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At Silmo Show, 3-D Glasses of Every Stripe

Polarized designer 3-D specs that also function as regular shades are set to be the next big thing for the eyewear industry.

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PARIS — With 3-D technology set to infiltrate multiple areas of everyday life, from iPhones to packaging, polarized designer 3-D specs that also function as regular shades are set to be the next big thing for the eyewear industry.

That’s the prediction of Marchon executives, who at Vision Expo West this week in Las Vegas, will unveil polarized 3-D sunglass lines by Nike, ck Calvin Klein Eyewear, Nautica Eyewear and M3D Collection.

Attending the recent edition of the Silmo eyewear salon here, Claudio Gottardi, president and chief executive of Marchon International, said the large quantities of passive-system 3-D technology-embedded TVs, laptops and games currently being shipped to stores for the holiday season could translate into a major volume increase for the industry.

Getting into position, the firm in July created Marchon3D, in a joint venture with 3-D technology provider RealD Inc., the firm that developed the official 3-D specs used for “Avatar” screenings. Marchon3D, which is said to be working with a number of major theaters and TV production houses, has six circular polarized 3-D lens technology patents pending.

Likening the impact 3-D designer glasses could have on the iPod phenomenon, David Johnson, president of Marchon3D, said 3-D is steadily becoming more of a household term. The next two to three years will see three to four major movie releases each month, he predicted, compared with around one a month currently, depending on the time of the year.

Marchon3D plans to distribute non-designer 3-D specs in theaters, likely from the first quarter of next year.

Launches at Silmo by Marchon included Lacoste’s new men’s and women’s eyewear line and Nike’s new Nike Vintage eyewear line, which already has a viral campaign underway.

The eyewear sector sure could do with a boost, according to certain retailers attending Silmo, notably from Europe, who reported sluggish business and volatile consumer spending patterns. However, many cited an uptick in sales. Carole Menard, a buyer for Canadian distributor Prisme Optical, said her budget was up by 20 percent. “The market is pretty steady at this point,” she said.

Menard bemoaned a lack of novelty at the event, with a continuation of cat eye and acetate styles. Vintage is still a big story, including geeky-chic thick plastic frames. “Key trends were round, rectangular and oversize, and color is back,” said Sandrine da Costa, director of Paris eyewear store Les Plus Belles Lunettes du Monde.

Fabien Hames, owner of Krys, an optician in Roubaix, France, said brands with good brand image and price/quality positioning, such as Zadig & Voltaire, are doing well, while Garry Marshall, an optician from Bayfield & Bartlam Opticians in Leeds, England, said demand was for more expensive, quality products. “Customers see it as an investment, so we’ve chosen to go down that route rather than the buy-one-get-one-free thing,” he said, lauding All Green’s collection.

Several manufacturers confirmed strong demand for authentic luxury eyewear. Cutler and Gross, for instance, which feted its Maison Martin Margiela eyewear license during the event, said like-for-like sales were up by more than 50 percent for the year ending July 31. The house plans to open flagships in New York and Toronto early next year. “We will offer 1,000 styles in four to five color ways as well as a bespoke service, no other store has such a vast offer,” said Majid Mohammadi, the firm’s ceo.

Logo, which manufactures eyewear lines for the likes of Tag Heuer, Range Rover and Fred, cited a double-digit increase in sales this year, with strong growth in the U.S. The firm presented its first eyewear line for sporting goods company Salomon, including its bubble mask style with a pliable frame.

Cartier presented two new precious Art Deco-style sculpted panther prescription styles, inspired by an archive Thirties drawing by illustrator George Barbier. The brand’s big launch was an aspirational line for the prescription segment, however, dubbed Première, marking Cartier’s foray into acetate frames. Due to enter stores in November, prices start at 330 euros, or $445 at current exchange.

Among innovations creating buzz at Silmo, Mykita, whose latest designer hook-ups include Alexandre Herchcovitch and Rad Hourani, presented a new patented lightweight technical material made from polyamide powder, dubbed Mylon. Made using a laser technique inspired by rapid prototyping, the process does away with the need for molds or tooling. Designers who showcased Mylon eyewear at the event included Romain Kremer and Bernhard Willhelm, who presented sausage-inspired styles.

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