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