This month’s issue of VCPN focuses on European eyewear (among a number of other topics), and while interviewing the eyecare professionals who specialize in this category, we discovered that the adjectives they use to describe frames from Italy, France and their neighboring countries could also be used to characterize successfully selling frames from designers and manufacturers from anywhere in the world.

Trendsetting, unique, romantic and fashionable were joined by descriptors such as quality, balance and the unexpected when we discussed European eyewear with the ECPs from throughout the United States.

New York optician Frank DePaolo even said that European frame designers “create in-your-face, kick-down-the-door kind of looks.” Now that’s dramatic, and apparently definitive of European designs, but you can judge for yourself when you review pages 22 through 32 of this issue of VCPN for the latest styles from the continent being introduced this month in both the United States at Vision Expo West and in France at Silmo, both being held during the last weekend of September.

However, those descriptions are not limited to frames coming out of Europe. Rather, they are equally appropriate when describing any frame designs from other sources throughout the world, North America, Asia — anywhere that trailblazing design is making a name for itself and an impact on fashion.

Similarly, the qualities that make the ECPs who carry European eyewear succeed are the same as those exhibited by the ECPs who do well stocking eyewear from other sources as well. In addition to taking risks with your frame board selections and making the effort to travel to the source of your desired designs, most important among these ECP traits are knowing the demographic makeup of your clientele and specifically addressing their needs.

“Being close to Seattle brings in people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds with different tastes who are looking for something with a different flair on a regular basis. We need the style to reflect their personality,” optician Kimberly Manthe told us.

By knowing their clientele and addressing their needs, ECPs successfully stock styles not based on choosing Europe over other countries of origin, nor independent vs. corporate, and not even high-end vs. value. Those ECPs who know who they are fitting with frames are those ECPs who repeatedly achieve success.

This becomes clear when focusing in on a single city, such as New York or Chicago or San Francisco, where one will find both neighborhoods where curating high-end luxury frames is appropriate as well as other areas where promoting value eyewear makes more sense.

Understand your patients, determine their needs and actively source your frame board stock in response to these, and whether you offer frames from Europe, the U.S., Canada, China, all of these or none of these and somewhere else, you’ll find that this advice these ECPs have shared comes from years of experience. Whether its classic panto tortoiseshells or edgy acetate in bold bright colors and funky shapes, the goal is to stock the designs that people will wear.

Optometrist Brett Hagen summed it up best when he told us, “Every frame has a face; no matter how far out there you think it is, it’s going to be a fit for somebody.”

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