Can't Miss Trends for 2013

Consumers Are Demanding Frames That Speak to Their Individuality

By Deirdre Carroll: Senior Editor

View a pdf of Can't Miss Trends for 2013

NEW YORK—After a bit of a stylistic lull due to economy-related sameness, finally it seems like there is a bit of buzz and excitement building in the frames segment again.

As Bruce Kolkmann, owner/president of 21 Raymond Opticians in Westchester, N.Y. and surrounding counties, put it, “For a while we were stuck where styling and fashion got boring. Lately, I see as the economy is changing, companies are investing in new things and getting new products out there. The key is to be as well versed in what those upcoming fads and demands might be; to be on the crest of the wave as opposed to waiting to catch it.”

Vision Monday felt it was time to explore the major trends for the year ahead so we could help our readers “be on the crest” as it were. And though we could have certainly just told you what the “can’t miss” frame trends are for 2013, we decided to reach out to some people on the front lines—frame buyers, retail executives and store owners—as well as a few creative directors, product folk and designers, to get their feedback on trends for the coming year and what customers are asking for and responding to, in their own words.

Together we’ve identified a few trends already on the rise; like an increased focus on specialty sizes (larger heads, petites, alternative fits, multicultural influences), the increasing use of unique materials in frame construction (Ultem, carbon fiber, wood, horn, various polymers, etc.) and the continuing strength of the retro/geek chic aesthetic, among others. Additionally, we’ve supplemented these strong trends with some good bets to round out your frame boards like color, temple embellishment and philanthropic or “social purpose”-driven brand propositions à la TOMS, 141 Eyewear and Modo’s Eco collection.

Across them all, one of the most noteworthy and overarching sentiments retailers and suppliers alike kept coming back to was the idea of “individualism.”

“With globalism, e-commerce and social media, consumers are increasingly more savvy and educated as to what is available,” said Leslie Muller, vice president of design for Marchon. “The result is no one wants to look everyone else. Consumers are looking for the thrill of ‘the find.’ They want something unique and different.”

“Design is becoming more human-centered and responsive to an individual’s drive to be more self-expressed and original,” according to David Duralde, chief creative officer for the Kenmark Group. “This is why we are seeing designs that speak to specific fit and color demands, or designs that address social responsibility head on.”

And, according to Cindy Keil, director of purchasing and office planning for 24 Eye Care Associates, with locations in the greater Raleigh-Durham-area, the dynamic of individualism provides a perfect opportunity for retailers to shine. “Most of our customers come in saying that they want something ‘different.’ However, most of them aren’t sure of what that would be, so we get to do what we do best—choose styles to update their look for them.”

—With contributions from Catherine Wolinski and Marge Axelrad