Back in the day, 20/20 dubbed Independent Eyewear as Heritage Eyewear and then for a few years Our Eyewear. We ditched on the “Heritage” since 20/20 increasingly felt that moniker didn’t focus on the here-and-now as it relates to consumers looking for something beyond the current crop of designer and lifestyle brands, and “Our” faded as we constantly defined and praised this distinct and growing category for its powerful independent spirit and the fact that it partnered so royally with the Independent retailers out there looking to deliver something unique to their ever personalizing consumers and patients.

I’m proud to note I’ve been focused on this Independent Eyewear segment and its importance in the opti-sphere for all of my 22 years here as editor-in-chief. I love how eyewear designer-centric it is. I’m intrigued by every facet of its existence, be it the materials used, the pricing it defines via its manufacturing and sourcing, and the very simple fact that it exists on stories devoid of fashion designer rhetoric and marketing.

It is eyewear truly set in a scenario of freedom for the vendor, the retailer and the all-important consumer looking for something special defined by eyewear’s rich heritage.

Twice a year for these last few years, I’ve had the honor of being called on to evolve and curate a panel discussion at Expo East and West devoted to this unique sector of the eyewear market via the Independent Eyewear Panel. This past Expo, the agenda was built on the header of “The Freedom of Independents” (borrowed and reinforced here in the title of our main eyewear feature) and given the chance again, I’m looking to call the next round something in the order of “Freedom Sighters” since that’s exactly what these players are be they vendors or retailers: True believers in their own ability to lead the market with their daring self-created conclusions, solutions, scenarios and… insight.

Might I also note that the power of Independent Eyewear is now so ubiquitous that we’ve decided it was time to not hedge our bets with a secondary feature devoted to fashion and lifestyle branded eyewear. The main features of this May issue are totally Indy, so to speak, and we’re equally proud that the “Spirit of Independence” feature is a partnership initiative perfectly denoting the pervasiveness of the approach.

And as nearly noted in my headline here but now completed… Freedom’s just another word for so much future greatness left to do.

James J. Spina
[email protected]