By David Goldberg
It’s been a challenging year for the eyewear industry to say the least.
Its largest customer base, Baby Boomers and seniors were, for the most part, shuttered inside their homes, coping with the new normal of pandemic life.
That prevented many folks from shopping in person for new optical frames and sunglasses, but industry leaders, such as Safilo Group EVP Eric Blacnhette remain optimistic about the future.
“With more and more people getting fully vaccinated, we expect to see many more seniors updating their eyewear soon,” he says.
Blanchette forecasts that rectangular frames will continue to be popular for senior men.
“This shape provides an updated look, but is deeper for this age category to feel comfortable with multi-focal lenses.”
For women 55 and up, he sees deeper frames with an upswept brow – producing a subtle cat eye effect – remaining popular.
When it comes to colours for men, Blanchette says we’ll see a preference for variants of grey, brown, Havana and classic black, with blue just beginning to have its moment.
Meanwhile, the ladies in this age group are reaching for the shiniest frames on display.
“Crystal-encrusted plastic styles as well as gradients/fades are trending for women, with plum, blue, light brown and blush colours predicted as top sellers,” says Blanchette.
The latest offerings from Liz Claiborne hit this trend with subtle crystal accents wrapped around the arms, including on the Liz Claiborne L 459 and L 578/S.
Serengeti is seeing the same demand for frames that shimmer.
René Gerber, senior marketing manager for Bollé Brands, sees tortoise and translucent crystal trending in different hues and patterns.
“The new designs for summer this year, like the Winona offered in crystal hues or the Wakota, in Serengeti’s new eco-friendly nylon would be a great choice for women looking to accentuate their style.”
The frames don’t have to age with the person who wears them.
That’s the mantra for David Duralde, OGI’s chief creative officer.
“I love seeing a chunkier, funkier acetate with a pop of colour or a rich vintage tortoise on a face with a wrinkle or two,” says Duralde. “The frame adds definition, personality and celebrates the wisdom behind that face.”
There’s nothing basic about the Uff Da by OGI. This elegant design for women stands out by virtue of its clean, modern lines, available in bright pops of colour including black/olive green, sand/scarlet as well as tortoise/steel blue.
At Maui Jim Canada, managing director Jeff Sperian has noticed similar trends emerge in just the last five years for men as well.
“We’re seeing a demand for more youthful styles for men picking funkier frames and lens colours, like Cruzem and Shore Break with our Hawaii Lava lens.”
WestGroupe’s vice-president product development and creative director Beverly Sultineau adds that patterns and embellishments have become more important than ever.
“Vivid and bold colourations are starting to match the popularity of barely-there neutrals from past seasons,” she says.
The latest offerings from the FYSH collection include the F-3673, which boasts an elegant woven arms design and are available in black lavender, navy blush, teal rose or burgundy red.
You don’t have to sacrifice elegance for comfort, even though having a pair of easy-fitting frames has never been more important in this era of working from home.
“Seniors typically wear their frames all day and need full coverage at all viewing heights, making larger square and oversized retro shapes ideal for this market,” says Centennial’s director of product development Linda Mulford-Hum.
But you can still stay chic for all those Zoom calls with fashion icon Vera Wang.
Her latest collection from Kenmark Eyewear includes the Vera Wang V573, which comes in blush, grey crystal or mint.
At Luxottica, the company is focusing on luxurious and noble material replicas, such as horn, agate, marble and malachite, to create an elegant aesthetic atmosphere through warm, earthy colour combinations.
“One core concept kept popping up as being fundamental to our Boomer consumers: a focus on beauty; intended as craftsmanship, precision and material elegance,” says Matteo Battiston, head of design at Luxottica.
One pair of sunnies that will exude luxury and confidence is the Coach HC8315 specs, available in brown tortoise acetate frames with brown gradient lenses.
For spectacles, try Vogue 5358. These pillow-shaped frames come in striped red and striped brown.
Meanwhile, Crystal Geoghegan, product/lead buyer at Canadian Optical Supply, sees a continuing upward trend in “classic” shades like black or Havana.
However, transparent and nude shades as well as cool toned purple, blue and grey seem to be the biggest sellers right now.
“Silhouette’s new full-rim collection EOS View offers customers the perfect mix of both trendy and classic colours and shapes,” says Geoghegan. “The collection has the appearance of a bold front, while maintaining Silhouette’s legendary lightness and comfort.”