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Sunglasses & Eyewear Forecast

May 1, 2008
by Christopher Heine

Sunglasses season is heating up as the weather turns warmer. People need to protect their eyes, and they will want to look good doing it. Men will likely opt for cool looking aviator styles, and women will purchase the big frames they seem to have consistently loved in recent years, among other variations. In addition, luckily for the health of both the public and the sunglasses industry, awareness of the importance of sun glare protection is growing.

For instance, the nonprofit organization, Prevent Blindness America, advises anyone working or playing outside to use eyewear that absorbs ultraviolet rays, and to wear a brimmed hat or cap. But the organization says that hats or caps can only do so much, while eyewear that absorbs UV rays offers the most protection.

Furthermore, sunglasses are not just for adults anymore. More and more Americans are now protecting the eyesight of their children with sunglasses. "A lot of parents are discovering through educational articles that our eyes get burned," said Pamela Arraiz, President, JazO Shades, Carson City, NV. "After all, that is often why we as adults wear sunglasses. Well, people are starting to look at their infant children, toddlers and youngsters and realizing that they should be wearing sunglasses, too. Children who get their eyes burned are more susceptible to cataracts."

Emerging Market For Kids
This is a growing segment of the sunglasses marketplace. Arraiz and her firm sell safety release sunglasses that automatically allow a child to break away in case the strap gets notched up in an entanglement. In other words, the child's sunglasses strap will not get caught onto anything long enough to cause physical endangerment.

But the products are also meant to communicate the idea of fun. For example, they come in 10 colors, including blue, red, pink, purple, orange, green, yellow, black, white and a red-white-and-blue combo to represent the American flag. They also come in two sizes: "Infant" (0-3 years old) with a strap 13 inches in circumference, and "Child" (4-8 years old) with a strap that is 21 inches in circumference. They are available at www.jazoshades.com.

"It is really becoming more important for kids to wear sunglasses because they will not always be wearing hats or have their heads covered," Arraiz explained. "We have fair pricing for people who want to test them in their stores, too. Wholesale cost is $4.99 per unit. The minimum order is 25 pair. The average cost to start off, including shipping, is $135 to begin selling these products. Our customers tell us the deal cannot be beaten."

It is also worth noting that children's eyes have larger pupils and less pigmented tissues, therefore they are more exposed to strong sunlight and are at a greater risk of damage. If you have a small boutique with regular customers who have children in mind, a thirty second explanation of the product's benefits should equal a quick, easy sell. "These are great gift items for aunts, uncles, grandparents, baby shower events, etc.," Arraiz said. "These also make a lot of sense for people who sell to tourists and cruises."

Everything Retailers Need
As Arraiz clearly illustrated, the marketplace for sunglasses and eyewear items is expanding in terms of the user demographic it serves. But the children's market is only the beginning to the diversity existing in this product niche.

"Casual or sporty, elegant or fashion, men's or women's, plastic or metal, everything tends to sell really well," said Oscar Saenz, Key Accounts Manager, TH Sunglass Corp. "The aviator glasses will be hot again this summer for men. I think they are top sellers because it does not matter if you are fat or skinny, you will look good in them. They vary in cost from $15 to $28 per dozen, depending on the style, model, material and accents."

TH Sunglass offers the aviator sunglasses and much more within its 18 categories at www.thsunglass.com. Saenz said that his company prides itself on staying motivated and inspired every day by listening to its customers. The reason why that point is important lies in the idea that the firm stays atop what works versus what doesn't. Because of the growing information available about protective sunglasses, he said consumers expect more quality than ever. "We do not use Grade B lenses; we only use Grade A," Saenz said. "We do not carry anything that is not of the best quality. And our sunglasses are meant to provide comfort to the user."

The company also sells accessories at www.thsunglass.com. For instance, it specializes in microfiber bags, which protect the glasses and average around $14 per wholesale unit. The company's hard case accessories, in general, fly off the warehouse shelves. "The hard cases are consistent sellers," Saenz said. "We do very well with them, as well as do our customers. That is a trend we expect to continue."

Top Styles, Great Prices
The trends in the sunglasses and eyewear marketplace do not necessarily shift as wildly as they do in the designer jeans or tennis shoes niches. Of course, all of the top eretail and retail players keep a close eye on what is developing in the sector.

"I still see a lot of rhinestones doing well," said Jean Hill, Office Manager, 99 Enterprises, Inc., Baldwin Park, CA. "We are also seeing the 'one piece' items getting hotter. This has been going on for the last two years. It was really hot last year, and it's still going really strong." She continued, "Sometimes, products just keep a consistent level of marketability. For instance, we have items that have been strong sellers for 13 or 14 years. Sometimes, it is because of the price point. And other times, it is because of the style."

Hill's firm features the following main categories at www.99enterprise.com: Adult, Ladies, Kid's, Clip-Ons, Metal Frames, Plastic Frames, Slimline, Accessories, Goggles, Party/Fun and Polarized. The wholesale price points range anywhere from $5.40 per dozen up to $24 per dozen. "Polarized sunglasses are becoming stronger and stronger sales products because they block the glare," Hill added. "Consumers are becoming more in tune with the need for eye safety. The Polarize sunglasses work well for pilots, fishermen and people who often have to deal with sun glare."

For 12 years, 99 Enterprises has been exhibiting at various trade shows nationwide. The firm, which has a minimum order of $100 plus shipping, also offers reading glasses. "Because of the Baby Boomer generation getting older, a lot of them have a need for reading glasses," Hill said. "They are looking for stylish and inexpensive frames. The highest price we have for reading glasses is $18 a dozen. In terms of our customer service, we generally try to get orders out the same day. If they come in by noon, we get them out the same day."

Great Accessories
While Hill and her company are intelligently capitalizing on products that they know will sell, other wholesalers are leaning a bit more toward the innovative side. Take Neckz, which offers a strap accessory item that neatly attaches to any pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses.

The concept behind the product is that it will keep eyewear afloat that ends up in a river, lake, swimming pool, mud puddle or bathtub. According to Toni Kistler, Co-Owner, Neckz, her firm is the, "Original patented latex eyewear company." She runs the firm with her husband, West Kistler, while operating out of Kimberling City, MO.

"We have been supplying latex eyewear retainers for over 20 years now," she said. "They are made in the USA and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are low price point and a high-impulse buy. They are guaranteed to float anything." Additionally, the Kistlers' products cost 95 cents apiece and normally retail for $2 to $3 per unit. Usually, they sell the products in packages of 144 units ($136.80 wholesale) at www.neckz.com.

In 2007, they came out with several new product lines. The biggest one, however, was their Floatz line. It came in two different styles: Woodiez, which is a wood float, and Camoz, which is made from a softer material. Both the Woodiez and Camoz can be used in a variety of ways that is not limited to sunglasses. "Each of these examples can hold afloat everything from car keys to sunglasses," she said. "And we have the most experienced customer service team waiting to help you."

Sunglasses Collection & Trends
Lastly, Kachina LLC has released the details of its 2008 sunglasses collection. According to a rep with the firm, 2007's large frames for women are still going strong in 2008, with beautiful detailing and logos on the temples.

Red and white frames are going to be hot as well, the Kachina rep said, as are the smaller plastic frames for women. Men are also starting to wear white plastic frames in 2008, but the classic metal frames are also likely going to be a trend.

The company's sunglasses have UV400 protection and are available via www.kachinallc.com. Kachina's customers include major department stores and catalog firms, as well as a variety of retailers.

For more information, contact:

JazO Shades
2184 Darla Way
Carson City, NV 89701
Toll Free: 866-453-8585
Tel.: 775-884-2041
Fax: 775-884-1875
Website: www.jazoshades.com

T H Sunglass Corporation
Tel.: 800-784-8666
Fax: 909-596-7866
Website: www.thsunglass.com

99 Enterprises, Inc.
400 Cloverleaf Drive
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Tel.: 626-336-1288
Fax: 626-336-1050
Website: www.99enterprise.com

Neckz
P.O. Box 998
Kimberling City, MO 65686
Tel.: 866-779-7801
Local: 417-779-7800
Fax: 417-779-1652
Website: www.neckz.com

Kachina, LLC
1640 East Edinger Avenue # L
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Tel.: 714-550-0209
Fax: 714-550-0210
Website: www.kachinallc.com

Topic: Product Trends

Related Articles: sunglasses 

Article ID: 631

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