5 Feb 2008
Stylish Shades(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 02,2008)
|Highlights from the latest sunglasses collection of Wood Optic S.A. of Luxembourg include a wood model with temples featuring embedded golden rings and a metal aviator-style with crystal-decorated frames|
Apart from shielding eyes from UV light, sunglasses serve as important fashion accessories that add a funky touch
Edgy designs, large frames, decorative details and mixed materials are among the prominent features of the eye-dazzling range of sunglasses that is currently turning up the heat in global markets.
For instance, Hong Kong's industry veteran, V.I.P. Optical Int'l Ltd, supplies an assortment of sizeable sunglasses with multihued and embellished frames in metal - such as titanium, stainless steel, nickel silver and Monel - cellulose acetate, or a combination of metal and acetate.
"Large-framed, glamorous and decorative sunglasses are popular because they make the wearer stand out in the crowd," notes founder and Managing Director Harvey Fung. "The current trend for large frames has been around for a couple of years and will stay for the next 12 months."
Also common is the use of gemstones and cubic zirconia for adornment, he observes, stressing however that tastes vary among markets.
"For example, in Southeast Asia consumers don't like white frames," he points out. "In South America and South Africa, though, they like bold colours."
Mr Fung also reports that the US market is the most conservative in terms of both colour and style, while European buyers are the most trend-conscious and progressive.
With more than 44 years' experience in eyewear design and production, the family-run business supplies globally-popular, own-brand ranges created by in-house designers. The firm also serves OEM clients.
"The key to our long success in the industry comes down to a combination of working hard and smart to ensure we stay ahead of trends," comments Mr Fung.
Focusing on the high-end is Wood Optic S.A., which reports growing demand for sunglasses in luxury materials such as buffalo horn, wood and combinations of wood and acetate, or wood and precious metals such as gold.
To meet these needs, Wood Optic has launched a Moon line of sunglasses sporting Tanganyika wood frames available in two shades - Macassar ebony or cherry - with gold or silver detailing.
"These unique sunglasses were a gold medal winner at Silmo 2007, and we have received many orders for them," says International Sales Manager Josm Nom.
He underscores the popularity of large eyepieces that are square for men and feminine-looking for women. "There is also an increase in designs that are as cutting-edge as any fashion item," Mr Nom adds, citing the example of Korloff hand-finished sunglasses boasting such luxury detailing as the use of diamonds.
With a presence in 45 countries, Wood Optic manufactures in Luxembourg and its sunglasses are sold through carefully selected high-end retailers in markets such as the US, France and Japan.
Also targeting upscale consumption is relative newcomer Luxurious View Optical (HK) Ltd, whose Jhan line includes a collection of handmade sunglasses with precious metal and stone detailing.
"There will be growing demand for sunglasses using gemstones and precious metals such as gold," predicts General Manager Jason Wong.
"Our sunglasses are an extension of jewellery, combining the elegance and materials used in jewellery with the practicality of eye-protective glasses," he says, noting that the firm's designer formerly worked in jewellery design.
"We have fine craftsmanship and we can hand-make these unique glasses in 30-40 days. Not many companies in China can provide this quality of jewellery-style glasses," Mr Wong claims.
He adds that the Jhan range also includes machine-made glasses that are fast gaining popularity. Rolling out new models every six months, the company is seeing its biggest market growth in the US.
"There is a definite preference for medium-sized to large frames, although the lens shape is largely defined by client needs," Mr Wong states.
The remark is echoed by Jeou Shenq Industrial Co Ltd, which focuses on unisex sunglasses.
"The predominant trend is towards medium-sized frames in classic shapes with added detailing," says spokesman Thomas Liu, pointing out that Europe is quicker to embrace the latest trends than the US.
Counting a number of international department stores and high-profile companies as clients, the company introduces about 10 new styles each month and is planning to develop its own brand.
"Our designs, like those of many companies, are influenced by what the big brands and fashion houses are doing," says Mr Liu. "Customers are attracted to our products because of our strong design capabilities, expert manufacturing skills and use of hi-tech machinery."
Jeou Shenq engages mainly in OEM business, as does Wenzhou Dongtian Glasses Mfg Co Ltd, whose sunglasses are particularly popular in Europe and the US.
"Current hot sellers are those glasses with a largish frame, decorative detailing and a combination of materials," advises Sales Manager Mary Yu. "We expect the biggest growth to come from the US in the next 12 months as it's a big market."
She says many of the firm's clients are chain stores lured by the company's quality-and-price combination and fast turnaround.
The eye-catching sunglasses from these and other manufacturers look set to put a sunny smile on traders and consumers the world over.
Year Established: 1980
Year Established: 1981
Year Established: 2005
V.I.P. Optical Int'l Ltd
Year Established: 1965
Year Established: -
|Wood Optic S.A.
Op der Hei 11a, L-9809 Hosingen
|Year Established: 1985|
Major Product Categories: optical and sunglasses frames
Brands & Certificates: Gold & Wood and Korloff; Gold Silmo Awards
Minimum Order: -
Monthly Production Capacity: 6,000 pieces
Delivery Time: 6 weeks
Factory Size & Location: 1,200 square metres; Luxembourg