Dear Ms. Specs in the City,

I have just been appointed frame buyer in my office. This is new to me, and I want to put my best foot forward. Any tips?

Nervous in Nevada

Dear Nervous in Nevada,
Thank you for your excellent question! Many believe that frame buying entails knowing fashion trends and being fashion forward. The reality is that it is so much more! I have had experience in frame buying, and one thing I learned immediately: It has nothing to do with what I like… it has everything to do with metrics.

Focus on frame fashions, price points, face and frame shapes, colors, materials, as well as the key component Rx considerations. Let’s address frame fashions for now, and we can continue with other criteria in future columns. Ms. Specs is a big fan of the Fashion Pyramid, a useful tool that illustrates how fashion trends disseminate throughout our society.

Innovators: 2 Percent
Innovators are forward-thinking, risk-taking, fashion-forward people. They embrace a new fashion trend immediately. This is a small percentage of overall consumers. The moment they see a fashion on another, they dump it, going forward to the next top fashion. What is trending for Innovators? Luxury materials (buffalo, gold), acetate cateyes, metals combined with wood and carbon fiber graphite. New plastics with large flat fronts and fabulous cutout shapes for the lenses… a blast from the past when we dabbled in Lucite with eyewire openings. Hello, 1980s… how I have missed you!

Early Adopters: 13 Percent
Early Adopters are those who pull fashion trends through. Like the Innovators, they embrace a new fashion immediately. However, when they see the trend on others—in the media, on the streets, they hang on to the fashion a little bit longer, pleased that they were among the first to adopt the new fashion trend. What’s trending for Early Adopters? I group Innovators with Early Adopters to represent the top 15 percent of the fashion pyramid. For Early Adopters, also include iconic 1940s fashions and dramatic styles with embellishments. And what I am super excited about… fashion gradient tints!

The Majority: 69 Percent
The Majority will not embrace a fashion trend until they have seen it all around them: in media, on the streets and in their circles. The lesson: Even when we are modeling the top percent of fashion-forward eyewear, we must remember that 69 percent of our inventory must reflect the majority. What’s trending for the Majority? Heavy acetates, interesting rimless, P3-shaped tortoise and more. For the younger generation: double bar aviators and tortoise acetates.

The Laggards: 16 Percent

Laggards are not remotely interested in fashion. They believe that fashion is for dummies. Ms. Specs suggests that you do not talk about fashion; instead, talk about stainless steel, titanium, spring hinges! All the additional benefits of their prescription eyewear. What’s trending for the Laggards? They are not about fashion, so stick with stainless steel and spring hinges. This is an opportunity to sell your slow movers.

When it comes to color, Ms. Specs suggests that you visit Pantone has the last word on color trends for seasons. Also, insert price points in the pyramid: In other words, have high fashion/lower costs combined with lower fashion/higher price points in the mix. Some want several high fashion pairs that are affordable, and some want luxury materials in a more conservative shape.

Finally, combining impeccable optical manners with a fabulous collection of eyewear is a win-win for your practice and patients/optical rock stars!

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM