I don’t usually jump ahead to a future 20/20 issue theme, but exceptions can often be the highlight of a message so here goes… Our special double summer issue will have a centerpiece devoted to an initiative stated three years ago in the frightening roar of Covid as we created “The Partnership Issue” devoted to joint ventures and combined forces called into play for the challenge of survival. The value of that ode to unity has strengthened many facets of what we try to accomplish in this precious opti-sphere. Even as the health crisis has subsided the value of working together not only remains strong… it grows.

And a substantial part of that sustained unity is reflected in this issue as we delve deep into the unique eyewear arena of Independents reflected via both eyewear vendors and retailers dedicated to inspiration via eyewear built on eyewear-for-eyewear’s sake.

We love this “stuff” that falls under the banner of Independent Eyewear. And although 20/20 didn’t invent this genre, the realm of Independents is what initiated the birth of this magazine nearly 50 years ago. Back in those days, the growing impact of eyewear companies making great inroads into the eyecare scenario, bolstered by the empowered dispensing aura of dedicated independent eyewear shops gave shape to an atmosphere of interdependence… collaboration… generating the need and usefulness of a publication dedicated to the clarion of independent eyewear venturers focused on the success of a growing network of eyeglass retailers. And although that highly individualized schematic of retail seemed to subside just 20 years ago, the realm of individuality has come rolling back despite the challenges of online retailing, chain activity and the demise of mom-and-pop shops in other arenas.

And that same sense of not only surviving but thriving also holds true for numerous eyewear vendors built on their independent identity despite the success of fashion and lifestyle branded products.

Within this steady bravado of independents, there exists numerous and brilliant collaborations fueling growth and unity. Eyewear designers team up beyond their company confines. (This is literally a mandate with the players of the CFDA Eyewear Division.) Vendors join retailers in creating small capsule collections. Enviable sales and in-store package deals shape healthy profits for the retailer, vendor and consumer.

The layers of innovative success via collaboration continue to emerge. And this growth of enthusiasm and a vision of what it takes to get people in great eyewear is what we celebrate here in this issue focused on Independent Eyewear. Collaborate with us as we do with all of them. It is truly an eyewear art, and you have a chance to be the eyewear artist.

James J. Spina
[email protected]