On the “Imminent Death” of Independent Eyewear

I recently spoke with a colleague in Canada about the future of the industry. He was explaining to me how online refraction will spell the death of the independent optical store; and how consolidation will spell the death of independent brands.

Some years ago I heard Lasik would spell the end of the optical industry in general. Then Warby Parker was going to obliterate the rest of the industry. Then the growth of Luxottica would cause everyone else to wither and die.

As far as I know most everyone is still here.

The equation is simple: as long as there’s demand for somewhat different eyewear made by independent companies, there will be demand for retail doors to sell it. Eyewear’s a $100B industry. There’s plenty of room.

I’ve always felt optical was primarily a service industry and was less susceptible to incursions from online retailers than most categories. Even if the online seller gets the IPD and refraction right, the frame often needs to be adjusted. I’ve never seen numbers, but I’d guess the shipping on returns must really eat away the profit margin.

My feeling is the brick and mortar industry is quite healthy, nonwithstanding online retailers and online refraction; if it wasn’t why would the very intelligent heads of LVMH and Kering Group want to plunge into it?

What do you think? Feel free to comment.

Not sure how many people know I actually design and produce eyewear. It might come as a surprise to some, because it’s been a while since I’ve been active. I had to go on hiatus to help family through some problems. I’m back.

I plan on launching a new line in the Spring. Some optical shapes and some sun. My friend Michelle Violy Harper is pictured below wearing one of the new sun shapes.

Michelle Violy Harper wearing the Fleur du Mal, a style from my upcoming collection. Vogue Nippon was featuring her as a stylish person. She actually brought the sunglasses to the shoot with her.

I’ll still run some older shapes that were popular.

“The Double M”, a favorite style of mine that was among the first I ever produced.

I do a classic line and good shapes are evergreen. The new optical shapes are a bit simpler than the Double M, but capture its vibe. Heck, noted optician Barry Santini, told me he’d wear most of them himself.

The production run will be limited. I’ll be taking pre-orders by private appointment in Las Vegas. I’d be grateful if those of you who might be interested would come take a look.

You can best reach me through my personal page on Facebook.

Thank you.

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3 Responses

  1. Edward Mitchell Jr. LDO says:

    Well I think the people who are saying this are the PR reps trying to put false info out there. I am independent and as long there are glasses being sold the independent will survive. I do not adjust glasses,or take measurements that are bought online, so online adjusters would be needed before independent opticals close. While customers might want the cheaper price and product online, being able to get personal care is more important! The sky is falling the sky is falling, but the independent optical will stand!

  2. peter l. says:

    i live in a small town in canada . georgetown ontario, its not anything to do with the money we spent on our glasses……it is how they treat us, they think we are stupid……….i went to a optician 2 month back, after she check me out i know there is something not right with the result, i request to check again after the 2nd. time…….she refuse because she said she load the same data in, what i need is to have her check my eyes from the start, do not use old data she have……..i did not want to argue with her……..i leave it at that…….then i find out the glasses is not what i ask for,,,,,,,,also my bill have other charges which i have not heard before…….i went back and get the right make and i was credit the over charge amt. back…………some do not know they are in the servicing sectors………people do not mind to pay as long as they get a fair return and care for their eyes…………..its they who are killing the industry ………..not us……………….i will never go back there ever again………….its my eye………………….i wear glasses for 36 years dont i know something about my eyes………

    • Moss Lipow says:

      I remember a retailer I used to sell to. He had health problems, yet refused to hire anybody and failed to show up to his store more often than not. Orders weren’t filled. His Yelp page was a litany of enraged customers venting hostility. He stands out in my mind as a chief reason I demand cash on delivery until a level of trust is established. He still owes me money, though his shop long since closed down.

      Fortunately such optical retailers are relatively few. They get weeded out. Sounds like you had a bad experience. I don’t think it represents retailing, online or brick and mortar, in general. Good luck with your future purchases.

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