Whether the glasses are maximally oversize, take the form of a bold shape or even don chains of crystals dangling from the frames, Sánchez styles them with her colorful clothes with ease, and she is not afraid to walk around the neighborhood and pick up groceries — the locals are polite enough to not stare at her as many do in Europe, she observed.
“Here they don’t really care. You can wear whatever you want. But when I go to events with these kinds of glasses, people always want to try them. I think the glasses are my same signature. Everyone knows me because of them,” she said.
Her obsession with eyewear started as a cure for her headache many years ago. Collecting fun eyewear pieces later became a hobby, and now she owns hundreds of pairs, mostly from vintage shops, designers brands like Kuboraum, Bless, Fakbyfak x Walter Van Beirendonck, Factory 900 and Pakawa, and a few cheap and cheerful ones from Taobao, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer online marketplace.
“I buy everywhere around the world. For example, I have many pieces from a really amazing store in New Year that is called Fabulous Fanny’s. It’s a paradise for me. For China, I love Percy Lau. I think I am the only client that has almost the whole collection for her,” she said.
Sánchez thinks that there is hardly anyone in China who can offer the same level of excitement and creativity in eyewear design as Lau does. Founded in Hong Kong in 2013, Lau was the youngest winner of the International Talent Support YKK Award in 2013. Lau described her brand as “beyond the future” at the time.
The other Chinese brands that she also likes are Honggang Lu, who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2015, and The Owner, founded by Edison Huang. Lu made eyewear pieces that can be worn as jewelry, while The Owner unveiled a futuristic design in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Design in 2020, which comes with a one-piece lens design and a fluid oversized titanium frame that stretches across the forehead with triangle patterns Hadid commonly used in her works.
“It’s actually very difficult to find special shapes in China. You can easily find copies from big brands in wholesale markets in Guangzhou and Shanghai. But I cannot buy anything fake,” Sánchez said.
Sánchez began her career in trend forecasting over a decade ago with Zara. She later consulted for the entire Inditex Group on the identification of trends and material selections.
She moved to China in 2014 and landed a job at the Guangzhou-based fashion label Exception de Mixmind, the preferred label for China’s first lady Peng Liyuan. There, she worked on the trend forecasting and image production of its in-house label Ymoynot. She later joined the footwear manufacturing and sourcing company Novi Footwear as a freelance trend forecaster, while working for a number of other clients on sustainable sourcing in the Chinese market for global brands.
“They just called me and said, ‘We need a trend forecast. You want to come to China?’ and I said ‘Yes,'” Sánchez recalled.
“Most of my clients now are foreign accessory and clothing brands, and it really helps that I am based in China. All these brands like to have a pair of European eyes on the ground. It’s easier for them to explain to me what they want. As COVID-19 hits, no one can come to China. Before they come to China to check what’s new and get inspiration,” she added.
From her professional point of view, the majority of Chinese shoppers still prefer simple and conservative shapes when it comes to eyewear.
“They are not that crazy in glasses as they are with clothes, bags and shoes. I feel they see glasses as something practical. They would use bags or jewelry to express their fashion taste, but not eyewear. Like for Percy Lau, her bestseller is her simplest design. They prefer light and metallic ones over crazy glasses,” she said.
“Maybe because I have many crazy glasses. So it’s difficult to surprise me with glasses unless it’s during fashion week. Everyone is dressing up for the occasion. There is also this trendy area around Anfu Road in Shanghai. All the photographers are always there. Some people will dress up and go there to pass by and the for the photographers to take pictures of them,” she added.