Kids eyewear has never been hotter.
Companies have become increasingly aware of the importance of offering a variety of style choices to young people. From sleek looks inspired by designs for adults to frames depicting favourite cartoon characters and celebrities, this target audience has got the attention of the eyewear industry.
Many people are diagnosed with eye conditions in their youth and this is the perfect time to begin developing brand awareness and loyalty.
Many youth already know what they want having seen it on celebrities or because they want to showcase their favourite television programs and characters.
Parents want eyewear that is durable and will stand up to the rigours of daily kid life such as being dropped on the ground, scratched or frequently misplaced.
The eyewear industry has listened loud and clear to parents and eye care professionals and are offering a greater selection of pieces to meet these demands. So what are eyewear companies doing to help ECPs and youth find the right pair?
“Quality in design and materials is absolutely essential for kids eyewear.
The frames need to keep up with the rough and tumble lifestyle of kids.
REM also pays close attention to comfort. If frames are not comfortable, kids won’t wear them,” says REM Eyewear PR and Communications Manager Lisa Christie.
She notes kids may be drawn to colour frames and fun designs, but parents want to be sure they are buying a product that will last a long time. REM Eyewear has addressed
this with their Lucky Brand and Converse line of kids frames which come with a Kid’s Promise Guarantee.
This program gives parents 100 per cent unconditional protection against loss or breakage for up to one year after purchase.
REM is also providing greater choice and selection for what can be a very discerning clientele.
“We are excited about the introduction of silkscreen laminated acetate designs into our kids collections. This detail allows for a whimsical and playful pattern which
keeps the frames fun and on trend,” she says.
ECPs who are helping kids pick out a new set of frames, should be aware that young people don’t want to look like ‘kids’. Colours, materials and designs this year are reflections of adult glasses with striking shapes and designs.
“When it comes to eyewear, what’s hot for adults is hot for kids,” says Match Canada Marketing Director Kristina Kear. “Updated takes on vintage (rounds, elongated rectangles and modified cat eyes), geek chic (bold geometrics), and iconic (wire rim and horn-rim) silhouettes are all the rage.”
She adds vivid colour blocking, two-tones and translucent blues and greens are still prevalent as are tortoise and floral patterns. Mixed materials, matte metals and polished zyl are favoured for both style and durability.
Crafting the perfect frames that will be both comfortable and appealing is also key. Kids heads are smaller than adults so frames have to fit snuggly with some flexibility for sudden growth spurts.
Parents don’t want to be buying glasses year after year, so these needs are being incorporated into designs across the board.
“It starts with the design, which must be progressive and on trend, yet age appropriate. Combine that with careful craftsmanship and the finest quality components to produce beautiful, durable and comfortable frames, all of which are vital in kids’ eyewear,” said Kear.
Match has developed two brands to meet this need including the Float Kids and Minimize Kids lines. Design and durability have been carefully applied to these designs, as has price.
“Match Eyewear Canada offers a huge selection of styles and colours to satisfy any kid’s personal fashion sense. European influenced design and impeccable construction from premium materials delivers superior quality eyewear at accessible price points,” she said.
Getting Animated
There is nothing kids love more than watching their favourite cartoons on Saturday mornings or playing their favourite video games when they get home from school. Similar to kids who used to carry their favourite characters on their lunch boxes, kids today are now doing this with their eyewear.
Among the most popular characters is Hello Kitty. This Japanese anime character has drawn in both young and old with a cute face a variety of friends.
Kids have bought in to the Hello Kitty phenomenon through clothes, toys, online games and of course, eyewear.
“Kids love to associate themselves with what they wear. Hello Kitty is one of the hottest lines of fashion clothing and accessories for children this year,” said Richard
Allen Vice President of Sales for Optika Eyewear. “Hello Kitty is truly an expressive collection with exciting colours and vibrant shapes. Something that make’s each kid feel unique and special.”
He notes the Hello Kitty brand has been around for more than 30 years. The popularity lies in the vibrant colours and shapes as well as the vintage acetates. He notes
the popularity of the product also means a great deal of care has gone into creating a durable piece of eyewear, something Optika has always strived to provide its clientele of all ages.
“All our products feature high quality stainless steel, which provides light weight comfort and strong durability,” he said. “Besides our strong attention to build quality, all our frames have a two year guarantee, which gives the parents the peace of mind to know that they are covered in case of an accident.”
Fashion Forward
Perhaps no one is more aware of trends than kids. Viva International who are best known for carrying some of the most popular lines with adults such as Guess, Harley
Davidson and Skechers, also offer youth versions of these popular brands including Candies. Available in a variety of styles, this label caters to the variety of trends.
“Shapes trending in the industry right now are deeper, rounded, and soft square shapes that feel a bit ‘geek chic’,” said Aisha Sayed, brand manager for Candies, available through Viva International Group.
Subtle cat-eye shapes and combination flat and wire metals also add flair to the front silhouette.
She adds that bright colours with crystal and milky acetate accents are very popular this year.
Candies has taken this to the next level with multi-layer laminations and pop-colour temple details.
With so many new materials and changing technology on the market, glasses have never been so strong or as able to withstand the rigours of kids wearing them.
“Besides the protective lenses the frame is durable, comfortable and sits firmly on the face even during physical activities. Kids will love the fun colour combinations and cool styles,” said Bushnell Marketing Manager for Eyewear Rene Gerber.
Sun protection is also critical. Children can spend hours outdoors and sun is usually the last thing on their mind. It’s important to have a pair of glasses that offer superior sun protection to prevent long term damage.
More than 50 per cent of young people don’t wear any type of UV protection on their eyes when outdoors. A statistic that is worrisome to experts and has lead eyewear
designers to take greater steps to ensure kids are protected.
“The Cébé 2000 Melanine lenses filter out 100 per cent of harmful UV rays and 98 per cent of blue light which is harmful to the retina,” said Gerber. “Young kids spend
a lot of time outdoors and in the sun so sunglasses are just as important as a hat and sunscreen, especially as eyes continue to develop up until age 14.”
In Style
Most important to young people above anything these days is style. Kids want to make a statement about their personalities, while parents don’t want it to take a huge
bite out of their wallets.
“VDesign has taken children’s eyewear to a whole new level with multi-dimensional frames that kids are excited to wear. They have the “cool” factor and the ability to express the child’s individuality,” said Concept Eyewear Inc., President Pille Kapetanakis. “The collection combines unexpected, unique shapes and extravagant temple details with bright, fun colors such as lime green with black and turquoise, white with bright purple. Those colors especially are being reached for over and over again.”
The line takes inspiration from the adult version which lets kids feel more grown up and sophisticated in their eyewear.
Kapetanakis notes there is an increased demand for ‘non-mainstream’ kids eyewear and Concept has built this into their designs.
“The frames are of very high quality, made by hand. The paint on VDesign frames is extremely durable due to the painting process used—the frames are hand-painted twice and baked twice (versus the industry standard of just once),” she said. “The process is more costly, but results in the nice glossy, very durable finishes. The frames are warrantied for two years against manufacturing defects. VDesign Kids has a wholesale price of $153 to optical retailers.”
Asmaller face has also gone into the overall design of these pieces. Eyecare providers know how hard it is to find a frame that fits a small face. V.Design Kids sizes
range from 45-48 eye size, making them also sought after for small-faced adults too.
“VDesign Kids collection consists mainly of quality stainless steel frames, allowing for a wide range of adjustments to be made. This is crucial especially with smaller kids that still haven’t developed a proper bridge for the glasses to sit on and where adjustable nose pads are a must,” said Kapetanakis. “We feel that by providing kids with fun, high quality eyewear topped off by a fantastic comfortable fit—they are much more likely to wear the glasses and be proud to show off their style.”