When planning for Vision Expo, I carefully schedule my time by determining which new vendors I am interested in seeing. But I also set aside time to catch up with both friends and my current vendor partners. And while I remain curious and on the lookout for the next great trend, I also realize that new companies may have limited opportunities to capture my attention and make their case to buy their stuff.
With this in mind, I was still surprised by the greeting I received as I passed by the TC Charton Eyewear booth. The owner quickly exclaimed at me: “Hi! I’m Alexandra Peng Charton, designer of Asian fit eyewear. How many Asians do you fit in your practice?” My response was equally quick and precise: “Just about ZERO.”
With her contagious charm, she continued: “That’s because you probably don’t have the proper eyewear to fit them!” She then picked up one of her signature TC Charton acetate sunwear styles and placed it on her face. “Wow!” I exclaimed. I had never seen a large fashion frame fit the unique facial requirements of an Asian that well before. She took out two more styles and donned them in rapid succession, each one an even better fit than the first. I was hooked and drawn in to find out more by the sheer vibrancy of her personality.
Being a technical optician at heart, I often begin by evaluating a new frame’s acetate and hinge quality. It was quickly obvious that TC Charton frames used first-class materials and were well made. Yet another surprise awaited me: Despite having extended clear nosepads, many of her frames comfortably fit my non-Asian face. Now, I thought to myself, there just may be an opportunity here to bring in a new line offering great quality, color and design AND have something clearly positioned for the Asian-fit families that are current clients. What I didn’t expect to discover was that Asian-fit priorities are actually superior fitting for many non-Asian people, including men and women with large or wide heads, small bridges or for anyone that wears their frames somewhat down their nose.
In addition to proper bridge design, TC Charton frames are exquisitely balanced, which is essential in an Asian fitting dynamic where the frame’s main mass is literally cantilevered off the nose. I admit I never really thought about the challenge of Asian fit frame design, which makes me feel less of a master optician than I would like to admit.
Intrigued, I questioned Charton about where her passion for Asian-fit frames came from:
“I found myself and my girlfriends encountered feelings of embarrassment when we wore conventional frames. Like many, we take pride in our appearance, yet thought ‘What’s wrong with us? Our glasses do not fit our nose, cheeks or temples. Do we need plastic surgery?’ I feel eyeglasses and sunglasses are amongst the most intimate pieces of all apparel, so why should Asians feel such emotional stress about the fit and appearance of their eyewear? It’s boring to only choose from primarily metal styles with pads or have to accept that the best fit will only be ‘good enough.’ Does your dentist say ‘Do your braces fit good enough?’ The challenge of Asian fit is one I’ve personally embraced with relish!
“Eyewear should fit well, feel well, look well and perform well. Then and only then, will eyewear become a true pleasure. Because there are actually four distinct types of Asian fit, there is only so much you can do to make non-Asian fit eyewear fit an Asian face. This is why I feel universal fit and global fit are bull****! You’ll save time and money if you have the right styles to offer your clients. And opticians already know this. Early on for example, I went into a good size optometry practice with a tray of just five frames. The manager exclaimed: ‘I’ll take them! Where have you been?’”
“Eyecare professionals need more education on fitting. If they’re lucky, they get the basics. But most miss even that, and then they’re kicked out into the wild blue yonder.” On this point, I’d have to wholeheartedly agree with Charton. As an optician who prizes his ability to fit above all other skills, I think ECPs are sorely lacking in mastering both the essentials and the nuance of frame fit.
Finally, Charton asks: “Do you care? Do you care about new opportunities to better serve your patients? Are you willing to invest in your future? We’re not just a sales company. Work with us. Tell me what you need or what we’re missing. You’ve got a direct line to the head designer. Use it!”
I’m sold. TC Charton Asian Fit eyewear: It’s not just for Asians. It’s for you. ■