Everything Old is New Again

by JoAnne Sommers

Vintage styling with more than a hint of opulence. That’s the forecast for the 2011 Canadian sunwear market. Whether it’s the Jackie O look or an updated take on the classic aviator style, today’s sunwear consumer is looking for the iconic styles of the past done with modern flare, says Robert Eggett,Ontariosales manager for SafiloCanada.

As an example, he cites Diormohotani, part of Dior’s new Les Marquises collection. The large butterfly-style sunglasses take their inspiration from the 1950s while featuring the benefits of thinner, lighter, more comfortable acetate, faceted metal ovals, and mirrored, coloured lenses. “This new technology has replaced the heavy and often-uncomfortable frames of the past,” notes Eggett.

Glamour is a major theme in many women’s sunwear collections this season. And who better to evoke the glamour of the past than Marilyn Monroe? The screen goddess was famous for her flare and unique fashion sense and The Marilyn Monroe Collection from Optiq Frames does a great job of capturing that style, says company President Joe Nadler. “Marilyn is a timeless fashion icon and she has broad appeal to women of all ages, from teens up,” he notes.

“Opulent” is how Mike Christiansen describes this year’s sunwear styles. “Whether they’re 25 or 85, that’s what women want,” says Christiansen, founder and president of Venus Eye Design. “They’re willing to go funkier with their sunwear than their eyewear and they like diamonds and bling on the temples. The image isHollywood, red carpet and JLO.”

On some Venus models, Christiansen routers out the frame and fills it with silver dust to create a sparkly effect. And like a number of sunwear designers, Venus also uses exquisite Swarovski crystals for the ultimate in glamour.

“What sets these apart is the attention to detail and the quality of the finished product,” he says. “Customers love that the models are limited edition so they are not wearing the same thing as everyone else on the street.”

The Judith Leiber sunwear collection from Toronto-based Eyenigma consists of nine pieces, all of which are encrusted with Swarovski crystals. It’s a chic, glam look designed for a more mature audience, says President Stephen Kapoor, who notes that, “This is a luxury brand and the wearer projects a rich, stylish image.”

The collection also takes classic shapes in exciting new directions, says Kapoor, citing Channel, which features rectangular crystals on a large oval frame. “It’s a Jackie O-style design. Larger frames provide a lot of coverage, which is great for sun protection, and the soft fronts are popular because not everyone wants to be edgy.”

Swarovski Eyewear has just launched its first sunwear collection, consisting of 11 styles and about 30 pairs, including aviators, round shapes, ovals, and romantic butterfly wings, which is a big spring trend, says Diana Mazzuca, PR and communications manager at Swarovski Canada.

They use the company’s famous crystals to create subtle glints of light and the designs incorporate Swarovski’s identity by including the iconic Swanflower® motif. This delicate design, composed of a swan shape repeated to form a flower, is integrated into the faceted crystal workmanship, which captures and reflects light.

“No matter what colour you choose, it is hard to go unnoticed in these glasses,” says Mazzuca. “Amazing” is a piece with real personality for bold fashionistas and women who are confident in their power to attract. And with a large frame and arms adorned with baguette cut crystals that light up your face, “Ava” evokes an afternoon on theRiviera– pure chic.”

Jee Vice is committed to making women of all ages feel special with a wide range of stylish, iconic eyewear – a design for every mood, outfit and season, says the company’s Calgary-based Vice President Jess Inman.

“Our Jealous sunglasses are so glamorous and chic that I believe every woman would be a little envious if they didn’t own a pair,” says Inman. “They’re available in peacock, brown silk and gold smoke, and the latter features our melanin photochromic lenses, which are the latest breakthrough in eyewear technology.”

Melanin lenses filter out harmful UV and HEV light and protect the skin around the eyes, which can help prevent wrinkles. They also diminish glare and provide extra protection for the eyes, reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, while enhancing colour perception.

Eye protection is increasingly important to today’s sunwear consumer and growing numbers of Canadians are investing in Rx-friendly sunglasses.

“The fact that all Venus sunwear can be made into prescription sunglasses is a huge selling feature because the aging population understands the benefits of Rx sunglasses and prescription wearers often have a hard time finding fashion sunwear to accommodate them,” says Christiansen.

Prescription sunwear is the biggest growth segment in the optical market, says Paul Storace, president and CEO of Alternative Eyewear and Plan B Eyewear, adding that women purchase 10 times more Rx-friendly sunglasses than men. “Our One Sun collection includes 12 styles in handmade acetate, all made with a 4 or 6-base.”

The unisex collection, which is available with polarized lenses, is one of the best Rx-able value brands available, adds Storace.

Women aren’t the only ones who see their sunwear as a means of self-expression. “Men want to look cool but not over the top and they want to convey a sense of personal style without having to dress in designer fashions,” says Nicole Durda, brand manager for the GANT brand at Viva International Group.

Viva’s GANT Rugger Sunglasses are the perfect way to demonstrate style without committing to a huge price tag or wardrobe, she says. Durda agrees that updated retro styling is an important fashion trend this season and says that Rugger delivers it at the perfect price point. The Spring 2011 collection includes five new sunglass styles featuring a varied mix of vintage and contemporary styling. Designed for free-spirited, fashion-conscious men, the frame shapes are classic and feature styles with diamond stud detailing, representative of the GANT Rugger logo.