The whole scenario of Independent Eyewear is near and dear to me. I’m deeply committed to retailers and vendors defined by this particular segment of the optical arena deeply engendered to core values intricately and uniquely woven into the essence of our eyecare world.

This very issue of 20/20 staunchly supports that Independent premise. It guides my personal and professional commitment. And I believe one of the best reflections of that is the factor of my hosting the Independent Eyewear Panel at Vision Expo for over a decade.

Quite honestly, it’s an easy gig since the ongoing list of participants share in their fascination and loyalty to this category. At the most recent NYC Vision Expo, I was thrilled to resume my hosting responsibilities and combine them with a new initiative called the NOW Pavilion created by eyewear designer Nico Roseillier, a dazzling display of eyewear trends sorted and specialized so showgoers can experience the upcoming eyewear and sunwear debuts clearly animated in ways that enhance the all-important storytelling so vital to engaging consumers in the adventure of individualizing their spec choices.

I’d venture to say the panel presentation on the Friday of Expo was an exciting success based on the powerful and fruitful insights delivered by an intimate group representing Independents from both the retail and vendor side to a very receptive audience.

So charged up for the event, I didn’t even realize my excitement shielded a fever that kicked into full gear later that evening. I’m glad to note my resulting bout of sickness tested negative for Covid but it certainly cut my Expo weekend short. That said, I’m more charged up than ever for anything and everything dubbed as Independent Eyewear, and I’m truly convinced the initiative is moving onward to new heights in optical.

This issue highlights some of our favored choices when it comes to Independent Eyewear defining the ever-expanding genre. I’m also thinking about ways to animate this unique eyewear, so it becomes easier for retailers and dispensers when they are crafting stories defining the meaning of Independents. And that rethink will hopefully impact the nature of the Independent Eyewear Panel for future Expos. I would urge everyone to keep an open mind to what it truly means being an Independent in our opti-universe. The rewards of such freedom when it comes to embracing frames with a strong foundation in the tradition of classic eyewear demands commitment and a unique sense of self reliance on all sides. So be ever creative in your declaration of the facets of Independents.

James J. Spina
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