Just as the fashion industry is innovating and growing, the eyewear industry is doing the same. In 2016, the global eyewear industry was valued at $121 billion and forecasted to reach $136 billion by 2021. The rise of trendy frames, sunglasses and cosmetic contact lenses have catapulted eyewear to greater heights.
Now, the eyewear industry is no longer considered just a vision correcting business anymore. Style has taken precedence over functionality as consumers are becoming more style conscious. Thus, eyewear brands have churned out more stylish frames and sunglasses over the recent years than ever before. With that being said, eyewear brands are providing more convenient services and implementing new innovative practices into their products. Such as e-commerce and direct-to-consumer eyewear brands that are popular among Millennial and Gen Z consumers due to their flexibility in customising products to suit individual needs, as well as a focus in premium handcrafted qualities.
Because fashion and beauty trends are often influenced by the luxury market, looking at how the market performs can often suggest how mass market consumers would compare. For the purpose of this article, we will compare the best-selling eyewear frame trends from Farfetch, Singapore representing the Asian market and Matchesfashion, United Kingdom representing Europe from both men and women category.
Lightweight Metal Frames
Though it’s considered a retro design, the lightweight metal frames are a timeless and classic design that many have been and are still fond of. The design made a major comeback last year due to the influence of South Korea’s fashion and entertainment industry.
From Left Downwards: French & Mercury Merry Peanuts IV Glasses, Gucci Square Frame Glasses, Matsuda Classic Round Glasses
From Right Downwards: Masunaga Round Frame Glasses, Dita Eyewear Square Frame Glasses, Cartier C De Cartier Glasses
From Left Downwards: Gucci Round Metal Glasses, Valentino Oval Cat-Eye Metal Glasses, Stella Mccartney Round-frame Metal Glasses
From Right Downwards: Chloé Square-Frame Metal Glasses, Prism Santiago Metal Aviator Glasses, Linda Farrow Square-Frame Metal Glasses
From the bestsellers above, we can infer that consumers preferred the lightweight metal frames in a rounded frame design. Silver and pastel coloured frames were more popular in Asia while the silver and rose gold were highly demanded in Europe. The designs from Asia were also more minimalistic with most designs being round or square framed. In Europe however, three out of six best-selling items shown above were slightly oversized designs.
Cat Eye Frames
Inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, the silhouette exudes a flattering feminine style. Cat eye frames are seemingly popular this year and eyewear brands are becoming more creative with this design by producing them in more varieties of colours and shapes.
From Left Downwards: Prada Cat Eye-Frame Glasses, Kyme Brigitte Cat Eye Glasses, Dsquared² Cat Eye Glasses
From Right Downwards: Face À Face Cat-Eye Glasses, Thom Browne Cat Eye Shaped Frames, Retrosuperfuture Half Cat Eye Frame Glasses
From Left Downwards: Garrett Leight Olive 51 Cat-Eye Glasses, Valentino Oval Cat-Eye Metal Glasses, Saint Laurent Lily Cat-Eye Frame Acetate Glasses
From Right Downwards: Gucci Embellished Cat-Eye Acetate Glasses, Kaleos Lnnot Cat-Eye Acetate Glasses, Gucci Embellished Cat-Eye Acetate Glasses
Based on data from Omnilytics, the showcased designs above illustrate blue and black as the most popular colours in Asia, all of which are cool toned colours while those in Europe displayed a variety of warm toned colours. Leaning towards a more oval-shaped frame, the cat eye designs from Europe are also more accentuated compared to designs from Asia. The latter region’s designs seemed more conservative than Europe in terms of colours and silhouettes. Besides that, half-frame cat eye designs are relatively popular in Asia while designs from Europe displayed a mix of minimalistic and trendy designs.
Though we observed millennial pink garments faltering this year, pink eyewear however, is on the rise. Pale pink and peach shades offer a sweet, cool and trendy appeal that consumers can easily incorporate into their everyday style without being over-the-top.
From Left Downwards: Chloé Framed Eye Glasses, Prada Cat Eye Glasses, Oliver Peoples Penney Glasses
From Right Downwards: Linda farrow Round Frame Glasses, Swarovski Round Frame Glasses, Mykita Round-Frame Glasses
From Left Downwards: Retrosuperfuture Numero 19 Crystal Acetate Glasses, Garrett Leight Vista 53 Cat-Eye Frame Glasses, Miu Miu Cat-Eye Acetate Glasses
From Right Downwards: Gucci Oval-Frame Glasses, Retrosuperfuture Numero 36 Round-Frame Glasses, Gucci Rounded Square-Frame Acetate Glasses
The data on pink frames illustrates a predominant demand in clear acetate pale and blush pink frames. Pink frames in Asia were mostly round while pink frames in Europe were either oversized or cat eye framed. The pale pink colour is considered to be a good transeasonal colour from winter to spring. Pink in Asia varied in different tones and shades while colours in Europe were predominantly pale and nude. The best-selling product among all the products above was the Gucci Rounded Square-Frame Acetate Glasses, which was sold out four times and replenished three times. The immense popularity of this product gives eyewear brands an idea of how well-received this trend is.
The graphs above compares the sellout rates of the three categories from Asia and Europe. Overall, we observed that lightweight metal frames were the most popular category in Asia with the highest SKU count and sellout rates. In Europe however, pink frames had the lowest SKU count with the highest sellout rate. Therefore, eyewear brands in Europe or with plans to expand to Europe may consider stocking up on their pink frame assortments.
Now that we have analysed the top three trends across Asia and Europe, we can gauge the difference in consumer preferences across two continents. In Asia, consumers preferred minimalistic, round shaped and cool toned frames while in Europe, consumers’ preferences were a good mix of oversized trendy and minimalistic frames with more interest towards warm toned colours. The most popular eyewear brands from Asia and Europe were Gucci and Prada, thus other eyewear brands can consider drawing inspiration from both brands. Eyewear brands can optimise the data above to start strategising the next eyewear collection that appeals to their consumer needs and preferences.
How Data Can Help
As the industry continues to grow, eyewear brands that are looking to profit from this growth should plan assortments wisely and strategically. Relying solely on intuition and word-of-mouth forecast trends is simply not enough and could be detrimental if consumer preferences prove otherwise. Fashion trends are volatile as they are, taking in account personal preferences across different regions and cultures and make it even more difficult for merchandisers and business owners to determine what consumers like. Thus, eyewear brands that incorporate data into their business practices are more likely to succeed.
*Do note that findings from this article may not be an accurate representation of the entire Asian and Europe market as data was only taken from Singapore and the United Kingdom.
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The data above was obtained from Omnilytics, real-time market data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated every day. The time period of the information taken was between 1st March 2018 to 30th June 2018.