very reliable company. We are very confident about our quality of our products and the service we can offer," says Cheng.

Founded in 1975, Omyl Optical Mfy Ltd has been awarded the Hong Kong Q-Mark. Omyl makes a range of rimless frames, such as men's model SG-10, priced at US$8.50 a pair FOB Hong Kong, and unisex models N001 and N005, both selling for US$7.50.

Unisex model N002 has a nylon upper rim and is priced at US$7. A folding frame, model 8593F, has an upper rim, folds conveniently into a little black box, and sells for US$8.50.

"What makes our products stand out is our close attention to detail," says manager Stephen Lo. "We pay particular attention to the construction of the temples, ornaments and bridges. Our products are well known for the finishing."

Minimum order is 200 pairs per model, and delivery after order confirmation is 12 weeks for the first order and eight weeks for subsequent orders.

Written by David C. Robinson


SEEING THE LIGHT
Titanium Frames

WITH titanium being nickel-free, light and durable, titanium optical frames are very much in vogue, and this global trend has not escaped the eyes of Hong Kong manufacturers.

Moulin Optical Mfy Ltd makes stylish medium- to high-end titanium frames. Titanium is used for the main body of the frame, as well as components such as hinges, rim locks and pad arms, says marketing manager Gary Shiu. "Apart from the screws, which are made of stainless steel and the plastic parts, the rest of the frame is made of titanium," says Shiu.

While some frames keep titanium's original gun metal colour, additional colouring is applied on others, resulting in a range of assorted hues, including dark brown, dark blue, gold and silver. Any colour coating, created by processes such as direct gold plating, is also nickel-free, Shiu notes.

Titanium and parts come mainly from Japan, and plastics are sourced from Italy, France and Japan.

Moulin's titanium frame production is a joint venture with Nikon, which provided the technology. Founded in 1960, Moulin launched its first batch of titanium frames at the end of 1996. It produces 20,000 titanium frames per month at a factory in Chaoyang in southern China. The production facility, staffed by 150 workers, has a floor area of roughly 15,000 square metres.

Apart from making its in-house collection under the brand name Titane, the firm is also engaged in OEM for customers that include some renowned international labels.

Moulin requires a minimum order of about 1,000 units per model, for delivery 75-135 days after order confirmation. It sells its titanium frames mainly to the US, which accounts for 35-40% of titanium frame sales, followed by mainland China, with 25-30% of the total. Other titanium frame markets are in other parts of Asia and Europe.

Kelfred Optical Ltd prides itself on its avant-garde, mostly unisex titanium frame designs. Model TT0243, for instance, has blue acetate rims fitted into a silver-colour titanium frame. "Our styles are avant-garde and new," says export sales manager Joe Kwok. "They are not simple designs. They are stylish and fit the European taste."

Kelfred manufactures both OEM and private labels. In the case of private label business, the firm does the design work. Its design team develops three titanium frame models every month. "Because of market competition, we create new styles incessantly," Kwok says. In the case of OEM work, customers provide the drawings.

Titanium and parts come from Japan, and plastics from Hong Kong. The frames are processed at Kelfred's 10,000-square-metre, 200-worker factory on the mainland, before the semi-finished products are sent to Japan for a 3.5-micron nickel-free colour coating. "The nickel-free plating makes sure the frames do not cause allergy. The thickness of 3.5 microns ensures durability," explains Kwok.

Founded in 1986, Kelfred has a production capacity of about 60,000 frames per month, 70% of which are titanium frames. Minimum order is 300 pieces per model, and delivery takes 90 days.

Europe accounts for about 60% of Kelfred's turnover, followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan.

Light brown, black and silver titanium frames grace the line-up from Golden Star Optical Mfy Co Ltd. Marketing executive Alex Chan says, "We use pure titanium", which comes from Japan. Parts are sourced from Japan, South Korea, Italy and France. The frames have nickel-free coating.

Set up in 1995, Golden Star produces up to 50,000 optical frames a month. Minimum order is 300 units per model. Delivery takes about 60-90 days.

Golden Star sells mainly to importers and wholesalers in Europe and the US. Its 450-worker factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, has a floor area of about 60,000 square feet.

Titanium frames from Chuen Fung Spectacles Services Mfy come in silver, green, black and other colours. "Apart from the screws which are made of stainless steel, and nose pads and end-tips which are made of plastic, the rest of the frame is titanium," says manager Sun Shu Wa.

Titanium and screws come from Japan, and plastics from France and Hong Kong. Exporting mainly to Southeast Asia, Europe and the US, the firm operates a 300-worker factory in Dongguan, on the mainland.

Established in 1994, Chuen Fung requires a minimum order of 300 pairs per model. Lead time is about 75 days.

Written by Liza Lee


AN EYE FOR DESIGN
Spectacle Cases

PECTACLE cases have come a long way from basic holders that protect a pair of eyeglasses, to fashion accessories in a wide range of materials and colours. The ranges offered by Hong Kong suppliers include EVA, PVC, plastic and aluminium models in various shapes and finishes.

Get Choice Industrial Ltd manufactures a range of cases and is also able to cater for the individual needs of its OEM clients. "We can make any shape, from a variety of materials because our factory has a plastic and metal moulding department," says manager Tarrie See.

The company's range includes model 6621 -- a masculine case in brown imitation snake skin with a simple centre hinge; model 6619 -- a feminine design featuring a slightly padded fabric cover and available in several colours; model 8811 -- featuring a press button flip-top opening and key-ring/belt loop attachment; and model 6618 -- a kidney-shaped case with a metallic brown finish.

The cases are made of plastic or aluminium and are priced from HK$1.40 to HK$11 FOB Hong Kong each, depending on material and finish. The company introduces 10-20 new models each year.

Minimum order is 3,000 and delivery takes 25 days. Production capacity is about 50,000 units a month and the main markets are the US and Europe.

A range of modern and lightweight cases is available from Astucci Int'l Ltd, which makes cases under the Astucci label and for OEM clients, including leading US fashion houses. "Our production facility features state-of-the-art equipment. We have a fast time-to-market and use European designers," says general manager Hong Kong/China Calvin Chong. The company also has an office in the US.

Model AFT1 is an aluminium flip-top case in bronze colour; SC1, a case weighing 40 grams, has a magnetic closure and is silver- coloured; and the AS47 series of metallic PU cases is part of the firm's millennium range. The company introduces a new model every 3-5 months and many of the design ideas are client-generated.

Minimum order is 3,000 and delivery takes 30 days. Main markets are the US, Japan and Italy. The company can produce one million metal cases and 300,000 plastic/soft cases per month. Prices range from US$0.50 to US$2.50 FOB Hong Kong each.

Established in 1986, Kong Lung Mfy Ltd produces a range of cases made mainly of plastic and featuring unusual designs and use of colour. "We have our own designs and if clients have a sample, we can modify our existing design. This is quite regular," says marketing manager Natalie Kan.

The company participates in trade shows and introduces 2-3 new models at each event, with ideas being generated by trends in spectacle design.

Model P1064 is a clear orange or blue plastic case with a silver-coloured push open mechanism. Model 10107 has a matt finish and comes in a number of colour options; and model AL1092 has a metallic finish.

Prices, which depend on materials and finish, range from US$0.35 to about US$1 FOB Hong Kong each. Minimum order is 5,000 and delivery takes 45 days. Main markets are Europe, Australia and the US. The company has a factory in Shenzhen, mainland China, with more than 1,000 workers turning out more than two million cases a month at capacity.

Co-Rich Enterprises Ltd makes a range of sporty cases made of EVA with zippered closure. "We use other finishes depending on clients' needs, but this finish is becoming more popular, especially in Europe," says sales executive Joey Szeto.

The EVA models come in a variety of sizes, shapes, patterns and colours, some with belt loops, and prices start at US$0.75 FOB Hong Kong each. The company also uses PE, jersey, PVC, nylon and polyester.

Minimum order is 2,000 cases and delivery takes 30-45 days. Main markets are the US, Europe and Japan. The firm has a 40,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, turning out about 1.5 million cases a month.

Mida Mfg Co has been producing spectacle cases since 1985 and introduces new models every two months, although this is normally a change to the finish, not the shape.

"We keep the existing and classic shapes and alter the finish to reflect trends," says a company spokesperson.

The firm's cases are mainly made of aluminium with a PVC-leatherette finish, feature snap button closure and come in a variety of colours.

Minimum order is 5,000 and delivery takes 45-60 days. Main market is Europe. The company has a 100-worker factory in Guangzhou, on the mainland, turning out about 120,000 cases a month at capacity. Prices start at HK$6 FOB Hong Kong each.

Written by Vicki Williams

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