LAS VEGAS — Are plastics back? Is gold the new silver?
These and other questions were addressed at the recent edition of Vision Expo West, the giant eyewear show here that returned after it was canceled last year because of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Traffic was steady, though most veterans said it was slower than the 2000 edition because of the Jewish holidays and the 9/11 anniversary. The show, which ended its three-day run at the Sands Expo & Convention Center Sept. 14, featured about 500 exhibitors.
While several mammoth booths loomed over convention goers, many companies scaled back their displays this year.
"Usually, our booth is five times this size," said Jean Scott, Luxottica’s vice president of product development, gesturing to the still-towering space. "But we didn’t feel that now was the time to spend money on being flamboyant."
Scott called it a time of "cautious optimism" in the marketplace, where companies must convince increasingly educated consumers that they’re getting bang for their buck.
With that in mind, key trends registering with buyers included plastic frames, high-tech and sport-influenced lenses in shades of honey, brown, red and green, and the continuation of shields, wraps, and gradient and flash-mirror lenses.
Among Luxottica’s upper-end licenses, key themes were rounded edges and subtle shields. At Chanel, topaz and gold flash lenses replaced silver tones, while larger, Eighties-style shapes dominated with somewhat subtler logos than in seasons past. At Ferragamo, crystal embellishments continued, this time on metal frames sporting subtle carved logos on the temples and nose bridges. Armani offerings included flat metal frames in rounded rectangular shapes.
At Safilo Group, a runway show featured fall looks from Valentino, YSL, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Max Mara, Christian Dior, Gucci and Burberry. Vice president of sales Mark Ugenti said: "Rimless is still a huge part of our business, but plastics are starting to come back. Larger frames, à la Jackie O for the 21st century, look expensive and glamorous. Colors are more muted and the brown, clear-mirror lens incorporates two of last season’s best-selling trends."
Ugenti also noted that while logos remained important for luxury brands, companies are getting more creative with their placement. The market may already seem saturated with every designer brand imaginable, but Ugenti believes there’s still room to grow."We’ll still see a lot of consumers trading up in their eyewear, as the average market price point is still $40 compared to our $80," he said.
At Marchon’s sprawling lounge-boutique booth, cocktail waitresses served drinks while buyers checked out the latest styles from Donna Karan, DKNY, Calvin Klein, CK Calvin Klein, Nautica and Fendi. Mark Ginsberg, newly appointed president of brand development, noted that Calvin Klein’s ultralight and thin, stainless-steel frames provided a counterpoint to Fendi’s flashy purple rimless lenses and gold frames. At Nautica, wood and high-tech flexible temples made news, while Donna Karan’s line also married comfort and technology with ultralight titanium shields.
Meanwhile, several attendees took side trips to The Four Seasons at the other end of the Strip, where about eight high-end companies, including Vera Wang, Alain Mikli and Kyoto Eyewear, decided to show.
In the Oliver Peoples suite, designer and founder Larry Leight showed off light, clear plastic frames with subtle colorations and polarized glass lenses. One floor down at the L.A. Eyeworks suite, where the windows and mirrors were adorned with colorful words and phrases, the news was also color, in unlikely lens-frame combinations like green and yellow, and orange and turquoise.
Meanwhile back at the Sands, multiline Italian company Allison Eyewear saw plenty of interest in its colored wrap styles from Extè and Romeo Gigli in shades of red and burgundy.
"We’re still building our sun business," said Diana Downs, national sales manager. "But there’s always opportunity to show buyers something new."
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye