Editors Note


OUR Kinda Eyewear

It didn’t seem like a big deal some eight years ago.

In an issue of 20/20 themed to fashion designer branding, edit decided to hedge our bets with a small photo feature focusing on eyewear devoted to the heritage of… eyewear with no “usage” toll paid to designers and lifestyle branding. At a time when the frenzy to sign new licensed brands was sweeping optical, we felt there was the potential of a steamy niche for independent-minded optical shops focused on mining the resources in glasses specific to optical.

When I first arrived at 20/20, the stand of independent eyewear dispensers was in a bit of a downward trend in terms of numbers. Large optical chains were in ascendance as the single and small chain concerns slipped in numbers and market power. I wasn’t happy about this descending crunch having, in fact, drifted into eyewear intrigued by the position of mom-and-pop stores in a general retailing scenario marked by the mega-growth of big box shops and mega stores infesting so many other areas selling consumer goods.

Anyway, that “small” photo feature continued to grow each year and, as is our tendency, we decided to name it in order to clearly define its presence and do whatever we could in a publishing stand of promoting the cause and applause of eyewear with a definitive eyewear heritage.

We called it OUR Eyewear. And the name was enough to give 20/20 a sense of participation and kinship in this specific market increasingly dear to independent eyewear dispensers. AND it became an annual issue, the one you are reading right now. It has gathered strength and insight, and the time is ripe for it to meet its perfect mate as 20/20 invests a year’s worth of opportunity in regard to the Millennial generation, hungry and appreciative of all things eyewear. We call those Millennials GenEYE, and this issue is total testament to the fact that they understand and inherently adore Our Eyewear and ITS affinity for independent eyewear retailing.

Anyone scanning the eyewear landscape at the recent Vision Expo East can attest to the fact that Our Eyewear is surging with the Galleria and Underground now swelling into the main show floor with a massive sweep that bodes well for all of these optical heritage brands looking to fuel those independent eyewear retailers in search of redefining the optisphere. And the alternative Loft space in New York seconded this passionate emotion with a full stable of Our Eyewear players.

I’m thinking this whole category is going to rise to even greater heights, and that surge is here to stay. At 20/20, we’re dedicated to the rich heritage and future for Our Eyewear. We’re equally jazzed for all of you brave (and smart) independent optical retailers. Add those Millennials and the future is yours… and ours!

James J. Spina


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