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Optical shop and trend specialists track what patients want in eyewear, and explain why an inventory of the year’s fashionable styles is a must for competitive advantages.
Take-Home Message: Optical shop and trend specialists track what patients want in eyewear, and explain why an inventory of the year’s fashionable styles is a must for competitive advantages.
By Rose Schneider, Content Specialist, Ophthalmology Times
When it comes to building a contemporary inventory of eyewear in the dispensary, maintaining a fashion-forward optical shop is key to sustaining profit flow, according to Joy Gibb, ABOC.
“Customers are looking for what’s fresh and new,” said Joy Gibb, ABOC, president of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical Service, Woods Cross, UT. “If all you have in your (frame) boards are the same styles and colors that you did when they bought their last pair, they will quickly go somewhere else to buy something different and fun.”
Fortunately, many resources are available for eye-care professionals (ECPs) to keep their dispensary inventory on top of the latest trends, Gibb said.
The Vision Council, she explained, offers several informative websites (Eyecessorize.com and Eyecessorizeblog.com) as part of its campaign to increase awareness of the fashion and lifestyle aspects of eyewear.
Fashion shows-such as the Vision Expo meetings-are also opportunities for all professionals across the eye-care spectrum to see upcoming color schemes, materials, shapes, and styles that will be hitting frame boards in the near future, she noted.
Frame representatives are another excellent resource to utilize, she said.
“They will see color palettes and designs that will start to trend,” Gibb explained. “A good representative will work closely with companies to have that information available to their accounts as soon as they can.”
As for upcoming trends for this spring and summer, Gibb offers this breakdown of styles and colors every eye-care professional should have in the optical dispensary:
“Another hot color for both men and women is Tokyo Tortoise,” Gibb said.
As for technology-infused eyewear, Syl Tang, founder and president of HipGuide, New York, said “wearables” continue to be popular with patients.
“Companies are trying to figure out how to integrate some of the technologies that can be offered by Google or other tech companies into eyewear, but that hasn't been sorted out yet,” she said. “The actual Google Glass as it first existed has been discontinued . . . but my instinct is this isn’t for lack of interest, but an indication of exploration into how that tech could be worked into existing optical offerings. That said, it’s still a work in progress.”
Tang also highlighted several frame styles that she believes are becoming more popular this year.
“From a fashion standpoint, military frames are at an all-time high interest level,” she said. “Brands such as Oliver Peoples (http://oliverpeoples.com/), which outfit shows such as ‘The Blacklist,’ will see their military-inspired styles do well. More importantly, brands with a true military heritage, such as Randolph (http://www.randolphusa.com/), are going to be popular.
“We're also seeing a lot of racing-inspired eyewear, (such as) frames which have a motoring feel are suitable for those situations,” Tang continued. “On the feminine side, Swarovski's sunglass range is extremely en vogue. They have hit just the right balance of retro with modern and it's in line with the color aesthetic for 2015, especially what's coming down the runways.”
Just why are these colors and styles popular this year as opposed to others? The answer, according to Gibb, is as simple as how overall fashion changes with time.
“A good example was during the recent recession,” she said. “We went from frames with lots of bling-type embellishments to very simple and understated embellishments. Even if people had money to spend, they didn’t want to look like it. I think our trends change with the times.”
Knowing what is trending now is only half the battle, however, Gibb said.
Choosing the best vendor to stock an optical shop’s inventory with the hottest fashionable eyewear that patients will want to purchase is also highly important, she said.
“You really have to know your demographics and what will do well in your area,” she said. “There are always various levels and versions of ‘fashion frames’ in everyone’s lines.”
Gibb suggested keeping two important thoughts in mind when vetting the ideal vendor:
Most importantly, Gibb urged, always remember to continue bringing new styles and trends to the optical shop’s frame boards.
“It spruces them up, they don’t look the same every time a customer comes in to your practice, and it keeps an air of enthusiasm and excitement among the dispensers to have the ability to pull new and exciting product for customers,” she said.
With a well-stocked optical dispensary brimming with the latest eyewear trends, perhaps what is most daunting is selling the right frames to difficult, fashion-conscious patients. Joy Gibb, ABOC, offers some practical pearls:
• Ask about patient lifestyle. “I always ask patients a bit about their lifestyle, (such as) their work life and play life,” Gibb said. “I ask what they like or dislike about their current frame style and if they want to try something a bit different from what they are wearing. I always try to have a few fashion-forward, trend-setter-type frames on my board for those who are more fashion-conscious.”
• Think ‘out of the box.’ Gibb notes that her practice is fairly conservative and mainstream, so it is important to have a few “out-of-the-box” frames to pull. “I also have those types of frames for another reason,” she said. “Sometimes you have someone who has been in a very conservative basic frame-color, shape, etc. They want to make a change and more of a fashion statement, but are really looking for a professional opinion and permission to do so. If I can show them an extreme difference from where they are, it makes them more comfortable to at least go somewhere in the middle and a little further away from where they’ve been in style.”
• Find the perfect match. “The other thing to remember is sometimes fashion-forward or trendy frames don’t look as good on the board as they do on a face,” Gibb said. “They can be intimidating with some of the colors and shapes, but if you get that frame on the right person, it can look amazing!”