A new look by Face-à-Face.

PARIS — Sporty styles tempered with fashion touches dominated the trends at the Silmo eyewear trade show at the Porte de Versailles here.<br><br>Buyers shopping for spring and summer merchandise said strictly technical frames, which were a big...

PARIS — Sporty styles tempered with fashion touches dominated the trends at the Silmo eyewear trade show at the Porte de Versailles here.

This story first appeared in the November 3, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Buyers shopping for spring and summer merchandise said strictly technical frames, which were a big hit last year, were toned down this season for a more stylish look. The show ended its four-day run Oct. 20.

“The sporty and grungy streetwear look has become run-of-the-mill. Now people are looking for sporty, but chic and comfortable [styles] above all,” said Oleg Rabinovich, owner of the Artsee eyewear boutique in New York.

Pascal Jaulent, president of exhibitor Face-à-Face, a French eyewear manufacturer, said, “Sporty designs are still stylish, however the focus is changing from purely technical sports frames toward a more dynamic and energetic look.”

Meanwhile, buyers said business over the last year has been difficult. Most noted that they are not planning to increase their budgets for the upcoming season.

“It’s been a tough spring for everyone in eyewear; however, we are here to place orders,” said Andrea Lenton, director of merchandising for King Optical Group, the Canadian optical chain.

“Things have been difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially for the high-end optical industry, which has more of an economy-proof clientele,” added Artsee’s Rabinovich.

As the global economy struggles to get back on its feet, buyers hoped to spark sales by introducing bright colors and pastels into their spring eyewear assortment.

“There is a lot more color than last year,” said King Optical’s Lenton. “Styles in eyewear and apparel follow a similar pattern. However, eyewear can’t embrace color quite as easily as the apparel industry is doing.”

“There is a mix of bright colors and pastels,” Rabinovich said. “Fuchsia and lime green will be particularly popular.”

Headlining optical trends next season is a shift away from rimless styles.

“Minimal frames are evolving into larger frames,” said Lenton. “It’s a natural process toward color when there has been an absence of it.”

“Frames are getting much bigger and therefore much more visible,” said buyer Rick Allsopp, a director of Trent Nathan Eyewear, a retailer based in Milperra, Australia.

Exhibitors and buyers agreed the new design directions should boost the trend of consumers wardrobing eyewear as opposed to just owning one frame.

“Most of our customers change frames like they change their clothing,” said Patrick Hoet, designer for Theo, an Antwerp, Belgium-based manufacturer.

Organizers cited a record attendance of 40,488, up from 37,716 the previous year.

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