Luxury Eyewear: It’s More than Bling


“Luxury is what you don’t see.” – Coco Chanel

There’s more to luxury eyewear than jewels, precious metals and big price tags. Luxury is as much a state of mind as anything tangible.

“Luxury is focused at an abstract level on people’s aspirations and dreams,” says Margaret Osborne, professor in the School of Marketing at Seneca College. “Consumers look to luxury brands to fulfill their social and belonging needs. They want to project an image of themselves to the outside world, reward themselves for their achievements and earn recognition from their peers.”

For this reason, the retailer’s pitch must focus on the item’s intangible benefits, says Osborne. “It’s important to meet the consumer’s self-image with the concept or personality of the brand.”

As customers identify their luxury brand preferences they are sending important signals about their values to sales personnel, she notes. “For example, the Dolce and Gabbana brand personality can be described as innovative, extravagant, stylish and trendsetting. A customer stating a preference for this brand is signalling that she aspires to this “look and feel” in her eyewear, even if her final choice is a different one.”

Another important factor is availability, says Osborne, adding that the most important aspect of a luxury image is exclusivity. “The more available a luxury brand is, the less desirable it becomes.”

Not that tangibles are unimportant. Price is certainly a consideration — some people continue to associate luxury with high cost — but Sue Randhawa, owner of The Optical Boutique in Vancouver puts greater emphasis on outstanding quality and craftsmanship when making buying decisions. “Things like high-end materials, and how and where the product is made become very important.”

When a product resonates with a client, they buy it, she says, “not just because of its looks but they fall in love with the story. That’s why product knowledge is so important in our industry. In some cases, there are years of family history to talk about.

She cites Oliver Goldsmith, whose story goes back to 1926. “We use this information to sell the product. Clients feel they’re buying a piece of history and this adds to their overall experience.”

That experience begins when a client walks into the store.

Your product and service offering must be carefully crafted to support the “white glove” treatment luxury consumers expect, says Osborne.

“From valet parking to personalized greetings to music to sales staff interaction, your supporting environment needs to be perfect. Aspirational point-of-sale material is critical. No courier boxes, plastic lab trays, unpolished mirrors… all supporting merchandising activities should take place out of sight.”

Collections must have presence, so you need to have many different colours and shapes on hand, says Randhawa. “That requires an investment. For example, I have 100 pieces each of Theo and Anne et Valentin.”

Staff training is critical so they can talk about how the frames are made, lens technology and style news, such as who is wearing what in Hollywood, she adds.

“Our approach is always the same – we ask a lot of “lifestyle” questions, discuss their current dissatisfactions and areas they want to address. This usually leads to a frank discussion about wants, needs and budgets.”

Ultimately, the goal is to create a unique experience that will keep customers coming back. “It’s not a transaction — you want to create a relationship with the client. After that, the bond is solid. The feeling I give them is so special that they remember it and they won’t want to go anywhere else.”

Here is a look at the latest luxury offerings from some of the world’s top eyewear companies.

ic! berlin

ic! berlin’s new silk collection marries technical innovation with avant-garde design, says Katie Murphy, director of marketing and communications. “Our eyewear is made for people who appreciate technology and a high-quality product that doesn’t forego fashion.”

The 10-piece, stainless steel collection features limited-edition, handcrafted sunglasses with innovative new colour treatments. ic! berlin’s revolutionary screwless hinge is just 3.5 mm across and uses a patented forked hook to secure the temple to the front. This discreet, elegant feature creates a streamlined transition from front to temple, reflecting the company’s design philosophy: naked and pure.

mod: Bise

mod: Bise

“Bise”, a cat’s eye style for women, features laqueur on the upper half in pink, red or black, with Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) on the bottom.

High-end materials are key to the exclusivity of ic! berlin frames, notes Murphy. Light, durable and flexible, all frames are designed, hand made and distributed from the company’s Berlin, Germany facilities.

Marcolin Eyewear

Classic and modern, discreet, clean and linear: these qualities define the new Tom Ford spring/summer eyewear collection from Marcolin.

The collection represents pure luxury, with handcrafted materials, including natural cotton Italian-made acetates. Combinations of metal and acetate give the vintage-inspired models a modern touch, while refined, innovative materials result in lighter, more comfortable styles.

The collection appeals to men over 30 and women 25+ who appreciate an artisanal approach to eyewear and understand the value of craftsmanship, along with high fashion and cutting-edge design, says Lada Silva, president of Marca Eyewear Group, Marcolin’s Canadian partner.

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mod: FT0570

Integrating the characteristics of the iconic Tom Ford ‘T’ into the temples and using a 75-step process by hand, help to distinguish the brand. Designer Tom Ford is also an important part of the design process, a commitment that appeals to customers who want a premium brand.

Match Eyewear

The Judith Leiber brand has redefined the accessory category through its cutting-edge fashion and timeless style. The eponymous eyewear collection from Match Eyewear consists of 26 optical styles and eight sun styles, handcrafted in the finest Mazzucchelli acetate, which provides superior-quality optical plastics.

From amethyst to sapphire crystals, each frame is a dazzling sculptural work of art. Adorned with Swarovski crystals made from the purest raw materials, the frames feature unique Italian acetate colorations, such as Bordeaux, Graphite, Orchid and Denim Blue.

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mod: JL 3030

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mod: JL 3028

The collection’s latest additions take a new design direction for Millennials, using metal embellishments. The JL 3030 is an acetate front sun style with mottled metal design elements on each side of the frame and temples. Keeping with the sleek metal theme, optical style JL 3028 features a multi-dimensional metal globe detail on the temples.

Perfect Optical

A harmonious blend of technology and art, design and inspiration, the Premium Collection from LineArt CHARMANT, available from Perfect Optical, is aimed at women aged 50+. “They’re not necessarily drawn to brands,” says Perfect Optical President Adrian Maas. “They’re interested in the article itself and appreciate the craftsmanship, materials and design that sets LineArt apart.”

LineArt uses a patented laser welding process called braising to create a laser weld at the juncture of two pieces of metal; this helps to ensure the frame’s strength. All frame temples are made of Excellence Titan, a titanium alloy that retains titanium’s strength and durability, yet is hypoallergenic and highly flexible with superb memory function.

Vivace, the latest design line in the LineArt CHARMANT collection, is a contemporary interpretation of elegant understatement, characterized by its sleek temple design: two fine, parallel lines produce a smooth, streamlined look.

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mod: XL2113

Vivace models project feminine flair and a touch of luxury and are very comfortable to wear. The colourful upper rim of XL2113 VIVACE forms the striking highlight of the full-rim frame, made of the finest titanium. All colour versions have gold-plated temples.

Prisme Optical

The French-made Charriol collection from Prisme Optical Group makes a bold statement about those who wear it, says Prisme President Richard Stortini. “These are people for whom brand is important. Charriol frames are easily identifiable, thanks to the «C» logo engraved on the outside of each tip. They’re noticeable, not discreet, and definitely not for everyone.”

Designed for people 50+, particularly wealthy men who want to celebrate their success, the eyewear is primarily composed of black acetate with gold or silver details on the side.

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mod: PC7501

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Style PC7501 C3 is a men’s frame in black acetate, with the signature Charriol cable in monel. PC71002 C1 is a luxurious style for elegant women in Tortoise. Made from acetate and monel, it features Swarovski crystals adorned by hand.

Selective in its distribution, Charriol offers independent opticians an alternative to more widely available luxury brands. All Charriol frames are identified by an individual serial number and come with a worldwide guaranty card.

Spectacle Eyeworks

Two stunning new stainless steel styles, featuring 3D-inspired patterns and multi-dimensional effects, come to us from Spectacle Eyeworks. These elegantly edgy designs exude a refined boldness that is sure to intrigue even the most discerning audience, says Director and Chief Designer Mehran Baghaie.


mod: KHAi

mod: Khai

“I wanted to create something that would intertwine the strength of geometric lines and angles with multi-faceted, slightly textured patterns and contouring,” said Baghaie. The result: Khai and Karl, two understated, yet striking creations that give life to the designer’s vision.

These German-made frames feature diverse dimensions, tactile elements, and rich, earthy hues. Each is available in seven colour options, including a burgundy jewel tone and metallic pewter. All frames include a signature case and two-year warranty.


New to the luxury eyewear segment, WestGroupe is proud to offer the ZEISS Eyewear collection. Featuring 14 optical styles (seven men’s, four women’s and three unisex) for those with a sophisticated eyewear palate, the collection maintains the high quality and integrity of the ZEISS brand.

The materials of choice are titanium and TX5, a state-of-the-art material for premium plastic frames. They create ultra-light frames, combined with great strength and transparency.

Rich, saturated colours range from classic neutrals to high-fashion shades, coupled with gold and silver accents for a touch of opulence. Custom-integrated spring hinges, titanium temple tip caps, and titanium nose pads enhance the brand’s luxury appeal.

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mod: ZS-10007

For women, ZS-10007 features a modified square shape that is easy-to-wear in TX5 material. Titanium double-wire-style temples create an airy, lightweight look and are finished with titanium inlays at the end piece.

ZS-20004 is a men’s style featuring a tonal gradient TX5 front with matte finish. A titanium inlay connects the end piece and temples for a signature design detail. An integrated spring hinge provides additional comfort.


Glamorous, enchanted, classic: that’s Jimmy Choo, the women’s luxury fashion eyewear brand from Sàfilo.

The 10-piece SS18 ophthalmic collection offers an unparalleled level of product distinction, using exotic materials, luxurious detailing and Swarovski crystals.

Styles are offered in metal, with a star pattern, acetate (with and without glitter) and combination frames. A new material used in the collection is an exclusive, ultra-fine Swarovski crystal embellishment.

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mod: JC 200

The highlight of this season’s collection is a rounded aviator shape (Jimmy Choo JC 200) in a thin, lightweight metal construction with star cutout detailing along the side of the temples for a sophisticated, playful look.


mod: Priya

mod: Priya

There are 11 new sunglass styles in the SS18 collection, some of which feature ultra-fine Swarovski crystal embellishment. The ‘Priya’ sunglasse feature a signature glitter finish on the temples. Shiny metals and sleek acetates are also used on certain styles.

Jimmy Choo eyewear is designed for women 25+, who are passionate about fashion and appreciate timeless and iconic luxury accessories with exceptional Italian craftsmanship.

Marchon Eyewear

Classic styles married to French allure define the Longchamp collection from Marchon. Wearable and fashionable with easy styling, the collection’s 13 optical and 12 sun styles are perfect for the active woman 30+.

The collection includes a large offering of metal frames, plus thin-profile acetates with iconic details and rich, eye-catching colours. Gold elements at the hinges, leather detailing in the temples and gold horse emblems on every acetate frame exude luxury.

The collection is available in a wide range of shades and bright colour combinations. A finished marble effect on select frames creates an elevated look and feel.


From the Roseau collection, the LO617S features a feminine cat-eye frame made of acetate, with beautiful marble-effect colours, highlighted by gold metal temples and comfortable acetate tips. The Roseau collection utilizes a bamboo-style hinge, taken from the namesake line of bags. Chic and modern, the Roseau line adds a level of sophistication to the full collection.

By JoAnne Sommers

Did You Put that Fly in My Soup? The Service Recovery Paradox


Wait staff have long known that their tips will be higher if they go to great lengths to fix a mistake they made with your meal order. An urban legend suggests that some waiters make mistakes on purpose so they can wow you with an exceptional response to your concerns. They find their tips are higher with excellent service recovery than if there was no mix-up with your order at all!

This scenario is called the service recovery paradox. A customer will think more highly of an organization after it corrects a problem with its service, compared to how the customer would have perceived the organization if no service failure had happened. Needless to say, no ECP could ethically conceive of deliberately staging service failures. So how can this phenomenon be relevant to us?

What ECP’s can do with this knowledge is to manage our rare but inevitable service failures as effectively as possible. We can benefit from the same halo effect by converting glitches into golden opportunities. To be successful with service recovery we need to understand that consumer dissatisfaction styles fall into four distinct groups and respond to each group appropriately.

The Passives, Voicers, Irates and Activists

  1. Passives are the non-complainers. You won’t hear anything from them. You won’t even know they had a problem. And they won’t be back. We’ve all met people who bought glasses two years ago ‘somewhere else’ and never wore them because they felt something wasn’t quite right. Over 70 percent of consumers who experience a service failure never complain directly to the manufacturer or seller. It’s common to underestimate how many of our own patients are in this category. Routine follow-up calls asking them to rate the main aspects of your products and services are the best way to reach this group. You may offer them immediate low-cost remedies for any dissatisfaction you uncover but they are unlikely to return. Use this feedback to improve your service and the customer’s perception of your business.
  2. Voicers complain directly to you and expect you to fix the problem. These consumers don’t want to switch to another ECP, nor do they want to spread bad reviews. They definitely won’t ‘go public’. You will benefit the most from the service recovery paradox if you make the voicer style the most attractive choice for your patients. Do this by working to convince everyone who interacts with your practice that you welcome complaints and that they will be handled seriously. Easy-to-use non-confrontational methods of eliciting feedback like anonymous checklists in-store or on social media are essential to encourage voicers. Handled graciously, this group will become your most vocal advocates.
  3. Irates are the angry consumers who not only complain to you but will spread negative word of mouth to friends and relatives. They will, however, stop short of complaining publicly to regulators or other third parties. You’ll need to roll out a well-planned, comprehensive complaint management system to manage service recovery with this group both in person and on social media. It is best to be prepared with ‘over and above’ compensation for their perceived aggravation before their complaints go viral.
  4. Activists are dissatisfied consumers who use all available channels for complaining (the Better Business Bureau, traditional and social media, regulatory bodies). They believe they should not only look after their own issue but take care of all the other customers who might possibly have had issues with your service— perhaps even with your inability to overcome the laws of optics! Proceed swiftly with the same response as with the previous group, however, be prepared to raise the stakes with appropriate mediation and/or legal representation.

Remember that it is essential to keep an open mind towards complaining customers instead of regarding them as costly, difficult, or a psychological strain. Hug your haters: they offer insights for improvement and will be extremely loyal if you deal with service issues promptly and fairly.

By Margaret Osborne, BSc MBA RO

Silmo Paris: A Truly Golden Anniversary


Energy, originality, dynamism. Those are some of the terms Canadian optical professionals used to describe the 50th anniversary edition of the Silmo Paris exhibition.

Last October’s event attracted more than 37,000 visitors, fully 10.5 per cent more than 2016, and almost 1,000 exhibitors from 42 countries, many of whom were exhibiting at Silmo for the first time.

Among the show’s highlights was the 50th anniversary gala evening, featuring the Silmo d’Or awards ceremony, which took place against the spectacular backdrop of the Grand Palais.


It all helped to create a mood of pride and excitement that represented a dramatic rebound from last year’s rather lackluster event, said Julia Rapp, partner in Toronto’s Rapp Optical.

“There was much more originality at this year’s show, thanks, in part, to the large number of smaller, independent companies who exhibited,” said Rapp. “New ideas are the lifeblood of our industry and it was great to see so many people visiting the booths. It’s a sign that the industry is really healthy.”

Namita Karir, an optician with Toronto’s Karir Eyewear, was also impressed with the exciting new ideas on display.


“Coming to Silmo is a great way to discover where fashion is going and get away from the ‘every day’. Seeing the work of designers and other creative minds also helps to re-fuel your passion for your own practice.”

Sue Randhawa, owner of The Optical Boutique in Vancouver, says she likes to attend Paris Fashion Week as well as Silmo, which she says is her favourite optical show.

“Eyewear has been strong on the runways and it’s a great opportunity to compare it with what I see at Silmo. This year’s show was fantastic for us business-wise. The vendors I regularly deal with had great releases for spring 2018 and I met new vendors with whom I’ll be doing business in the future.”


Beverly Suliteanu, creative director and VP of product development with WestGroupe in Montreal, enjoyed the celebratory mood that marked the 50th anniversary show.

“Silmo allows us to meet with our global distributors and sign new countries for our brands. We launch our fall/winter collections to our European distributors and meet with the key European trade magazines to update them on what’s new.”

WestGroupe was thrilled to be included in a special Silmo anniversary edition of 20/20 Europe magazine, as well as having some of its frames chosen for display in the Silmo POP’UP Gallery.


On the product side, Suliteanu noticed a definite move to metal this year, both thin and fine wire reminiscent of the ‘90s as well as monoblock stainless steel, titanium and aluminum.

Rapp also reported a swing to metal. “There was a huge range on display, from super-embellishment to great simplicity.”

Colour is now universally accepted,” she added. “As always in times of political upheaval, people are going a little conservative, with burnished, deeper tones that are shaded for a very rich look.”

Make sure to save the date for next year’s Silmo, scheduled for September 28 to October 1, 2018.

By JoAnne Sommers

The Italian Scene: An Interview with Giovanni Vitaloni

MIDO 2017 - Milano Eyewear Show

Last summer, Giovanni Vitaloni became president of Associazione Nazionale Fabbricanti Articoli Ottici (ANFAO). This association of manufacturers from the Italian eyewear industry, founded in 1954, brings together over 100 member companies from across the industry via various political and promotional activities, including MIDO, a world-leading annual trade show (of which he is also President).

Vitaloni hails from a family of Turin automotive industrialists and is the founder and director of the eyewear manufacturer Nico Design. With over 30 years’ experience in the eyewear industry, Vitaloni is a keen strategist and enthusiastic promoter of the Made in Italy brand, as you will see in this interview. As background, the Italian optical industry exports over 85 per cent of its production, and employs over 17,000 people nationally with earnings of over 3.5 million euros (as of 2015).

ENVISION: With so much vertical integration in the industry, are there still opportunities for optical industry start-ups in Italy?

VITALONI: On an international level, the sector is very buoyant and dynamic, and in Italy there are many new companies arriving on the market. This phenomenon is reflected in the sector’s most important fair, MIDO, which for many years has dedicated an area to start-ups from Italy and around the world via The Lab Academy. ANFAO supports growth in the sector and the old generation is giving way to the new through the creation of new groups within the association, which act as incubators for innovation and stimulate the association’s growth.

ENVISION: Overall, how is the Italian eyewear sector doing?

VITALONI: Italy is the global leader in the high-end segment. In the first half of 2017, we experienced 3.2 per cent growth in exports for sunglasses and 4.3 per cent growth for prescription frames. After about 10 years of work, there are now dozens of new Italian optical companies, with the majority manufacturing in Italy and exporting internationally.

The vast majority of Italian producers are small- to- medium-sized enterprises (SME), who handcraft their products, with particular attention to quality. Indeed, almost all Italian companies share a long tradition of excellence in the conception, creation and sale of products rich in originality and innovation, and it is on these factors that they base their business proposition. In Italy, today, our growth in SMEs rivals France and Scandinavia.

ENVISION: How has ANFAO furthered its relationship with the world of fashion?

VITALONI: We are part of an association, Confindustria Moda, which brings together other manufacturing associations in the world of fashion, in sectors such as leather goods and accessories, footwear and jewellery. This federation represents 67,000 Made in Italy companies that generate more than 88 billion euros annually. Confindustria Moda offers legal services, industrial relations management and research from its offices in Milan.


VITALONI: DaTE is an event, organized by MIDO, which blends experimentation, innovation, and luxury, and is dedicated to Italian opticians and buyers in the optics sector. At the latest event, which was held in September in Florence, there were roughly 3,500 buyers and professionals (a 40 per cent increase from last year), who came to see a preview of creations from 136 selected companies, of which more than 50 per cent were from outside Italy.

ENVISION: MIDO is already a leading optical trade show. How can it be better?

VITALONI: We focus as much as possible on the needs of exhibitors and visitors who are by nature, and rightly so in these times of rapid change, continually evolving. At MIDO 2018, we will put the spotlight on fostering innovation. You will find a spectacular emphasis on new technologies, which allow for innovation throughout the industry, in the MIDO Tech section. We create an environment that offers an immersive experience for visitors and the entire world of eyewear. MIDO’s success also comes from its ability to represent big companies, while also showcasing all market niches, which are of increasing interest for independent opticians.

By Paddy Kamen

Portrait of a Designer The Phoenix Rises: Philippe Vergez Comes into His Own

Philippe Vergez

Philippe Vergez

Continually reinventing himself, Philippe Vergez is a relentless perfectionist and world-class designer with a new(ish) brand— Philippe V —that truly reflects his values.

Swords connote power and competition, athleticism and precision. Philippe Vergez fashioned his first sword out of wood at age four, and those themes have stayed a vital part of his psychologicalmake up ever since. Vergez grew up in a creative family in south-west France. A solitary boy, he loved the worlds of fantasy and magic, animals, the ocean and making things.

As it turned out, he also had a gift for mathematics. “I was good at it and got a university degree but I didn’t have a passion for it,” he says. His passions at that time were surfing and travel, so he made his first surfboard, travelled the world and later got a job as a sales administrator for Quiksilver in Biarritz. Within three years he was a sales director, but the job wasn’t using his full potential.

The eyewear industry came calling in 1988, when Vergez started working for Oakley’s marketing department for Europe. That’s when he met Greg Arnette and the two went on to set-up the iconic brand Arnette. While gaining experience in branding and marketing for several leading companies, Vergez took a stealth approach to learning the intricacies of frame design. “I am very curious and good with my hands so I started drawing concepts and making prototypes. Luxottica was the first to bring a couple of my creations to life.”

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mod: WN9

Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder and chairman of Luxottica Group, made a big impression on Vergez. “I was in his office one day and he had an emotionally affecting painting of orphans behind his desk. He was an orphan himself, and I was very impressed with what he had achieved as a self-mademan, and noticed his hands-on involvement with every aspect of the company. He told me, ‘Marketing does not make a product,product makes the marketing.’ At the time, I thought it was not only wrong, but stupid. Now I understand what he meant”. Vergez did not stay long at Luxottica because of his refusal to be tamed by corporate culture.

Hard times came knocking when investors in Jee Vice, the highly successful eyewear brand started by Vergez in 2004, decided that he was dispensable. “It was upsetting; I have seen financial greed edge out creativity on more than one occasion. But I moved to Hong Kong and regrouped. I wanted to create a situation where that could not happen again, build a business that married my experience andideals. I joined forces with my childhood friend, Thierry Halbroth, a creative director from the advertising industry, and we started shaping the story of our brand to reflect our values. Philippe V (pronounced “Philip Vee”) is what we are and we laid a deep groundwork before finally launching in 2016.”

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mod: N5

Vergez employs his competitive nature and mathematical acumen in the development of frames that excel from every angle. “My math and geometry skills help me see in four dimensions as I envision frames. I studied morphology to ensure my designs adapt to the face and are super comfortable. The fourth dimension is the way the frame enhances beauty and the inner sense of being. When I translate those values into design and the wearer says, ‘oh, wow’, I feel amazingly satisfied.”

By Paddy Kamen

Lenses for Sale

LensesForSaleBy Brian P. Dunleavy

These days, more and more clients visit optical shops after seeing advertisements for spectacle lens products, either on television or in major magazines – and Dennis Higgins believes this is both good and bad.

“In general, it’s great that eyeglass wearers are more informed about lens products, whether they are certain lens designs or coatings,” says the optician and owner of Higgins Fine Opticians in London, ON. “But with advertisements, they don’t get all the facts. Lenses aren’t like prescription drugs. When you go to a pharmacist, you have a prescription for one drug that’s supposed to treat a specific condition. But with eyeglasses lenses, the potential combination of products is endless – reading glasses, lenses for distance, progressives, sports glasses, tints and coatings. Just because clients see something advertised doesn’t mean it will be the right product for them.”

Efforts to brand various spectacle lens products with consumers have created an interesting conundrum for eyecare professionals (ECPs): on one hand, independents struggling in a competitive marketplace appreciate anything that drives more traffic through their doors and many have sought to leverage branding programs by prominently displaying signage and other point-of-purchase materials for products their clients may see advertised on TV or in print.

“If you can do a good window promotion and if clients see that name and it draws them in the door, once they’re in, you can get them to the products they need,” notes Higgins. “That’s the trick to get them in the door.”

But Deborah Perry, optician and owner of Optika Eclectic Eyewear in Saskatoon, recalls a few instances in which clients were so impressed by the lenses they saw advertised – either by the touted technology or features and benefits – that it was a bit challenging to direct them toward the products they actually needed. Interestingly, in Perry’s experience, despite significant efforts on the part of some lens manufacturers to “brand” their products with consumers, “nine times out of 10, when you ask people what they’re wearing, they haven’t got a clue.” Progressive wearers, she notes, tend to be loyal to a specific brand if they are happy with their lenses, but otherwise there is not a lot of brand loyalty when it comes to spectacles.

“Overall, very few people care that much about the brand name of the lens,” she says. “What matters is that they are happy and comfortable with it. Advertising is a funny thing. People may remember it, but they likely don’t remember all of it, or where they saw it.” To illustrate, she relates that she advertises her shop at two bus stops in Saskatoon, and while these ads are effective at bringing in customers, those who come in after seeing them routinely forget where they saw them. “They’ll say, ‘I saw your ad in Sutherland,’ and I’ll think to myself, ‘No you didn’t, because they’re on Clarence [Avenue].’”

This is not to say that ECPs don’t appreciate the efforts of lens manufacturers to support their businesses and increase consumer demand for the products they sell. Quite the contrary. However, many of them would also like to see corresponding enhancements to branded point-of-purchase materials as well as increased funding for educational programs that help opticians and optometrists better understand lens technology.

“Advertising is great, but lenses sell themselves if opticians take time to explain the technology and build a level of trust with the client,” Higgins clarifies. “To do that, they need to understand what the different products are, how they work and how they can improve vision. And that takes education.”

2015 VEE Show Shines Spotlight on New Products

VEE2015By JoAnne Sommers

Spring is the season of new beginnings. So what better time to roll out exciting new eyewear products than the recent International Vision Expo East (VEE) show in New York? More than 22,000 visitors and exhibitors from 90 countries, including many Canadians, participated in this year’s event. Here is an overview of some of the great products they found.

AdlensFocussTM, the world-leading Variable Power Optics (VPOTM) eyewear from Adlens®, provides four times more viewable area at near, intermediate and distance than the best freeform progressive lens. High acuity and unmatched viewable area for all distances is achieved by turning a dial. The fashion-forward frame design isn’t compromised by its adjustable function as the dial and VPO system are hidden within the frame.

Alternative & Plan “B” Eyewear
Get the perfect mix of style and function with three new models from Alternative Eyewear’s Clip Tech line. Model K3772 features a bold, retro shape combined with cool temple details and a keyhole bridge. Models 3774 and 3775 have a chunky acetate look and feature interesting patterns and eye-catching colour. All are made from high-quality acetate and come with a polarized magnetic clip-on, which is rimless, light and features a back-mounting system.

Ic! Berlin
Ic! Berlin presents plotic – 3D-printed eyewear created by Selective Laser Sintering. Finely tuned lasers fuse together powder particles to create eyewear that’s lighter, stronger, more flexible and more environmentally friendly than traditional materials. Plotic comes in eight rich colours, two plotic-metal hybrids and two plotic sunglasses with an innovative new nosepad solution.

VEE_LensPenLensPen presents PeepsTM, an all-in-one cleaner using a simple two-step process. First, wipe the lens with the retractable goat-hair brush, then slide the arms out from the holder and clean the lens with smooth circular motions of the cleaning tips. When the arms slide back into the holder, the carbon on the cleaning tips is replenished; Peeps’ cleaning tips can be recharged up to 500 times.


Modo Eyewear
New additions to Modo’s Super Thin acetate collection feature marbled hues and patterns and the signature metal-on-metal hinge. Handmade in Japan, the two new men’s shapes are classic squares with a straight, yet casual brow line. The rich acetate colour range brings classic shapes to a new level. Two new cat-eye-inspired women’s shapes are rectangular with a flattering upsweep. Model 6521 is a stylish square shape; 6522 is geometrical and feminine.

J.F. Rey
The “Au masculin” collection cultivates masculinity in a vintage-chic look. The St-Germain celebrates elegant fashion for the trendy guy who loves sharp lines and sophisticated colours. Club is a vintage-style frame made with beautiful Italian leathers. Factory appeals to the urban man looking for quality and style. Titanium clip-on sunglasses with mirror lenses complete this piece of art.

Prisme Optical Group
VEE_PrismeOpticalGroupThe new Frederic Beausoleil sunwear collection features four models, each in four colours. A tribute to the ‘70s, the designs represent glamour and fantasy. Made with exclusive cotton flower acetate plaque, some have silk-printed colours while others have gradient colours. Model S454, with a vintage look, features the iconic six-point Frederic Beausoleil hinge.


Optika Eyewear
The Nat & Coco eyewear collection includes 15 new styles for men and women: ladies’ styles feature textured acetates in animal prints with a mix of rhinestones, which creates an elegant flair; men’s acetates have a bold wood look. All are cut thin, extra lightweight and comfortable to wear.

New ladies’ styles are also available in metal with a three-tone finish, featuring new and original colour blends and patterns. All metal frames are crafted from super-lightweight stainless steel for extra comfort and durability

Spectacle Eyeworks
VEE_SpectacleEyeworksThis new stainless steel collection breaks boundaries with six unisex styles. The multi-layered contrasting colours of each frame combine deep, rich shades with pastel hues. Daring cutouts along the outside of each frame accentuate its angular shape. Modern, clean chic with just the right amount of flavour makes these German-made frames extremely wearable.

VEE_WestgroupeThe 10-piece stainless steel and acetate FyshUK collection was inspired by soft, feminine colours and the intricate use of pattern to create texture. Eye shapes range from sexy cat-eyes to retro, ‘70s-inspired squares.

The Kliik collection includes 10 models in acetate and stainless steel. Features include special laminates, faux wood laser finishes and acid etching.

The eight-piece Evatik collection is modern and masculine. Accent colours bring life to warm neutrals and varied finishes and treatments provide interesting details. Acetate predominates, ranging from ultra-thin profile to retro-heavy.

Zig Eyewear
VEE_ZiggyZig Eyewear introduces 10 new ZIGGY and 10 new Jean-Reno models, and SUNNY’s, a sun collection in acetate and metal.

SUNNY 104 is an ultra-feminine, metal, bi-colour frame. It comes with polarized lenses and can be used with progressives.

ZIGGY 1506 is ultra-delicate and feminine, with a double wire that gives volume to a small frame.

The retro-modern, bi-colour stainless steel RENO 1565 frame can be used with progressive lenses and comes in three colours.

Mido 2015 Sets New Standards for Attendance, Convenience

Mido2015By JoAnne Sommers

‘Milan’ is the top fashion buzzword for 2015, according to the Global Language Monitor. So it’s fitting that Milan is also home to the annual Mido eyewear exhibition, which ranks high among the world’s pre-eminent optical shows.

The 45th annual Mido, which ran from February 28 to March 2, drew record attendance of more than 49,000 visitors, 56 per cent of them — including some 300 Canadians — from outside Italy. The 8.7 per cent increase over 2014’s numbers is “extraordinary, especially considering the economic uncertainty that still affects some countries,” according to show organizers.

Mido President Cirillo Marcolin said the new communication campaign, new logo, pavilions located closer to the subway, and the revamped and more streamlined layout all made for a considerably larger exhibition space and more exhibitors (150 new companies).

Added Vice President Giovanni Vitaloni: “Attendees took advantage of the more visitor friendly layout to visit all the theme areas: Fashion District, Lenses and the FAiR East Pavilion (the exclusive showcase for Asian manufacturers).”

One major highlight was the new LabAcademy theme area within Mido Design Lab, which was reserved for exciting young designers who were first-time Mido participants.

“It’s an incubator of ideas, reserved for a careful selection of emerging creative talents and fresh, original brands that experiment with new outside the box concepts.”

Otticlub, a multi-function area for seminars, conferences, courses and educational meetings, attracted keen audiences, “which is another sign of the dynamic atmosphere pervading the industry,” added Marcolin.

The show also saw the debut of Bestore, an international award for the store that ensured its customers the best shopping experience in terms of creativity, innovation and ambience. The inaugural honours were awarded to the Leidmann store of Munich. The Bestand award for the most attractive and communicative stand, went to Italy’s Blackfin (see designer story on page 22 of this issue).

Mido’s importance has been recognized by Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, which includes the exhibition in its special Made in Italy promotion program. The ministry organized a special event to which international buyers and journalists were invited.

Among them was Richard Stortini, president of Montreal-based Prisme Optical Group, one of four Canadian companies that exhibited at Mido. “We used the opportunity to meet with eyewear manufacturers,” he notes. “Mido is a great place to get together with our suppliers, see new products and make purchases.”

WestGroupe President Michael Suliteanu liked the exhibition’s move to a new pavilion. “Our booth was busy and we made a lot of new contacts compared to previous years.”

Mido is a key show for WestGroupe in terms of building its international distribution network, said Suliteanu. “Our brands continue to grow and we’ve added an international export sales manager based in Italy. That should further strengthen our international growth, particularly in Europe.”

In terms of trends, Beverly Suliteanu, WestGroupe’s vice-president of marketing and product development, noticed the continued strength of the retro or vintage look. “Acetate was still strong, but in a more refined and thinner profile,” she said. “We also saw more metal and a wide array of finishes and colours. Round and P3 were definitely the key shapes in Europe.”

Plans are already under way for next year’s Mido, which will be held from February 27 to 29, 2016, said Marcolin.

Leadership Changes at Transitions Optical

PrintTransitions Optical announced a number of key executive changes following a PPG Industries statement that after nearly 40 years of service, including almost 24 with Transitions Optical, Richard C. Elias, senior vice president, optical and specialty materials, and chief executive officer, Transitions Optical, would be retiring, effective April 1, 2014.

The announcement also came on the heels of Essilor International’s report that it had finalized the acquisition of PPG Industries’ 51 per cent ownership stake in Transitions Optical.

Dave Cole, Transitions Optical president, has accepted the promotion to vice president for PPG’s packaging coatings business following nearly 24 years with Transitions Optical. Cole joined PPG in 1981 and held a variety of sales and marketing roles in the chemicals organization prior to joining the Transitions Optical organization. He participated in the start-up of Transitions Optical in 1990 as manager, sales and business development and later progressed through several positions of increasing responsibility before being named its chief operating officer in 2010. He was appointed president, Transitions Optical in 2011.

Paddy McDermott has been appointed president, Transitions Optical, effective immediately. He will report directly to Bertrand Roy, senior vice president, strategic partnerships, Essilor. McDermott originally joined Transitions Optical in 1993 and has previously held several key positions in the company’s EMEA region and globally. He was responsible for the start up of Transitions Optical’s Ireland facility and subsequently worked as director of operations and customer service for Europe, global supply chain director, and information technology leader globally. Subsequent positions included director, lenscaster sales, EMEA; director, operational excellence and global engineering; and his most recent role as global director, strategic initiatives.

Bertrand Roy, senior vice president, strategic partnerships, Essilor, will lead the Transitions Optical business for the Essilor Group. Roy has been with Essilor International for nearly 27 years and was instrumental in the foundation of the Transitions Optical joint venture. He has served Transitions Optical in many capacities including executive director and board member.

Congratulating Elias on his retirement and Cole on his promotion, Roy shared his appreciation saying, “For me, it has been both a professional and personal honour to work with Rick and Dave for nearly two decades. They are gentlemen of the highest caliber of integrity and professionalism. Their leadership has been integral to creating Transitions Optical’s unique culture and driving its continued strong performance since its inception. Their dedication has positioned Transitions Optical for continued success well into the future.”

A Thorough Revamping for is happy to announce the collaboration with Opal Group France, the Ponts d’Or gold winner in the POS Material category and silver winner in the Children category. This new association allows to offer a wider range and meet the needs of the company’s clients. 

Five new collections are introduced: Pola, Lapö, Owlet, Owlet Plus and Proximo, as well as new Rx lab edging and mounting services for frames, lenses and treatments.’s coolaboration with Opal Group France has allowed them to offer online purchasing exclusive for eyecare professionals who register on the site. Professionals may order per unit or in quantity.