What is the appeal of unisex eyewear?
For optical retailers the
answer is clear: these versatile optical frames can be sold to the entire
population, rather than just one half of it or the other, and a wide range of
stock can be carried without needing to buy two collections. Women may seek an
androgynous, "non-female" frame because they want to convey a serious,
professional image at work, or because they don't like a girly look, or because
such styles match their wardrobe and activities. For men the distinction between
men's and unisex styles is less obvious, but the latter may offer a broader
choice of colours and designs than those traditionally found on the men's
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
So what makes a frame unisex? Shape, material, colour, detailing
and branding all come into the mix. Brand image and positioning are probably the
most important factors. Some brands are so strongly associated with women that
it would be a brave man indeed who bought a frame under that label, no matter
how "unfeminine" its design. Others, however, have been carefully positioned to
appeal to and be associated with both sexes. POS material comes into play here,
and many manufacturers offer material depicting their frames worn by both men
and women, or material which is designed to be non-gender-specific. Colour is a
vital factor in determining whether a frame is unisex or not. Paler colours and
red tend to be favoured by women while blues or greens tend to attract men. But
colour is a tricky area, where an individual's choice may be affected not only
by their own taste but by what is considered acceptable in their work and
leisure lives. Black, browns, tortoiseshell and metallic colours such as bronze,
gunmetal, silver or gold are universal in their appeal.
Eye shapes and overall design need to be simple and clean, with
eye rims taking a more angular or possibly oval form. "Feminine" shapes such as
bow ties are unsuitable for your unisex range. Angular eye shapes such as
squares and rectangles are currently very popular and suit both men and women.
Slender or rimless frames also appeal to both sexes for their discreet
appearance, and are currently trendy. The simplicity of unisex designs makes
them easy to wear and suitable for a wide spectrum of occasions.
The overall design must, of course, take into account the
different bone structures of men and women. Materials are truly unisex.
Lightness is likely to be the only important criterion related to materials, and
equally important to both men and women. Detailing must be subtle. Decoration on
temples or end pieces should be minimalistic and avoid motifs such as flowers.
Gemstones may or may not be acceptable.
Spotting the new trends in eyewear will require a keen eye next year Subtlety
is a key element and intricate details add charm and originality. By Clodagh
Women's eyewear spring/summer 2003
WHAT'S HOT IN 2003?
MATERIALS: acetate, pure titanium, hi-tech materials, magnesium,
aluminium, all lightweight materials, metal with acetate.
SHAPES: rectangles; soft ovals; large, square Jackie O styles; large or
small eye shapes, unconventional lenses.
COLOURS: metallic; pink- rose, cream-white, barely- there neutrals; black,
matt/shiny, transparency, green.
DETAILS: hi-tech with comfort; engraving, customized/individual touches,
patterned acetate, contrasts in texture/color, layering, grainy details.
INSPIRATIONS: Art Nouveau, sunglass design, the '70s, ethnic style,
No single trend dominates eyewear next year. A number of this year's themes
are developed in fresh contexts: the vintage references, the colorful materials,
the soft, fluid lines. Individuality is achieved via an exciting array of minute
details, exquisite decorations and a taste for the unexpected.
Frames for women are particularly expressive. There are very feminine styles
with unusual but flattering eye shapes - rounded forms, soft ovals, delicate
rectangles and more and more semi-rimless or rimless ideas.
Narrow metal frames are designed to offer high levels of comfort as well as
stylish looks epitomizing the feminine approach. Plastics are bold, but not too
chunky for women: some have layered effects that overlap like soft folds of
fabric. Others play with textural contrasts, putting matt and highly polished,
glossy surfaces side by side.
The temple, whatever materials are employed, is now the primary focus for
decorative touches, however minute. Tiny inlays using colored stones, sparkling
crystals or cloisonné enamelling, or the brand's initials or insignia, appear
around the temple area. However, in a departure from past seasons' styles, they
tend to be subtle rather than drawing attention to themselves.
The tips are also full of surprises: some feature a discreet laser- engraved
logo or lettering, moved to a new spot for a different, less immediate impact.
Moulded shapes and patterning are also being used at the tips of some of the
more extravagant styles.
Colours for women are based around crucial classics such as black, or clear
acetate with grain details, or optical effects which add texture. The bright
pinks and lilacs that caught on in 2002 will remain important - some are teamed
with pared-down tones for a new approach. Coloured
lenses still speak volumes, and the paler varieties are widespread in the most
trendy optical lines. Meanwhile, a palette of new, sophisticated "barely-there"
neutrals are expected to add a very stylish dimension to the high-end optical
lines for women.
Men's eyewear spring/summer
For men, there are some interesting contrasts. Rectangular eye shapes are the
look of choice, whether in rimless, metal or acetate styles. Premium metals are
particularly strong - titanium is at number one, although some of the other
hi-tech materials like magnesium and aluminium are expected to grow. The
combination frames, where plastic and metal are used together, continue to be an
Pure lines and weightlessness have been the main concepts of many of the
men's collections. The temple has again been put to the test: designers offer
new creative solutions for flexibility and propose coolly conceived, invisible
hi-tech hinges. Attention to detail is a major consideration and is evident on
all parts of the frame, not just where it is likely to be on show.
A tendency to stick to more muted colours is seen in these male eyewear
designs, with natural metallic finishes being suggested as one of the stronger
looks for 2003. Where classic colours are proposed, there is often a touch of
something fresh and unusual, a subtle pattern or a slightly textured surface.
Again there are references to fabric. Lenses are increasingly slightly tinted,
and the graduated effects continue through lens and frame, matching impeccably.
For the trendiest male eyewear users, some of the designs are closely related to
sunglass shapes, with fashionable lens colors and strong, enlarged eye shapes.
Those shapes are based on the rimless masks that make such a direct statement.
Expect to see more of this on into next year, as men get a taste for designs
that are lively and enjoyable to wear.
A desire for properties such as lightness and flexibility in everyday eyewear
has led to growth in the number of semi- rimless and rimless lines. Many of
these products are made with springy hi-tech mounts that resist corrosion and
fatigue. Particularly popular are the titanium-based alloys like Flexon and
Titanflex. Colourful and easy to wear, the rimless and semi-rimless designs make
an attractive option for the consumer who wants their eyewear to be modern but
inconspicuous. They have become staple designs for a wide range of age groups
looking for minimal eyewear that's not going to date.
Hinge design - whatever the frame material - has also undergone some changes.
Temples are increasingly flexible, whether screw less or featuring spring
hinges. Many different categories of eyewear and sunwear include this type of
flexible feature: children's lines emphasize this area to ensure that young
wearers are well equipped with durable, virtually unbreakable eyewear.
COOL AND NEW
Hi-tech gadgetry always provokes curiosity, and there are some brilliant
examples coming up in eyewear in 2002. Ideas for folding frames were appearing
last year: the focus is on the convenience of being able to carry the frame in a
pocket or small bag, its size making it inconspicuous. Designer brands,
have come up with sun masks that fold away into a special miniature eyewear
case. Ready-readers are now slim enough to tuck away inside a pen or ultra thin,
A newly patented technology, where a design appears on the outside of a pair
of lenses, obscuring the eyes but allowing the wearer to see out, has become the
ultimate technique for those who love a slick logo. Names and initials are
emblazoned on lenses, giving the frame the kind of "must-have" appeal that
followers of fashion simply can't resist.
In the with the Old:
Traditional frame styles have long been an important reference point frame
for eyewear designers. And the current celebration of all things old means that
styles inspired by past eras are more desirable than ever.
The latest trend to hit the high street, the vintage look, is nothing new to
the world of eyewear. Retro sunglass styles and many traditional optical shapes
remain long-standing favourites among eyewear consumers.
KARAVAN is a French design collection of optical frames made by Prestige Optique
International owned by a French optician Jean LEMPEREUR.
The company designer, produce and distribute his own metal and acetate models
since 1966, with high quality and precision.
Each model credits the knowledge and the creation of Prestige Optique
International. More than 100 models in three colours are presented by KARAVAN
collection. KARAVAN collection is the most powerful product in the commercial
design market with guaranty of advantage for users. Straight lines and colours
give a strong personality to each KARAVAN frame; colorations are made in France
by high quality suppliers and under our control.
A large target is concerned by the KARAVAN style. From Kids, Teen's, men and
women who appreciate a creative touch. More and more consumers want a personal
frame instead mass product; with KARAVAN collection they find different styles.
Frederic Beausoleil describes his latest eyewear collection as offering "A
universe of rich and subtle shades a fusion of colour-play."
The colours in the collection have been obtained "by a subtle mix of natural
pigments and savoir-faire", which says Beausoleil, "enables us to develop our
own exclusive colours." Beausoleil's acetate lines have been divided into three
groups, Current, Avant-Gardiste, and Sensual, featuring complex
patterned colours such as camouflage, marble and humbug. According to Beausoleil
the trend in the metal line Le Metal is for geometric shapes inspired
by Origami. Contemporary and striking, they combine metal fronts and sculpted
temples, which are finely carved. The temples, covered with tinted cellulose
acetate with subtle colour schemes, offer warmth and deep tones.
Lafont at Lafont describes two leading trends in her collections for
spring/summer 2007. "We have focused on a mix of materials, including acetate
and bamboo, acetate with lace stainless steel temples and acetate and leather.
We are introducing new exclusive colour combinations of carbon grey and wasabi
green, black and gold and orange. We have worked a lot on the 'jungle/ethnic'
theme in this new collection, which has inspired new colours, new shapes and
patterns." Lafont says that she is currently using some very special production
techniques, including a "handmade, exclusive 'brush' effect on the front and
temples of Sirocco for men", and "the liquid cutting technique used to make
Surprise, the sunglasses that were awarded a Silmo d'Or in October."
Minute decorative elements on lenses and temples reflect the romantic mood of
the refined adornments and Victorian embroidered designs found on clothes,
accessories and bags. These embellishments include the ever-popular rhinestones
and Swarovski crystals inlaid on arms or temples and, for the ultimate in
decadence, on lenses too.
At Lacoste by L'Amy, the sunglass range focuses on "the return of the
pilot, and oversized forms." Meanwhile, according to Delphine Polycarpe and
Jacky Masseron of Lacoste, the optical collection features a new front made of
one single metal piece in trendy colours with a "double-sided printing effect".
The colours of the Lacoste shirts are currently being used on the temples of the
women's style LC1380.
Eye'DC has worked closely with Intercast and machine-tool manufacturers to
develop new techniques and production methods for their frames in the XIT
collection. This is a range of 27 models offered in a wide spectrum of colours,
and featuring unbreakable NXT fronts. According to the company, "the range is
solid, light and avantgarde in design, using the eyewear industry's most
advanced production methods. All of these frames are either laser-cut or
five-axis CNC machined." Christelb Salomon of Folomi, describes the latest
Laguiole collection as "original and trendy, in particular the Bois~es
line which offers frames made of wood and metal." Salomon says that currently
there is a trend for placing focus on temple shapes, bright colours and material
combinations. The Axebo range,a well-known eyewear brand in France, is
targeting a young audience and offers bright colours and light frame designs.
Salomon says, "Riverse is a good example of this line and represents
French innovation. These new frames give you several frame colours in one."
Metalwork and engraved patterning on arms and temples remain an important
trend. Inlays of colourful semi-precious stones and luxury details, such as
cloisonné lacquering or Art Nouveau-style motifs, turn the frame into a piece of
jewellery and give these designs a unique quality, as if they had been
custom-made. Traditional colour tones such as antique gold or silver are a
Even in the latest selection of accessories it is possible to find some
wonderfully classic flip-top and oral cases with retro details, "old-fashioned"
finishes or traditional fabric coverings. Some of the neat, purse-style eyewear
cases look like miniature evening bags from the 1950s while many of the
luxurious mock-croc designs, leather cases and decorative metal chains nicely
match the current wave of nostalgia for the past.
Designers will pay more and more attention
to materials and finishing, to produce elegant frames, which are in tune with
the latest fashions, color trend and accessories.
Color remains a major theme. The exotic shades of summer will be joined by
more subtle, toned down pastels and pale smoky hues. Flashy gold and silvers
will make a strong showing, appearing together or mixed with bright colors,
traditional neutrals and tortoise effects. Designers will focus on shades of
orange, violet and lilas, inspired by everyday items, from sweets and fizzy
drinks, to hi-tech consumer products such as computers and cars.
Clothes collections and fabric trends inspire original colour concepts in
eyewear while string the pattern for new forms and shapes. Synthetic metallic
fabrics and primitives leathers such as ostrich and python have been snapped up
off the catwalk and incorporated into frame designs. Panther and leopard prints
produce "trompe l'oeil" effects within the structure of the frame.
Plastic layering will give rise to original color combinations, which make
the frames look lighter than they are already. The layers of color will be
extremely distinctive with contrasting colors on the inside and outside. Acetate
colors will include tangerine, deep reds, "aubergine" and black with
marbling effects, black/white contrasts and luscious, lipstick-inspired gloss or
Titanium will be more prevalent than ever, as the lightness of the frame becomes
a major focus. Sleek, modern designs with sophisticated organic shapes will
figure prominently in the optical collections. Flexible, light, unbreakable
metal frames, which are simple but flattering, will continue to do well. Plastic
will be an important medium for exploration and creative color combinations.
Rubber is used increasingly for detailing, lending softness, lightness and
flexibility to optical frames and sunglasses.
Metal/plastic combinations are a standard feature of most collections, as
manufacturers find new design solutions that combine both materials. More than
two types of metal and/or plastic are used in the construction of one frame for
improved comfort and textural contrast. Attention is paid to the feel of the
frame on the face: for example, ultra-thin arms are constructed in warm, tactile
plastic or rubber that grips behind the ear.
Logo design is changing ail the time. Some frames will continue to feature
visible, striking logos while others will favour understatement by reducing the
prominence and size of the brand name and integrating it within the frame. On
occasion the logo completely disappears putting the emphasis on 'in-your-face'
quality, where the statement lies in the frame itself.