May
2003

Upfront

Real
Flex-able
Marchon decided to “face” the popularity of reality- based TV with ads for Flexon Eyewear by teaming up with producer Tony Caronia, best known for scoring awards with campaigns for “ABC News,” “Saturday Night Live” and Arby’s famed “Burger Alert.” Together with Mark Perez (director of NBC’s “Fear Factor” and MTV’s “Road Rules”) the highly charged creatives built a scenario where a Flexon sales rep is looking to meet and impress his perfect retailer-date mate by “flexing”… so to speak. Want to know the outcome? Check it out as the ad airs on many networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, CNN, TNT, Discovery and A&E.  —James J. Spina

It’s
A Live
Lewis Kemper is, perhaps, the most celebrated outdoors photographer in North America. His creative work output is staggering and his client list literally bulges with top-echelon names ranging from Audubon to The Sierra Club to National Geographic. And now you can add Live Eyewear to that mix with the debut of the Cocoons Sunwear “Isolate Your Eyes” catalog. The photos are inspirational. And we noticed that some of the images have been used as environmental backgrounds to the portraits showing actual sportsmen fine-testing their Cocoons. Pictured: a serious fly fisherman doing some delicate handy-lure with his Cat-style sunwear perched just above his glasses. Collect your copy of the Cocoon catalog by calling (800) 834-2563. And satisfy your photo-sightedness by viewing Kemper’s art at www.lewiskemper.com —JJS

Credit-able — Breitfeld & Schliekert Optical Tools has introduced its new customer loyalty and referral program. The referral program is designed to thank customers for their business and reward them for referring new customers. Current customers will receive $5 for every new referral that purchases products from B&S. Customers can accrue the credits up to $100 toward a purchase, or use the credits individually. In addition, new clients will receive a $5 credit off their purchase when a current customer refers them. Referrals must be for new customers only and credit amount may not exceed purchase amount. B&S vp Thomas Pfleging, says, “We wanted to find a way to really thank our customers for their loyalty and continued support, we felt this was a good way to thank them, but also encourage new customers to give us a try.” Interested? Call (888) 429-5779… or tell an opti-friend.

Timber! — Rem gears up a new Timberland promotion running through the end of June. It’s an extensive gift giveaway, offering 10 different pieces of merchandise that customers can get by redeeming points they receive for frames bought. Offerings include Timberland shirts, hats, a watch, backpack and wheeled duffel bag and the premium picks are highlighted by new Timberland sunwear styles. Call of the wild: (800) 423-3023. —JJS


Two faced. 1. Annabella Sciorra, late of “The Sopranos,” shows both her sides: glamour girl in the limited-edition Gold/s sunglass by Valentino from Sàfilo—which she received at the HBO Golden Globe Luxury Lounge Suite—and sporty casual in the Serengeti Via Veneto… Golden idol. Best Actor Academy Award winner 2. Adrien Brody goes for the big and bold when it comes to sunwear. Brody, who won the Oscar for his role in “The Pianist,” wears Gucci style GG1712/s from Sàfilo… On screen. Speaking of the Academy Awards, some of the female nominees donned styles from Marchon at the recent Oscars. 3. Julianne Moore who was nominated for both best actress for “Far from Heaven” and best supporting actress for “The Hours” sports Calvin Klein 298S color 633. Fellow best actress nominee (for “Frida”) 4. Salma Hayek wears cK 3025 style 157. 5. Meryl Streep—nominated for best actress for her role in “Adaptation”—wears Donna Karan style 8808 color 315. Also wearing Donna Karan is 6. Queen Latifah, a first time nominee as supporting actress in “Chicago,” in style 9819S color 315… At the movies. Oscar attendees in Marchon included presenter 7. Uma Thurman in Nike 4051 color 424, 8. Brittany Murphy sporting Fendi style 555 in golden glimmer, 9. Angela Bassett in Fendi Suns style 260 in golden sienna and 10. Taye Diggs who appeared in the best picture winner, “Chicago,” wearing the Nautica Palm Beach color 008… Take off. 11. Brad Pitt was spotted in London’s Heathrow Airport wearing the Burberry 8928S in blue from Sàfilo… Playing the field. In Sàfilo shades are 12. Angie Harmon and her football player hubbie Jason Sehorn. The actress is in Ralph Lauren style RL 884/s and the former New York Giants cornerback wears Burberry style B8375/s… Touchy. 13. Britney Spears sports Ralph Lauren 882S in gold from Sàfilo in a recent issue of In Touch magazine. Stylin’. Look who’s wearing Alain Mikli eyewear; 14. Lorenzo Lamas and 15. Traci BinghamPeace sign. Comedian 16. Janeane Garofalo in a cat eye style from Zip+homme at the Seeds of Peace Celebrity Auction held at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom… Tuning in. A few well-known faces from the small screen are sporting styles from Serengeti: “Will & Grace” star 17. Debra Messing in the Da Vinci, 18. Mathew St. Patrick from HBO’s “Six Feet Under” in Prato and 19. Dule Hill of “The West Wing” in Lucca… Later ‘gater. Movie legend 20. Robert DeNiro in Izod Eyes aviators from ClearVision. —Jackie Micucci

In the SAG
A tisket, a tasket… Sàfilo was in the SAG gift basket. YSL his and hers sunglasses were among the featured items in both the Ninth Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominee and presenter’s gift baskets created by Backstage Creations. Check out all that loot… —JM

The Goods
Losers never walk away empty handed at Hollywood awards presentations. In fact at this year’s Oscars, nominees received $200 mink slippers, a $350 Philips micro stereo system, a $600 Invicta watch and, ugh, $4,000 LASIK eye surgery. But fear not optical. Eyewear was present among the treasures. Each basket contained a Vera Wang gift bag with either the Enigma (above) or Propulsion frame, cleaning cloth and sunwear case. From Couteur Designs, a division of the Kenmark Group, Vera Wang Eyewear was the exclusive eyewear sponsor for the 2003 Academy Awards Nominees Gift Baskets provided by Distinctive Assets. Other goodies that went home with the likes of Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Salma Hayek included round trip tickets from Virgin Airlines, a World Premier Package from Cirque Du Soleil, Digital IO Pen from Logitech and $200 Swarovski Crystal flip flops. Those sunglasses will sure come in handy to keep the sun from blinding stars from their jewel encrusted feet. —JM

Extra Credit
Imagine having customers buy your business card. Seem like audacity at its finest… actually it’s innovation at its finest. Sharon Katzman, owner of IOPTICS in Sarasota, Fla. has sold more than 300 of her “credit card” readers. These plastic cards are a mini set of readers with IOPTICS’ business information printed on one side. Offered in a variety of diopters, the spectacle area has a see-through case to protect the lenses when it’s being toted around in a purse or wallet. The dispenser sells the cards for $10 each.

The idea began as a give-away to loyal customers. But when many came back looking to purchase more for family members and friends, Katzman knew she had hit upon a great idea.

“I have made a really nice profit,” says Katzman. “But there is more to this than meets the eye; the marketing and promotion of IOPTICS. How often can you have a customer purchase your business card, put it in their wallet, take it out on airplanes, at restaurants, etc., use it, brag about it and put it back in their wallet for the next time they need it?” —JM

insight peek
THE 20/20 TAKE: Sometimes it benefits to resort to your proximity to a resort. And as with a resort, service is everything.

Margaret Grand, OD, optician Aimee Koombs and optician/daughter Michelle Grand.

The Grand Stand
Just south of Disney World in metropolitan Orlando is the quiet, suburban reality of Celebration, Fla. A planned community of 20,000 residents, the town’s brightly color manses house many of the Disney executives as well as other Fortune 500 CEOs. And at the center of its immaculate central business district—on the shores of a beautiful man-made lake—resides the optometry practice of Celebration Eyecare.

Owned by the husband and wife optometrist team of Ronald and Margaret Grand, OD, the practice operates as if it were in stiff competition for the community’s eyewear dollar. In fact, it has been the only eyewear game in town since it opened in 1996, after the developers who built Celebration asked the Drs. Grand to open the practice. Its dispensary—run by the couple’s daughter, Michelle—has more than 400 frames on display from Oliver Peoples, l.a. Eyeworks, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Kenneth Cole to name a few. According to optician Aimee Koombs, the shop sells a range of lens choices including Zeiss and Hoya. Patients entering the storefront dispensary are welcomed by a bright, clean, sun-filled store—not to mention an incredibly polite and happy staff.

“This is a wonderful town to practice in,” explains Dr. Margaret Grand. “More than 80 percent of our patients are from Disney and we also work with some of the Atlanta Braves players and staff when they are in town for spring training. And with the town here, we have a very high-end, selective patient base. We feel very fortunate.”

The Drs. Grand know both sides of optical retailing, having owned five LensCrafters in the northeast before moving to Florida in the mid-1990s. Their location now, according to Dr. Margaret Grand, has insulated the business from the ongoing economic recession gripping the nation. That and the couple’s business strategy. For a small practice, they believe in diversity: In addition to the thriving optical, the practice does significant business in contact lenses and color contacts, and has a referral relationship with a laser surgery center in nearby Tampa.

“Our philosophy is to try to offer people everything—to focus on selection and service,” notes Dr. Margaret Grand. “We don’t have any competition in town, but that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. We have a lot of return business and we take pride in that. There are other towns and other optometrists nearby. But we want to keep patients coming back. And you have to work hard to do that everyday, no matter what the level of competition around you is.”  —Brian P. Dunleavy

The Alchemy
of Ferré
Renowned as an architect of fashion, Italian designer Gianfranco Ferré creates clothing and accessories characterized by a youthful, modern spirit, avant-garde technology and attention to comfort and functionality. As a child, he dreamed of being a pharmacist and mixing potions to treat various ills. Then following the wishes of family he studied and received a degree in architecture in 1969 from the Milan Polytech Institute. At the same time he was studying architecture, Ferré was making his debut in the fashion world, designing jewelry and accessories for fellow students. Fashion editors started noticing and featuring his creations in magazines. He also began a series of accessory design and consultation jobs. In 1974, his first ready-to-wear collection launched. In 1978, the Gianfranco Ferré company was founded with a line of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories bearing his name. His business has since expanded into couture, furs, men’s and children’s lines, jeans, fragrances and accessories, including eyewear and sunwear. He has had a licensing agreement for ophthalmic and sunglass lines since 2002 with Allison Eyewear.

In 1989, Ferré was appointed artistic director of the House of Christian Dior, designing haute couture and ready-to-wear collections under the Dior name until 1996. In 2002, the Gianfranco Ferré Company became part of IT Holding. Ferré has won countless awards and has had his designs featured in museums throughout the world.

In an exclusive interview with
, the designer reflects on personal style, the changing fashion world and that all20/20 important accessory—eyewear.

How important do you think eyewear/sunwear is to a designer’s repertoire?
I love to design. I love to give my own creative input to concrete objects such as eyewear. It didn’t take me long to add eyewear to my other lines of accessories, all of which are an integral part of my ready-to-wear collections. Not coincidentally, eyewear is always used in my fashion shows—just as are bags, belts, jewelry and every other type of accessory.

How do you make eyewear more than just another license?
I design my eyewear in complete synch with the clothes. Of all accessories, it has the closest link to facial features, making a key contribution in defining and characterizing the face. Eyewear holds great emotional potential, relating directly to our personality, our being, our individuality. Of all my projects, it has always enjoyed particular attention. More than other accessories, eyewear entails working with pure shapes and requires an intensely innovative use of material.

What is your design philosophy?
My creative intent with all my designs is to combine harmony and beauty with functionality.

What is your personal definition of style?
Style—like elegance—is harmony of dress, body and mind. It’s self-knowledge and self-assuredness. It’s an expression of personality and inner depth. It’s something I cannot conceive of as distinctive from naturalness. To me style refers not so much to what we wear as how we wear it.

How do you keep your designs fresh from season to season?
I’ll answer that from an opposite standpoint: What comes first and
foremost is consistency of style. We use certain leitmotifs that are easily recognizable, albeit in new interpretations. However, that does not prevent us from picking up on new trends and new needs. For a designer, creating something new every season means being “ahead” with mind and heart, and all five senses. We have to be constantly alert to all the stimuli and inspiration around us. From this stimuli, we can then create something uniquely our own. The novelty factor in fashion springs from a changing world, but novelty takes on the connotation of style only when someone gives it a recognizable identity.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
On a personal level, my greatest satisfaction lies in being able to express myself in what I do, transforming my vision of life into a concrete project. It’s also gratifying for me to see that my clothes—beyond expressions of my own taste—can define the taste of the times. It’s extraordinary, for example, knowing that a woman chooses one of my shirts because in wearing it she feels more beautiful or more modern or more comfortable.

What do you want to be known for?
I make every effort to have the Ferré style grounded in quality—whatever form it may take—evening gown or jeans, fur or eyewear. Quality to me encompasses many things: exclusivity, originality, peerless materials, exquisite workmanship. This to me is modern luxury—luxury with substance—luxury that corresponds to the dynamics of modern life.

What major changes do you foresee for the fashion industry?
Ongoing change in fashion is essential. Fashion continues to evolve.
With the various acquisitions and mergers that have taken place in the past few years, the fashion industry has finally caught up with the globalization already in place in other sectors of the world economy. Reflecting on my eight-year “adventure” at Christian Dior and the integration of my brand in IT Holding, I can say being part of a major luxury group does not necessarily jeopardize the creator’s artistic freedom. On the contrary, it lends now indispensable support in terms of resources, investments and means and modes for penetrating/conquering markets. This type of integration not only provides the designer with the opportunity to make a real dent worldwide, it also affords him creative peace so he can develop new projects, new spheres of expression.

If you were not a designer what would you like to be?
Enthralled with the mixing of drugs still done in pharmacies when I was a little boy, I wanted to be a pharmacist. However, my family wanted me to be a doctor or an engineer. I then studied architecture and entered fashion almost by chance. A matter of Fate, evidently…  —Gloria Nicola


Par For the Cause
Ray-Ban was recently a proud sponsor of the “Fairway to Heaven” Golf Tournament in Miami, benefiting the VH-1 Save the Music Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in America’s public schools by restoring music programs in cities across the nation.

Ray-Ban reps custom fitted both the professional golfers and celebrities at the event with the latest Ray-Ban (from Luxottica) shades including former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, Adrian Young from the band No Doubt, Kyle MacLachlan from HBO’s “Sex and the City” and Molly Culver of the syndicated action series “V.I.P.” —JM

From left: Dan Marino, Adrian Young, Kyle MacLachlan. Below: Molly Culver.


Show of Strength
Consider this a postscript to the editor’s letter. A trade show such as EXPO is so much more than just the state of business. And it’s more than the debut of new products, the scrutiny of attendance numbers, the celebration of vendor parties, the quest for knowledge at seminars and lumpy carpeting that adds tripping to the nightmare of swollen feet. It’s about the intent of show attendees. That’s what it’s really about…

Robin Genden, optician, Bayview Optometrics, Mashpee, Mass. (The 20/20 take: We first met Robin at a party at last year’s Vision Expo West. She made a memorable impression by telling me to stop moping around and have some fun, saying a trade show was always a time for celebrating.) “Expo in New York is a blast. The people in this city are so nice and it rubs off on all the show vendors. We did tons of buying… everything from Bulgari to Nike. And where else can you go to a show and then stroll out to a Bulgari jewelry store to get a feeling for what the brand really means?

“My biggest discovery at this show was the Magic Clips from Viva. Because of the slight attendance dip I just walked up to a rep and set up the review and buy in no time.

“And don’t get me started on all the parties. Everyone was better than the one before it. That view of New York from the top of the Marriott at the Signet Armolite party is an Expo impression I’ll never forget.”

Rick Hogan, owner, OptiCal Designs, Santa Monica Calif. (The 20/20 take: All vision care professionals should strive to be visionaries… like Rick.) “I came [to Expo] intent on browsing but buying became a strong priority. I really used this trip to find new niches and collections capable of providing my customers with something new and different. I found it with names like Martin & Martin, Booth and Bruce and Zip+homme. I’m sure we’re headed out of the economic slump but we’re definitly in a holding pattern. I’ve talked to other retail merchants and we all agree that it’s not the work it’s the suspense. But you don’t break out of a slump and find answers to success by staying home and missing a trade show. Think of the position we’d be in if our customers felt that way.” —JJS

Know the Drill
When times get tough, the tough get… timely. Fully understanding that a solid way of weathering the rough economic retail environment is via strategic alliances, Santinelli has collaborated with an elite cast of frame and lens manufacturers creating the “LessStress Drill Mount Boutique.” Rimless and semi-rimless eyewear is hot these days. This May 20/20 is testimony to that. As the distributor of the LessStress drill, Santinelli decided to fuel the excitement of the drill mount category. As demonstrated at Vision Expo East, Santinelli provides demonstrations and drilling techniques on the LessStress in full info participation with partners Minima, Younger Optics, Silhouette, Marchon, Rodenstock and Alain Mikli. Believing that the category of rimless will continue to trend upward, Gerard Santinelli, president and CEO, explains “We are delighted and excited to have these category drivers join us in this creative marketing event. Celebrating our one year anniversary with LessStress, we’ve experienced stronger than expected sales.” Join the drill on drilling by calling (800) 644-EDGE.  —JJS

REMember That
We’re hopeful you’re noticing the increase of dispenser quotes in 20/20 stories of late. It’s important that a trade publication reflect the sentiments of its readers. Rem Eyewear must feel the same. Their new ads make skillful and direct connections with the words of insightful members of opti-nation combined with equally intriguing images.  —JJS

A Perfect Match
Wondering what to tell customers to complement their eyewear with? Why not a watch. OGI Frames has debuted a line of designer wristwatches that coordinates with matching plastic frames.

Inspired after a recent trip to Italy, OGI designer David Spencer was so impressed by Italian optical stores’ ability to offer matching accessories such as handbags, jewelry and watches that he decided to create a collection of wristwatches. “It just seems natural, like matching shoes to a belt,” he says. “Coordinating an everyday accessory like a watch to frames is an appealing and original way to expand a look.”

OGI watches are available in two shapes and sizes, and 10 colors, with watch faces and borders that perfectly complement frame patterns and colors. The watches feature analog movements, genuine leather straps and stainless-steel backs.

Sets of four watches and two frames include a Lucite counter display. OGI watches are priced individually to the dispenser at $29 and matching frames start at $48. More info is available at (888) 560-1060.  —JM

Tip of the Hat
There’s a new sheriff in town. Well, actually, he’s a new man on the scene for Stetson Eyewear. After a lengthy selection process, Zyloware took to the foothills of the Rincon Mountains in Arizona to photograph the new-man/ new-look for their popular men’s brand. He’s wearing Stetson style 208, a three-piece mount, and the first ever for the brand. Executive VP James Shyer says, “We feel we hit the jackpot from a sales perspective, with this new Stetson Man. We have already had such a positive reaction to him from both women and men at Vision Expo. His look suits the masculine, ageless image of the brand and he wears all of the Stetson eyewear styles so well.” —JJS

It’s a Groovy Thing — Essilor is continuing its “Peace, Love and A-R” seminar series. The 1960s-style event uses professional actors to educate ECPs and their staffs about the consumer need for A-R lenses, tips on using A-R in their practices and the advantages of packaging and branding products. Upcoming dates include Atlanta, May 13; Nashville, May 15; Pittsburgh, May 20; Indianapolis, May 22; Detroit, May 29; Kansas City, Mo., June 3; and Houston, June 5. To register, visit www.EssilorRSVP.com.

Fill ’er up — Optima has extended its Resolution Gas Card Rebate program until December 31. The program matches each sale of a pair of Resolution lenses with a coupon; once five coupons are acquired participants redeem them for a $10 gas card through their lab. Interested labs may call their Optima rep or Optima’s customer service department at (800) 621-1216; retailers can request a list of participating labs in their area.

Magnetic Personalities — Manhattan Design Studio is offering dispensaries that make a qualifying purchase of new Pentax Magnetic frames the chance to earn a Pentax DigiBino DB100 lightweight binocular with built-in digital camera when they fit eight high-index AF progressives. Dispensers must order the frames via a Manhattan Design Studio rep or by calling (800) 277-3979; they are also required to become a Pentax AF-certified dispenser and fit and order eight Pentax high-index AF progressives with retina-forward design, via their choice of labs, between April 1 and June 30. Dispensers then mail in Let’s Go Digi vouchers with copies of invoices by August 15. Call (800) 401-9101 for more details.


Peerless At Rimless
Not many labs can claim having the likes of Will Smith, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Britney Spears as customers. But Anaheim, Calif.-based MultiFacets isn’t like many labs.

“They only do rimless and they do it very well,” says Henry Rojas, optician and manager of the Houston location of Optica, a 14-store high-end chain.

Indeed, MultiFacets president and co-founder Allen Vaughn bills his lab as a “a full-service lab” for rimless eyewear. “And we are known for our sculpture detail work, laser engraving and rhinestone work,” he continues. “We are also able to custom fabricate any design requested by our customers.”
Rojas calls this a real plus. “Customers know if they want eyewear with a distinctive look they have to come to us.”
Working only with rimless may seem like a limiting business strategy, but MultiFacets has actually parlayed their expertise in the area into a global customer base that spans the U.S., Canada and South America. Rojas chalks that up to the lab’s “unique expertise.” His shop handles a number of Houston-area “sports celebrities,” including U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Tara Lipinski. “We design eyewear for them with unique lens shapes, etching, engraving,” he says. “You can’t send that work to any lab.”

“Producing rimless eyewear requires technical knowledge and craftsmanship few labs can provide,” adds Vaughn. “We encourage our customers to use their imaginations and control the entire design process for their patients.”
Allen Vaughn bills his lab as a “a full-service lab” for rimless eyewear.
And the result is rarely a simple octagon or oval lens shape. Rojas has, for example, designed eyewear for members of the Houston Texans football team with “a football-shaped logo and their jersey number in rhinestones” on the lenses. These types of lens orders are usually fitted into high-end rimless frames from companies such as Cartier. They can take as much as three to five weeks to process, but Rojas says customers “understand that, given the artistry involved.”

Over the past decade or so, MultiFacets has also offered customers its own branded line of rimless eyewear, made by a Japanese-based manufacturer. The labs collection includes styles for men and women, as well as sculpted styles, sunwear and branded lines called “Etc.,” “Hip Hop” and “Crystal & Lace.” The catalog is available online at:
www.multifacets.com.

As part of its philosophy, MultiFacets offers exclusivity to customers in individual markets so, as the lab owner says, “they have a unique product line to offer their customers.” Rojas calls this a real plus. “Customers know if they want eyewear with a distinctive look they have to come to us,” he says.

According to Vaughn, the lab processes orders using some of the same equipment as “traditional” wholesalers—from manufacturers such as Loh, CNC Opti-Drill, Santinelli, Weco and Denton Vacuum—but what makes it unique is the technical expertise of its processing people, most of whom have been with the lab for more than 15 years.

“We have spent years developing different techniques and procedures to manufacture rimless eyewear,” he explains. “Most of the labs primary business is full frames and uncut lenses, rimless is just a small portion of their business. For us, rimless is our business.”  —BPD

 

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