If you’re an optical professional, you will likely be visiting New York City at the end of this month for a large gathering of eyewear-related festivities, where you’ll be seeing thousands of eyewear. You’ll be shopping, whether it’s keeping your eye out for new collections that strike your fancy or seeing brands you have known for years. Ultimately you’re seeking eyewear that will resonate with your customers while making important purchasing decisions for your retail dispensary.
Like you, the editors of 20/20 will also be shopping during this time but in a different sense. We’re not buying eyewear but we’re also looking for new frame products to deliver an overview on what’s trending in style, design, materials and technology. While we look forward to seeing the trusty brands we have come to know and love, we are always on the lookout for new brands that push the envelope with eyewear design. In recent years, our eyes have been opened to a whole new world of eyewear, a large portion of which can be attributed to the surge in independent brands, those not affiliated with a designer or lifestyle license, but are built on a strictly eyewear heritage. Some of these are respected designers and brands but a good many appeared prominently on the scene as more optical retailers embraced the independent movement. And this movement has undoubtedly risen with the work and support of LOFT Eyewear Shows, a group dedicated to showcasing independent eyewear brands at its premier shows held annually in NYC and Las Vegas.
LOFT NYC will take place this spring from March 30 to April 2 at the Hudson Mercantile event space. Due to an overwhelming demand from brands looking to join the showcase, for the first time this year’s show will expand to include a second floor. According to LOFT founder Richard Mewha, “We were very interested in expanding the event only if we could attract designers that are using different methods and implementing new ideas and technology into their collections. We want our event to highlight the points of difference in our eyewear design to that of the mainstream.”
The LOFT space offers plenty of natural light and is catered with a cafe serving refreshments, a refreshing change of scenery during a busy few days. Of course, we’re not discounting those who are a part of the larger gathering that we ourselves continue to be a valuable part of but it makes us appreciate even more all avenues of eyewear branding. The diversity of optical is what makes this industry special. This is at the heart of what we do at 20/20—we want you to experience this diversity for yourselves. As you prepare to take that big shopping trip, in addition to your patronage at your old favorite spots, consider making the LOFT NYC a worthwhile destination on your shopping list.
• Christine Yeh