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Seeing Is Believing(HKTDC Optical,2001)



Seeing is Believing
Combination Frames

Rays Away
Fashion Sunglasses

Fashionable Frames
Reading Glasses


Seeing Is Believing

Combination Frames

SPECTACLE frames used to be made of metal or plastic. Times have changed -- now they can be fashioned from a combination of materials such as metals and acetate. Hong Kong firms are adept at this hi-tech manufacturing, which can add a variety of colours and textures to these trendy frames.

Always Top Industries Ltd shows what it can do with its range of sunglasses with combination frames. Founded in 1987, the company manufactures metal, plastic and titanium optical frames and sunglasses.

"We have OEM business and we also offer in-house designs from our team of four designers in Hong Kong and [mainland] China," says marketing assistant Jessica Ho. "We supply combination frames mostly because of the increasing fashion demand from younger customers. We work through wholesalers, chain stores and distributors, and in response to their needs, we supply titanium and other nickel-free products for the EU market."

The minimum order is 200 pairs per model, and there is a two-month delivery schedule. Always Top exports to the UK, Germany, Italy, the US and Canada. It employs a staff of 500 at its ISO 9002-certified factory in mainland China.

Kelfred Optical Ltd fields a range containing many combination styles. Combinations include plastic spectacles with extra acetate eye-rims, and models with acetate temples or upper eye-rims. Acetate eye-rims can also be combined with metal frames.

This 15-year-old company uses titanium, beta-titanium, stainless steel, Monel and acetate, producing 50,000 pairs per month, with a minimum order of 300 pairs per style. Delivery takes 45-90 days, depending on the compound mixtures used. Kelfred exports to Spain, Italy, France and Denmark. It sources titanium from Japan and acetate from local suppliers, and manufactures at factories in Shenzhen and Dongguan, mainland China.

Says managing director Kwok Mau Kwan: "Prices range between US$1 for a nickel-silver frame, up to US$20 for a better-quality product, FOB Hong Kong. There is a world trend towards titanium and acetate. These combinations allow maybe 4-6 colours and also give us the ability to sandwich colours, so it is all fashion-driven, mostly for the EU and Asia. The US is a different market, and price and volume -- or designer labels -- are very important there."

New Shun Tat Optical Mfg Co Ltd makes a variety of combination frames, with typical FOB Hong Kong prices ranging from US$5.90 to US$7.15. Founded in 1988, the company makes metal combination frames, acetate spectacle frames and sunglasses.

"Combination frames are the reigning fashion for optical frames nowadays, and maybe represent 50% of our business," says manager Ina Bongrain. "In the EU and US markets, combination materials reign supreme, not for technical reasons but because of the variety of colours and textures that can be achieved. Electroplating can also add colour and interest, as well as protect against the toxic metal, nickel.

"We are moving forward quickly in this area, and firms like us have made Hong Kong the world's leading production centre for these exciting products."

New Shun Tat has a 300-pairs-per-model minimum order and a three-month delivery cycle. Principal markets are France, Spain, the UK, Germany and the Czech Republic. Hinges come from Italy and France, acetate from Italy and Hong Kong, and rim wire and nickel-silver sheet from Germany. A staff of 100 work at its factory in mainland China.

Two acetate combination frames from Wah Ming Optical Mfy Ltd sell for HK$55 (US$7.05) a pair FOB Hong Kong. The 22-year-old company manufactures in acetate and other injection-moulded plastics, titanium, Monel and stainless steel at the rate of 500,000 pairs per month. Says senior marketing manager Yvonne Yu: "For our markets in the US and the EU, we find almost 80% of our business is now combination frames. There are several reasons for this, principally [because of the] fashion for unisex and ladies' frames, but also the move away from nickel, which has enlarged this market.

"Even in the US, we see the end of nickel products in maybe two years. We have a 10-person design team, whose styles are accepted or modified by our customers, many of whom are from designer names. So when we come to market, we are a mix of OEM and in-house designs."

Wah Ming, which is certified to ISO 9000, requires a minimum order of 800 pairs per style and delivers in 90-120 days. Principally selling in the US, Germany, Italy and the UK, it sources acetate from Hong Kong and Italy, nickel-silver and Monel from Japan and Germany, and titanium from Japan. Production takes place at its new 49,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen, mainland China, which employs 2,000 workers.


Rays Away

Fashion Sunglasses

SUNGLASSES are a fashion accessory that complements an overall look, and a practical and necessary way to protect eyes from the damaging rays of the sun. Hong Kong manufacturers produce a range of high-quality sunglasses that takes both these factors into consideration.

Established in 1973, Arts Optical Mfy Ltd manufactures a large range of ladies' and unisex sunglasses under OEM terms as well as under its own brands, Cindy, Sakura and Theme. It also makes optical frames.

The company attributes its many years of success to long-term investment strategies, an efficient management system, the use of advanced technology and strength in product development. Its latest range is centred on classic designs and colours, which the company believes reflect the latest fashion trends.

The sunglasses are made from titanium, cellulose acetate sheets and metal rims, which are sourced from Germany, Italy, the US and Japan. Arts Optical produces 800,000 pieces a month and requires a minimum order of 500 pairs.

The selection of sunglasses in the picture ranges in price from US$7 to US$9 per pair FOB Hong Kong. Delivery after confirmation takes about four months for a new order and three months for a repeat. The company exports mainly to the US, Europe and Asia.

Auto-Winner Ltd manufactures men's and women's optical frames and sunglasses under the brand name Maniac. It also produces under OEM terms. "We mostly look at the trends in Europe among the well-known fashion houses and design our glasses around these. Larger frames are also popular this year," explains designer Angus Ng.

Made from acetate and titanium, Auto-Winner's sunglasses are exported mainly to Asia, Australia, Italy and the US. The models pictured are priced at about HK$100 (US$12.82) per pair FOB Hong Kong for in-house designs. OEM prices are based on a variety of factors. The minimum order is 500 pairs per model, with delivery 2-3 months after confirmation.

Catini Optical (Far East) Co Ltd believes it is important to constantly offer a range of new models. It carries more than 50 different models of sunglasses under the brand name Navy Jack. "Every month we introduce about eight new models for both men and women. The titanium and nickel sunglasses are very popular at the moment," says managing director Weimen Ng.

The company has recently expanded the export markets for its in-house brands to include East Asia (including Japan), Mexico, Canada, the US and Europe. It also manufactures under OEM terms. It requires a minimum order of 500 pairs and delivers 60 days after confirmation.

Catini sources materials from Italy, Japan, Germany and South Korea. Prices are available upon enquiry.

Micron Eyewear Mfy Co Ltd manufactures a wide range of sunglasses and optical frames under OEM terms, including handmade acetate glasses, which have a highly polished finish and a solid feel.

"The handmade acetate market is booming," says assistant sales manager Eddie Chan. "More customers are also looking for polycarbonate polarized lenses. Another trend is for plastic frames rather than metal, with a variety in colour such as transparent blue, green and pink, rather than darker shades."

The selection of sunglasses pictured is priced at about US$8 per pair FOB Hong Kong, based on the minimum order of 1,000 pairs. Micron can produce 80,000-100,000 sunglasses and optical frames each month. It sources materials from France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong. These are also the company's key export markets, along with the US.

Established in 1960, Moulin Optical Mfy Ltd produces more than 200 models of sunglasses for men, women and children under the Titane brand. It also works to OEM terms. The sunglasses are made from titanium, acetate, metals and combinations, sourced from Germany, Italy and Japan.

According to sales manager Benson Chong, acetate sunglasses are becoming increasingly popular. "Acetate sunglasses are making a comeback, and sporty-looking and wrap sunglasses are also part of the coming trend."

The ISO 9001-certified company exports mainly to the US and Europe and delivers 60-90 days after confirmation. Production takes place at its two factories in mainland China, which have a monthly production capacity of 700,000 sunglasses and optical frames.

A typical selection of sunglasses with metal frames is priced at about US$8 FOB Hong Kong. Prices are determined by the materials used and order quantity. The minimum order is 500 pairs, for delivery in 60-90 days.

Moulin's optical frames are made of plastic, metal and combinations.


Fashionable Frames

Reading Glasses

THE world population is rapidly ageing -- and that is good news for the manufacturers of reading glasses. Over the past few years, this has been the fastest-growing sector of the eyewear industry. New technical developments ensure frames are lighter, thinner and more stylish than ever before. It is not surprising that reading glasses are now becoming a fashion accessory, with Hong Kong manufacturers leading the production of frames to suit all tastes.

Some of the most eye-catching reading frames on the market come from Asia Optical Mfy Ltd. These stylish models are made using Monel and finished with electroplated colour. Handmade acetate frames and titanium frames also feature in Asia Optical's collection of upmarket, fashion frames.

"Frames with a semi-finished, rimless upper brow are currently very popular," says general manager Gordon Lee. The glasses use Italian spring hinges, which are very durable and can withstand the rigours of frequent use.

"There is a growing demand for fashionable styles. Users may be as young as 40 years old -- this group is relatively wealthy with a liking for more elegant styles," Lee points out.

Asia Optical also provides power lenses, which are impact-resistant, offer UV protection and comply with CE and US safety standards. Frames and lenses are all made at the company's 300-worker, 50,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, mainland China. "We don't subcontract work out, so we have full quality control and more flexible production capacity and sampling," Lee says.

The minimum order is 400 pairs per style, with delivery two months after receipt of a confirmed order.

V.I.P. Optical Int'l Ltd is a veteran producer of optical frames, having been at the forefront of the industry since 1965. The company makes a full range of high-quality metal frames, including models made from Monel, titanium and nickel silver. Also available are handmade acetate frames, combination frames and sunglasses.

"The market for reading frames is booming," says managing director Harvey Fung, who agrees that the fashion element is becoming increasingly important. "We keep ahead of fashion trends by constantly watching the market and travelling to trade fairs around the world."

On Fung's diary are trips to trade fairs in New York, Milan, Tokyo, mainland China and Paris. "Our aim is to establish long-term trade relationships with international buyers, providing the latest designs and high-quality products at moderate prices," Fung says.

The company produces original designs and also takes OEM orders. "A pre-production sample normally takes around 75 days," says Fung. V.I.P. Optical requires a minimum order of 300 pairs per style and delivers 60 days after receipt of a confirmed order.

China Orient Development Ltd makes folding reading frames small enough to fit into a purse or pocket. Models MC8003 and MC8004 are made from nickel silver and come with an EVA soft case. The glasses feature a folding bridge and folding temple.

"We use high-quality screws and superior construction techniques to ensure durability," says director Anna Lip. The folding models sell for about US$3.50 a pair FOB Hong Kong. The price includes frame, case and a demo lens. The company can also provide power lenses.

"Model MC8004 is also popular with US customers as a fashion frame," notes Lip. China Orient makes a full range of spectacle frames and specializes in children's optical frames, of which 30,000-50,000 pairs are exported each month. "Popular models feature animal shapes on the temple, bridge and rim," she says. "And of course we use a wide variety of bright colours."

The children's frames are also made of nickel silver and finished with nickel 3 coating. The frames all conform to the CE safety standard. The minimum order is 300 pairs per model and per size. Delivery usually takes 50 days.

ELPS Ltd has been in the spectacle frame business for nearly 10 years and has established a strong reputation as a manufacturer of sunglasses, optical frames, eyeglass cases and stands. The reading frames featured in this selection sell for about US$3.90 FOB Hong Kong per pair.

"Buyers need a very competitive price for this sort of frame so we use the cheaper sorts of metals such as copper and nickel silver and plastic," says director Philip Wong. Frames are available in a wide range of colours. "We can make any colour if the customer provides the Pantone number," he adds.

ELPS focuses on producing sunglasses and boasts an impressive range of more than 1,000 different styles. Glasses produced for the European market all conform to the CE and BS safety standards.

The frames are manufactured at the company's 200-worker factory in Guangzhou, mainland China. Plastic boxes and cases are made at a sister factory and supervised closely by ELPS staff. Minimum order is one carton, or 1,200 pieces, and delivery takes four weeks.


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