It’s a new day for the industry’s leading sunglass manufacturers. How this group is venturing beyond its UV-protective beginnings and reaching new horizons becomes clear when reading the articles in this issue of VCPN.

From ophthalmic lines being introduced by Maui Jim (on the cover and in the One-to-One) and Costa (see the interview with CEO Holly Rush and the Panorama starting) to a retail profile about eyecare professionals who are achieving success marketing three categories of Wiley X products (story here), companies recognized for their quality sunwear are now parlaying that reputation into new product categories. Even Luxottica, in its latest quarterly report, announced Ray-Ban’s launch of branded Rx lenses “soon.”

These sunwear manufacturers are entering a level of vertical integration that has historically been uncommon.

In an industry of strange bedfellows, where competitors partner with competitors and partners compete with partners, where the majority of companies either concentrate on frames or lenses or combine both in the lab, these sunwear companies that now offer ophthalmics are strategically positioned.

After enduring the learning curve of creating sunwear that performs as well as dresswear and investing in equipment to cut high-base Rx lenses for wrap frames, vendors such as Maui Jim and Costa have maneuvered themselves into a unique position. They are among the few companies that not only own and manage the design and manufacture of frames and lenses, but they also operate the equipment to bring both components together into a final pair of premium, high-quality eyeglasses, whether sun or ophthalmic.

In research and development for two years, Maui Jim’s new ophthalmics for women and men pay homage to the company’s Hawaiian roots with patterns and colors reflective of the island’s lore.

Costa honors its ocean-based heritage and loyal communities of wearers while appealing to patient demand and a broader base with its new ophthalmic collection.

Wiley X, long associated with ballistic-class safety eyewear, has expanded over the years to now offer specialized products for youth, safety and sun protection.

Iconic Ray-Ban, with its branded Rx coming soon, will be part of Luxottica’s move toward a major worldwide investment in ophthalmic lenses integrated with an increasing lab presence that will include North America.

As they join the ranks of the few vertically integrated eyewear companies, these sunwear manufacturers-built on a strong foundation of quality-have embarked on a new era of expansion. The future’s so bright . . .
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