Eyecare professionals may discount this category of funky eyewear: saying it’s stupid, you can’t Rx it, takes up too much space for little return, not my market, they don’t like the look or take the look seriously. Yet this novelty-niche-rich market is growing and will continue to make waves in the arena of Fun and Funk.
It is one way to stand out in a sea of Raybans.
Since eyecare professionals have ignored this category, many eyewear stylists have taken the look successfully directly to the consumer.
Crazy and wild eyewear is not a new concept. Eyewear designers such as Pierre Marly (France), Oliver Goldsmith (England), Elsa Schiaparelli (USA), Paulette Guinet (France) Anglo American (England) Pierre Cardin and Courreges (France) were launching catwalk and speciality Kitsch frames since the 1950 and 1960’s.
There are several reason for the growth of this market:
1.) Celebrity Culture: dictates that wearing unique and eye-catching eyewear is the thing. Look how Lady Gaga (Stevie Boi) Kanye West (Shutter Shades), Beyonce, Rihanna, Prince (Coco and Breezy) Elton John and Miley Cyrus have driven the Crazy fashion eyewear market. Wearing Sunglasses in music videos is de-rigueur. I want what they are wearing.. is a common refrain and consumers seek out the Look.
For Example Kanye West Shutter look evolved:
Which launched in 2009 Alain Mikli’s look and
Mykita’s collaboration with designer roman Kremer in 2010.
2.) Unique Eyewear is cool in Selfies. Hey Mom..look what I am wearing! It is not just about selfies.. really not everyone is into RayBan.
Holes Kaleidoscope Glasses went viral
3.) Social Media: in the past one had to have subscription to a magazine to see upstart shades. No longer, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter have made the look go viral. The funny part as millennials are searching for their individuality, they still all buy the same thing. Hence the Raybannettes.
4.) Etsy and and other crafting sites have been adorning sunglasses making DIY project look easy.
5.) Growth of Online Retailers : online icons such as Nasty Gal, I Still Love You NY and Gasoline Glamour, curated sunglass collections have brought the funk to the masses.
6.) Clothing Designers are engaging in this category: Chanel, Givenchy, Yazbukey, KTZ, Jeremy Scott, Moschino, Gucci, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Manish Arora, MiuMiu and Dolce and Gabbana are all making eyewear in this category.
7.) Eyewear Designers are creating capsule collections with this product: ic!berlin, Lucas de Stael, Mykita, Alain Mikli (since the 1980’s), Anna Karin Kaarlson, Fakoshima, Gentle Monster, Parasite Eyewear, Pierre Eyewear. Many of these companies products are sold online as well as through eyecare professionals.
The advantage of this eyewear category is primarily the virality of the product and it is a fashion item, a statement, a luxury item not a medical necessity. Merchandizing can be The biggest advantage to eyecare retailers, the virality of the product, the ability to set oneself apart from the competition and the addition to add spice to the dispensing area.
We have broken this category into:
- Funk and Punk Frames
- Shape Shifters
- Pop Culture
Funk Frames: No longer made for just runways, this fashion category takes eyewear beyond the medical device. It make eyewear a pure fashion accessory, a look, an emotion, it is fun and interesting. Least you think this is a cheap schlick.. This look can cost up to $1500 USD per frame.
10 Years ago, there were a few companies that specialized in Funky Frames. Mercura was most likely the first, established in the 1970’s, followed by Stevie Boi (2007) A-Morir (2008ish), Coco and Breezy (2009) Moo Eyewear (2010) I Still Love You NYC (2010) Material Memorie (2011). These Eyewear Artists went from the celebrity one-offs to the retail sector including eyecare professionals.
Kitsch Frames: Funk Frames are kitsch. Kitsch is fashion known to be ‘in poor taste but appreciated in an ironic or knowing way’. As the saying goes, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Kitsch for us is the use of everyday objects and places in the eyewear. A perfect example is the companies that all came out with ‘Lip’ Sunglasses Crap Eyewear, Linda Farrow for Yazbukey 2015, House of Holland and Kate Spade. Moschino’s take on McDonalds, Nasty Gal with donut and pizza sunglasses. G-Seven-stars, Pierre Eyewear, Vintage Anglo American, Reeve Eyewear (Unicorns)
Shape Shifters In a more ‘mainstream’ arena, this look is growing with Rxable eyewear companies that attend optical trade shows. Eyecare professionals can view Shape Shifters at Optical Trade shows: Mykita, Alain Mikli, Anna Karin Kaarlson, Fakoshima, Gentle Monster, Parasite, Pierre Eyewear, J.F.Rey, Linda Farrow (KTZ, Jeremy Scott, Yazbukey) Add in the clothing designers and there is quite an array of whimsical looks for professionals to add to their inventory mix.
Steampunk Shades– The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987. Today it now includes looks, fiction, art or movies that date back to the 1950’s. The look of steampunk can be anywhere from a Victorian-Nautilus- Harry Potter inspiration to a vintage trial set. Today Steampunk Eyewear is being motivated by DIY crafting with sites such as Etsy and Instructables. It is fairly easy to make a Steampunk Sunglass with found objects.
Since 2013 steampunk styling has taken a mainstream look with designers as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel putting the look on fashion runways. America’s Next Top Model did a Steampunk segment in 2012 and Project Runway did a steampunk chic style.
The use of Steampunk in literature, film, books, art, computer games, comics is growing ergo Steampunk is here to stay. As this sub-genre has grown so is the availability of Futuristic Frames and Steampunk Shades. Sites such as Hi-Tek offer a futuristic steampunk look that is available to eyecare professionals as well as sold online.
Marketing could be very fun.. have a creative Steampunk Eyewear contest and post online, with prizes given out to the most amount of Likes or Shares.
Pop Culture Eyewear: To an extent this category doesn’t belong here.The above is niche at its best, while Pop Culture Eyewear is mass produced. Defined as modern popular culture transmitted via mass media and aimed particularly at younger people. We put it in this category because of the verbiage. Instead of saying Retro, hertiage, you can use signage as Pop Culture. Warby Parker has shown all of us what pop culture eyewear can do to a market.
Marketing and Merchandising: There is nothing wrong with having funky frames artfully displayed in various areas in the showroom; A corner featuring days such as National Hot Dog Day, National Donut Day, National Frog Day are some examples ways you can curate a collection by Holiday.
Set up a celebrity section with pictures of Beyonce or Katy Perry and feature ‘The Look’ in eyeglasses.
Have a DIY section and feature staff or your patients “Lady Gaga Glasses‘ section with eyewear
In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with having fun and playful eyewear and sunglasses in the office. It does not make you any less professional or short-change your skills. What is does is set you apart from the competition and open up new markets and marketing opportunities.