BY DENIS LANGLOIS
When it comes to fashion, it’s easy to make a bold statement.
Luxury eyewear is a relatively affordable way to do it.
The right pair of designer frames or shades can send out a message that you are trendy and appreciate the finer things in life or evoke a sense of wealth or prestige.
“People use luxury brands as a personal style expression. Brands tell others that you have exquisite taste and appreciate best quality,” says Linda Mulford-Hum, director of product development at Toronto-based Centennial Optical.
“A trusted name can give the consumer the confidence and look they’re going for.”
And, while luxury frames are usually a more affordable way to own a designer piece than, for example, a handbag or runway-worthy gown, they are also a more justifiable splurge, she says.
“Two things people notice the most when you change: your hair style and your glasses,” she says.
Luxury eyewear is “something you wear every day, has a practical function and is an on-your-face fashion statement.”
Centennial Optical, a Canadian producer and distributor of frames, lenses and sunglasses, has several high-fashion brands in its portfolio, such as Jones New York, Vera Wang, Nicole Miller and Hackett London.
Centennial’s Christian Lacroix collection features luxury frames created with “unique-to-brand Mazzuchelli handmade plastics.”
“You won’t find these plastics in any other collection and I feel that is what sets luxury frames apart for the consumer – unique-to-brand styling details, exclusive materials and tasteful logo treatments are all part of the package,” she says.
Marchon Eyewear also has an extensive portfolio of brands that includes many top designer names, including Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Sean John, Valentino and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Pierre Bessez, general manager of Marchon Canada, says consumer demand for luxury goods “is at an all-time high.”
Luxury sunglasses, he says, “are a great entry point into the designer lifestyle.”
Bessez says luxury brands represent the current trends that appeal to the global market.
“Established designer’s iconic brand elements and seasonal concepts appeal to consumers who value design and craftsmanship,” he says.
Marchon recently launched ETRO, a brand it says has been historically synonymous with Italian-made elegance.
The spring/summer ETRO collection includes both sunglasses and ophthalmic frames made with fine materials. The pieces each feature unique paisley detailing.
Marcolin USA Eyewear Corp. CEO Fabrizio Gamberini says luxury frames “exude fashion.”
“Luxury items carry a certain mysterious flavor with them and elevate the total look into something extremely appealing,” he says.
Gamberini says Marcolin is “very careful and detail-oriented about retaining the DNA of the brand” in each of the styles the company designs.
“The luxury component is translated through prestigious materials, unique colourations and specialized lenses, so the consumer is getting a ‘piece’ of the brand in a wearable and fashionable item,” he says.
Marcolin Eyewear produces and distributes eyewear from such luxury brands as Tom Ford, Guess, Diesel and Kenneth Cole.
For fall/winter 2016-17, the company has added new styles to both its Roberto Cavalli and Balenciaga collections.
New Roberto Cavalli models include the RC1010 sunglasses for women, which boast large boxy metal silhouettes with fronts in leopard, tiger or blue leopard patterns. Model RC5010 frames feature unique snake-theme temples.
New Balenciaga models include the BA0049 sunglasses, which feature angular geometric fronts, and the BA0068 shades, which are inspired by vintage styles.
Safilo Group recently added new shades to its Marc Jacobs collection, a brand positioned in the high-end luxury market.
The new sunglasses boast innovative designs and bold colours.
They include the Marc 33/s, playful cat-eye-shaped sunnies for women, which are available in bold colour combinations. The Marc 54/s style possesses the chic ’70s spirit with its round, rimless shape, gradient lenses and elongated temples in acetate.
Luxottica, a leader in luxury eyewear with brands like Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Prada and Tiffany, has added three new sun styles and two optical frames to its Versace collection.
The new Greca Stars models each adorned with precious Swarovski crystals.
They include style VE2171B, a metal double-bridge pilot frame, which features 296 of the crystals on the front and temples. The style comes in a wide range of colours.
The optical frames include VE1239B, which has a half-rim cat-eye front in metal that is decorated with 70 Swarovski crystals.