Trends 2013: Unique Materials

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It’s not quite as cut-and-dry as plastic or metal anymore. In an effort to differentiate, eyewear designers are increasingly seeking out new, unique materials, many routinely used outside the optical industry, and consumers are responding. Leather, wood, Ultem, horn, carbon fiber, and various polymers, among other things, used alone or in conjunction with more traditional materials, have become a regular part of the eyewear dialogue.


“Unique materials and treatments continue to really drive client curiosity and sales. Using materials like natural buffalo horn and wood have always been great differentiators for Morgenthal Frederics and continue to be as we enhance and enlarge our assortment in these areas. Mykita Mylon is one of the most exciting new collections in quite some time; utilizing amazing technology to create totally new and innovative eyewear is always fantastic. I think clients want to hear more about how eyewear has advanced, and using unique technology like this, or beautiful natural materials like horn and wood, create the kind of offerings that keep them excited about eyewear.”

– Jeff Press, vice president of design and merchandising, Luxury Optical Holdings (LOH)



“Companies are using different materials. One in particular no longer uses plastic, but instead uses pressed cotton. There are more companies using different types of plastics than before to make their frames a little different, a little lighter.”
– Aurora Susi, frame buyer, Metro Optics



“Tumi uses carbon fiber, John Varvatos has genuine leather, Converse features skateboard grip-tape, Lucky has silk screen acetate… and this is just the beginning of unique materials at REM. By bringing in surprising materials, the frames better represent the individual’s lifestyle and personal style and speak to the wearer in a way that is unique and special.”
– Nicolas Roseillier, creative director, REM Eyewear



“Utilizing materials in frames that are traditionally outside of our industry is a growing trend and something Pearle Vision buyers have seen in a variety of the collections. The innovation and technology continues to provide customers with more choice and a product that will enhance the look and performance of the frames.”
– Lori Bowman, director of frame buying at Pearle Vision, Luxottica Retail



“I love exploring new materials but this can be a slippery slope as we can all get seduced by new materials just for the sake of saying they’re new. At Marchon, we ask— ‘how can I achieve the special effect or function I’m looking for? What material could solve that for me?’ A great example of this are styles from Calvin Klein collection. Inspired from the brand’s minimalist construction and clean layering, we wanted to create a ‘frame within a frame’ with both metal and plastic that was seamless, elegant yet lightweight. Through research we discovered a process that allows a metal frame to be completely encased in an outer perfectly crystal casing. This new material is a polyurethane polymer that is poured over the metal frame in a cold state instead of traditional method of heat under injection, creating a very clear and polished effect.”

– Leslie Muller, vice president of design, Marchon