It was hard not to be drawn to the small, upbeat crowd gathered happily around one of Eyes Right Optical’s central display tables at O=Mega19, chatting amiably to the enthusiastic French man who was showing such obvious passion for the eyewear displayed in front of him.
Denis Bellone, head designer of well-known French frame company Morel, had just finished an Eyes Right masterclass, sharing his knowledge and inspiration behind some of the latest designs in Morel’s Koali, Lightec, Oga, Nomad and Marius Morel brand portfolio.
It was an honour to be at O=Mega19 with the Eyes Right team, he said humbly, especially given the long partnership between Eyes Right and Morel – both passionate, family-owned companies dedicated to the independent optometry market, now being led by the younger generation of their families.
Being here was about sharing the passion, he said. “We provide material with technical specifications, but the passion has to be live.” He also valued the opportunity to talk openly with optometrists and opticians in this part of the world, demonstrating and sharing the inspiration behind Morel’s frame designs.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, he said – from the fashion world, the technical world, what we see arounds us. But for Morel, making frames is more than that. It’s also about understanding the end user, the comfort, the weight, and the opticians who sell the frames. Bellone asks, “How can we make their lives easier, so that nose pads and lenses etc. can be fitted and fixed more easily?” Adding, “We like to claim we understand you, that we are at least trying to walk in your shoes. The eyewear maker and the optician – it is one world and we want to step in.”
One of the trends currently driving eyewear design, illustrated well by Koali’s latest collection, are thin metals, said Bellone. Incorporating intriguing shapes, the new Koali range features a ‘double’ frame. These are two-in-one thin metal designs; the first rounder, the second that surrounds the first is bolder, with a more original shape. Calling them the frame version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bellone said Koali’s latest designs are light and beautiful and, given the company’s renowned construction skills, allow him to offer wearers many different looks using the same shapes.
Sales tips from Kenmark
Kenmark Eyewear’s director of international sales, Jay Higdon, had also flown in from the US to support the Eyes Right team and to showcase the latest releases from Kenmark’s Zac Posen, Dana Buchman, Kensie and Vera Wang brands.
Admitting to a touch of jet lag, Higdon agreed with Bellone that thin metals are ‘hot right now’, as are crystal frames, with fashion-forward brands like Zac Posen and Vera Wang taking the lead on new designs in this area. “I noticed it at Silmo last year; nine out of 10 frames were thin, round, very light metal. I believe everyone likes fashion. Thin metals can look really good on lots of people; it depends on the face and what the individual buyer is looking for.
As far as sales advice, Higdon was pragmatic. “I learnt a long time ago, that if you listen to the buyer – listen to that individual across from you – the product will almost sell itself. You’re there to answer questions, to talk about the product, the componentry, the fit, the balance. After that, they either like it or they don’t. It’s just that easy!” He laughed.
His top tip would be well-known to successful practice owners, he said. “You have to know your clientele. You have to know your demographic. Each practice has a main one, whether its kids, an older or a more hip, younger clientele. Then you put in the products that attract them and you talk to them. If you have their following and their loyalty, then they will keep coming back.”