By Denis Langlois
Mary-Lynn Standen looks to tick off three boxes when looking for new glasses.
“I like something affordable, comfortable, but also flattering,” says the Bruce Peninsula woman, who will soon turn 65.
Like most Baby Boomers – people born between 1945 and 1964 – Standen is a busy person.
She works full-time, volunteers in the community, but also enjoys spending time at her trailer on Manitoulin Island. She wants eyewear that works for all of those activities.
“I also like to have a knowledgeable optician at the optometrist’s office to give an unbiased opinion when I’m picking out new frames,” she says.
Standen’s desire for functional yet on-trend eyewear is typical of her generation, eyewear companies say.
WestGroupe says Baby Boomers want glasses that are stylish, comfortable and of good quality.
“Although wearing ‘latest trend’ is not a driving force in their decision-making, reflecting one’s personal style is extremely important as consumers of all ages continue to look at eyewear as a key fashion accessory,” says Beverly Suliteanu, vice-president of product development at WestGroupe.
“Contemporary, ‘wearable’ design resonates with the Boomer segment much more so than short-term, high-fashion looks.”
As most Baby Boomers are full-time eyeglass wearers, comfort and fit are also extremely important.
“Materials such as stainless steel, titanium and HD acetate are increasing in popularity as consumers search for lightweight, quality materials that are comfortable from morning until night,” says Suliteanu.
“Boomer women tend to gravitate towards pattern and colour more so than younger demographics,” says Suliteanu. “Detailing, whether it is a laser-cut design at the brow and temple or an interesting laser-printed pattern, is appreciated by this segment as they look for interesting eyewear that reflects their style.”
Flattering, uplifting rim shapes are also popular.
“For men, special hinges and technical aspects that improve the quality of the frame are key selling features for this group,” she says.
Blue tones, from ink to teal to turquoise have all been popular colours within WestGroupe’s Fysh UK collection, as have burgundies, pinks and purples.
“Over the last year, we have seen a strong demand for vivid, rich colours coupled with metallic shades of gold, rose gold, silver and pewter,” says Suliteanu. “For the baby boomer man, neutrals like brown, grey, black and navy are the most popular but we have seen increased demand for subtle pops of colour detailing. Olive and khaki are also trending in men’s eyewear.”
Ogi Eyewear, meanwhile, says they’ve noticed Baby Boomers are making some bold choices when it comes to their eyewear.
“With an increase in the use of metals, the bold choices for unique colours are becoming more available and even prominent,” says Ogi Eyewear designer, Chelsey Wright. “Vibrancy is the definite go-to. Reds, purples and navy palettes draw anyone who’s still looking for a little edge in their look.”
Stylish eyewear is important to Baby Boomers, as both an accessory and for function.
Safilo offers a wide variety of frames that appeal to boomers.
“When looking for new eyewear, they want what they see in the magazines, on social media, and, more importantly, they don’t want to look old,” says Robin Brush, Safilo North America’s key accounts manager and a former optician.
“Women don’t want ‘old lady frames.’”
“Unlike their parents before them, Baby Boomers are retiring with more disposable income. They want multiple pairs; one pair of eyeglasses doesn’t cut it anymore,” says Brush. “They are looking for an everyday pair, a fun pair, sunglasses, computer glasses and glasses for specific outdoor activities they enjoy, like golf.”
Baby Boomers want the comfort of polarized sunglasses for driving and frame designs with brand names their friends will recognize.
“They associate name brands with quality and they feel that at this stage in the game they deserve it,” says Brush.
Safilo notes that male Baby Boomers are branching out into darker colours, bolder shapes and generally wanting a younger vibe. Popular eyewear colours among Baby Boomers include tortoise, black, red, dark purple, dark green and navy blue.
Available in Canada by Centennial Optical, Serengeti has many sunglass styles that feature a classic, retro styling, which is popular with older Canadians.
“Many seniors will relate to the styles like the Valentina with its cat-eye shape from the ‘80s that was made popular by Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly or the classic aviator that just never seems to go out of style,” says René Gerber, marketing manager.
“These nostalgic styles from another era have been updated with the latest RX lens and frame technology, so they’re lighter on your face and the optics is crystal clear.”
She says Serengeti’s prescription sunglass lenses offer the same lens technologies as in the plano.
“So, for example, if you always wore the Serengeti plano but now have to wear RX, you can still get the technology that makes Serengeti a great lens like the photochromic technology and Spectral Control,” Berger says.
Eye care professionals that have the cloud-based technology by Specsy can design lightweight, durable and custom frames for all of their clients, including Baby Boomers.
Toronto-based Specsy uses a 3D printer to create one-of-a-kind glasses that perfectly fit any style and shape.
“Our frames are so customizable that they can be designed to accommodate other medical devices that a senior patient might be using, such as a hearing aid,” says Specsy’s Monica Sokolowski.
The Canadian design house Spectacle Eyeworks recently added new styles to its Pussy Galore collection, which was originally inspired and adapted from the authentic cat-eye styles of the 1950s and ‘60s – the decades when many of today’s Baby Boomers were born.
“My goal was to give the cat-eye motif a more universal flattering appeal while continuing to maintain the authentic essence, nostalgia and femininity of this style,” says Mehran Baghaie, operations director and chief designer at Spectacle Eyeworks.
The new styles, which include the Isabella, sparkle with vibrant and brilliantly glossy new colour combinations while continuing to stay true to its vintage vixen roots.