By virtue of its chief “virtue” luxury eyewear can be a hard nut (or should that be ‘diamond’?) to crack for eyewear patients, interested consumers, eyewear manufacturers, optical retailers... and the editorial and advertising teams at 20/20. That key virtue is exclusivity and it is a tough topic to come to terms with for every player I noted in the eyewear arena.

Everyone ostensibly wants to comprehend the ever-evolving nature of luxury eyewear but that quest of all interested parties seemingly erodes the whole premise of the product’s exclusivity. For at least a decade 20/20 has danced around a variety of themes and concepts and refined definitions of the luxury category in order to make it a viable retailing concept for our readers without resorting to exclusive extremes that would render it useless as a potential eyewear purchase to anyone other than Bill Gates and his immediate family.

So in these last 10 years 20/20 has bounced around the feature concepts of high-end meeting luxury, luxury dipping down to high-end, extreme high-end, affordable luxury (easily dismissed as the “jumbo shrimp” oxymoron concept for ANY luxury product) and extreme luxury (back so far as when Cartier was really the only bastion at that expense level and you can bet your dazzling, chromed heart that isn’t the case these days).

Well, this luxury cruise of an issue literally has it all because that is really the only way anyone can begin to see the impact this segment of the optical market has had on the WHOLE optical industry.

Ironic that we’re dealing with deluxe eyewear at a time when our nation is literally crunching numbers to salvage a somersaulting economy? Yes... and no. Tough times have an impact on the luxury retailing but tough times also traditionally give enterprising dispensers an opportunity to figure out their place in perching opulent op on patients’ noses.

It’s NOT for everybody. It IS for 20/20 and we will continue to make it a pleasant priority for any player so interested.

James J. Spina