This was my third visit to the UK’s largest optical trade show, and 100% Optical 2020 did not disappoint. It was the biggest and best yet and I was there wearing a number of different hats. I delivered two different presentations, one about returning to work in optometric practice, the other about the positives and pitfalls of using social media. I took over Optometry Today’s Instagram account and posted some video highlighting my three must-have sunglass styles for 2020. Along with that, I did a Q and A session for their Stories.
I am a judge in the annual AOP Excellence in Optics Awards, so attended the black-tie dinner. And of course, I tried a lot of eyewear on and caught up with friends from university and from the eyewear and optical industry.
As always, Ian was by my side, supporting me, taking photos and carrying brochures and catalogues that I pick up my way around the show. But what made 100% Optical 2020 even more special was the fact that Poppy came down for part of it. I was so proud of her and I think she was a little surprised by how many people recognised her from seeing her on my Instagram feed. Ditto Ian.
100% Optical 2020, day one.
Because I’m an official media partner to 100% Optical, I was invited to a press briefing before the show opened. We were treated to the first catwalk show of the day.
I delivered both presentations on the opening day. I was nervous at first, but soon got into my stride. The audience at both talks was very engaged and asked plenty of questions afterwards, always a reassuring sign.
I was very ready for a glass of fizz afterwards, so we went to see our friends at Bondeye for a welcome pitstop and to try some new ROAV styles.
I’ve got to know the guys from Feb31st over the last 18 months, and they kindly invited Poppy to create her own bespoke piece of eyewear. There is an almost infinite number of permutations courtesy of the choice of shape, materials, colour and engraving. She decided on a stunning metal and wood geometric frame which will be handmade at the factory in Bergamot, Italy.
Next to the Feb31st stand was this very eye-catching little display. The brand is called Le Kevin and it makes crafted leather holders for eyewear. Aren’t they fabulous?
I’ve got to know the team at Mac and Pure Eyewear too, initially via Instagram. They distribute among other brands, the Prue Leith collection by Ronit Furst. Ronit has a stunning eponymous range of hand finished eyewear. She was there at the stand so we stopped to have a chat with her.
We spent the rest of the afternoon trying more eyewear, before seeing Poppy to the DLR so she could return to Durham Uni.
100% Optical 2020, day two.
On Sunday I visited as many of the stands as I could. I had the rather difficult, but enjoyable task of choosing three sunglass styles that I think opticians should stock in 2020. This was the basis of the Instagram takeover I did for Optometry Today. Of course, it’s no hardship trying them all on, it’s just difficult to chose three from the thousands of stunning designs.
The Taylor Morris stand won the best in show and it’s easy to see why. This gorgeous Morgan was part of the display. I’m glad I had trousers on, because I certainly wouldn’t have been able to wriggle my way in wearing the sequin pencil skirt I wore the day before.
We re-visited the Mac and Pure stand to try some more styles. They carry an amazing collection with something for everyone. Of course, I was in my element.
The Eyewear Company had a great, (and very busy), stand too. I adore these sunnies.
And how fabulous are these two styles from Woow?
I wanted to catch up with Ed Bird, founder of Bird Sunglasses, an award-winning brand with a lovely ethos. I met him the first time I went to 100% Optical. We chatted about some upcoming designs which are a departure from his earlier collections and about which I’m excited. See his award-winning design in this blog post.
Eyeconart is a brilliant concept and absolutely perfect for an optical event like this one. A photographer takes a close-up photograph of one’s iris and prints it out as a photograph. It’s fascinating to see just how individual each iris is.
As I mentioned earlier, the brief for my Optometry Today Instagram takeover was to name three must-have sunglass styles for opticians to stock 2020. It was a difficult choice, but I was pleased with my decisions.
First, I picked one from Otis, a brand I worked with last year. I chose them not just because they are a super company with beautiful styles, but because they are one of the few brands that uses mineral glass lenses, rather than plastic. Read more about this cool Aussie brand here.
The second of my choices is by a relatively new eyewear company called Sea2See. This brand takes ocean plastics and repurposes it into beautiful, elegant frames. I chatted for quite a while with founder and CEO François van den Abeele, who told me more about the ethos.
I chose the third sunglass style because it captures the essence of what is currently very fashionable: a soft geometric shape. There are some beautiful hexagonal, octagonal and other polygonal styles around, softened with slightly rounded edges. This soft square in rose gold from French company Morel is on-trend, elegant and very wearable. You can see it in the landscape photographs below. The portrait images show other Morel designs that caught my eye.
The second part of the Optometry Today, (OT), Instagram takeover was a Q and A session during which I answered questions that OT followers had submitted.
100% Optical is a very sociable event. I was delighted when Carole who writes Les Lunettes Ecologiques came to say hello. We have followed each other for some time on social media so to meet in real life was a treat.
And here are Ian and I with the owner and practice manager of Benjamin Opticians, where I work.
Although 100% Optical is a three-day event, Ian and I had to leave on the Monday morning. The AOP Excellence in Optics awards on the Sunday evening was therefore, the perfect ending to 100% Optical 2020.
This blog post is part of my paid partnership with 100% Optical