The Sophomore Store

Ray-Ban asserts its domination in eyewear with free-standing shop number two


Ray-Ban 313@Orchard.jpg

By Mao Shan Wang

After opening their first flagship in Plaza Singapura last year, you’d think that Ray-Ban would stop there. After all, the maker of Wayfarers are in virtually any eyewear store you bother to step foot in. But it has opened its second free-standing store yesterday at 313@Orchard, offering both the sunglasses they’re known for and an impressive range of frames for corrective lenses. To put into perspective, there is no Ray-Ban standalone in Hong Kong and just one in Tokyo.

Those suffering from shortsightedness (and other forms of reduced acuity of vision), I feel, would also be delighted to know that they can now buy a Ray-Ban ‘Optic’ frame and have the respective lenses fitted too. As with the PS store, Ray-Ban 313@Orchard has an in-house optometrist who is able to offer examination and prescription. When I entered the first-floor store and immediately zeroed in on a pair of octagonal frames in a colour that I later learned was called ‘Havana’, the sales guy was quick to say that I could receive an “eye check”, but, after flipping through a folder, was unable to tell me the price although I had specified the type of lens I want.

Ray-Ban RB7151 2012The octagonal Ray-Ban RB7151 series of the ‘Optics’ collection

It is note-worthy (perhaps, satisfying for some) that the corrective lenses offered are by Ray-Ban, which is interesting to me because I did not know that they make lenses like Essilor and Carl Zeiss Vision do. Admittedly, I forgot Ray-Ban were pioneers in ‘anti-glare’ lenses. I was told by the same guy that it takes “up to four to five working days” before you can collect your glasses, which I thought was too long in these days of instant gratification when many optical shops allow you to pick your new specs in about 20 minutes, but conceded that for the best, a little waiting is needed. I was not discouraged, and was set on the pair with octagonal frames and Waferer arms (the RB7151 series). I later found out that there are eight colours available for this style, but only two were shown at the store.

Despite its American roots, Ray-Ban is increasingly adopting the Italian aesthetic to perhaps reflect the provenance of Milan-based owner, Luxottica, known to be the “the world’s largest company in the eyewear industry” and rumoured to own 80% of it. Luxottica acquired Ray-Ban in 1999, including its then owner, the Global Eyewear Division of Bausch & Lomb. I remember a trip to Rome a couple of years back. At every optical shop (and there are many in Rome), tourists were not looking for Italian brands such as Persol or fashion-linked names such as Prada (both, interestingly, Luxottica-owned). Many were asking for Ray-Bans. It is, therefore, oddly assuring that their standalones here have a solid, unflashy American flavour.

Photo: Dawn Koh, (product) Ray-Ban

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