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

Double The Bridge

RB 4256

At a glance, this pair of shades looks a tad like Persol’s ‘Reflex Edition’, advanced to appeal to a new generation of consumers who have a weakness for retro eyewear. They are, in fact, a Ray-Ban conception: the RB4256. What caught our eyes is not the vintage look, but the two bridges, a design detail in eyewear that has been ubiquitous in Italy for some time now. This version has a slightly curved upper bridge that works extremely well with the rounder Asian face, and, especially, brows that are not linear or shaped to look like those of Hong Kong actors playing the pugilists of Qing-dynasty China. The gold tint of the hardware, too, gives it a touch of modern luxury.

The double-bridge frame is not new to Ray-Ban as its classic aviators (including the Aviator Light II that we love) sport the two parallel bars above the nose. What makes the RB 4526—a shape inspired the Gatsby series—unique is the vaguely N-shaped lower bridge that recalls 19th-century pinc-nez. As counterpoint to what may be a very classical detail, the lenses of this matte tortoise shell pair are covered by mirror coating of a rather vibrant blue: exactly the shade to draw attention and yet deflect the satisfaction shining through delighted eyes.

Ray-Ban RB4256 blue mirror sunglasses for men and women, SGD235, is available at authorised dealers nationwide. Photo: Jim Sim

This Pink’s The Thing

Pink PowerFrom top left: Samsung Fast Charge Batter Pack 5200mAh, Apple Watch Edition 38mm 18-karat rose gold case with rose gray modern buckle, Garmin Vivofit 2 with rose gold band, iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, Ray-Ban Round Metal Flash Lenses, and Adam Elements 256GB iKlips Lightning USB3.0 dual-interface flash drive

By Low Teck Mee

Please don’t say pink is the new black. It isn’t. I’ll take orange for my black; just don’t make me think pink. Well, not the pink Apple is trying to pass off as ‘Rose Gold’. A pink in any other name is still pink even in a hue that’s not quite easy on the eye at first glance. Thanks to the Cupertino company, much of the tech world is now enamoured with this shade of diluted air bandung. Even fashion accessories cannot escape the grip of this weak colour. And men are taking a shine to it as if life will be rosier with it.

I really don’t get iPhone 6S and the Plus version that are stained in that misleading, if not trying, ‘Rose Gold’. I was, frankly quite shocked when I first saw it at Nubox months ago. I asked the eager-to-sell-me-this-pink (!) sales guy what he thought of it and he smugly answered with a question: “Do you know it is the most popular colour now?” Or course I did not know. Who would have guessed that the chromatic love child of gold ingot and png kueh could find so many admirers?

Know I came to when I started seeing USB drives, USB data/charging cables, USB car chargers, portable hard drives, mini speakers and so many more I cannot now remember in that colour that makes me weep. And then there’s Ray-Ban’s Round Metal—a style I truly like—looking at me as if it had emerged from the wrong vat of dye. Poor thing. Ray-Ban’s eyewear has always been associated with a certain machismo. You can’t get manlier than a pair of aviator. Yet, here we have a pair of sunglasses eager to be part of Apple’s epicene ecosystem!

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t subscribe to colours as determinant of gender identity. I don’t dislike pink; I equate it with a shade of subtle pleasure: strawberry milkshake, cotton candy, cherry blossoms, and albino dolphins. I don’t connect it to the back of what’s considered the world’s best-selling smartphone. Pink is a nice colour for clothes—Chanel does some pleasing pinks, so does Raf Simons. Pink’s good for sneakers, too—even Nike’s Air Max 90, a hunk of a shoe, comes in pink (regrettably, Asics Gel Lyte 3 has released, gasp, a ‘Rose Gold Pack’!). But this pink, the metallic pink that’s oddly on the cloying side, this pink that’s neither Champagne nor Zinfadel; this is, to me, a poor pink.

‘Tis the season of giving: some hapless chap is going to be stuck with a thing in this pink.

Framed In Your Favourite Blue


Blue denim is all the rage this season, and Ray Ban won’t be left out. Their classic Wayfarers are given a rugged, work wear treatment that will surely impress James Dean if this could go back to the 1950s. What astounded us at first sight is the frame. It’s made of actual denim fabric which reportedly took two years to develop, and is layered through a compression technique that yields its solidness. The denim, although not from coveted producers such as Kurabo Mills or selvedged, sport a texture and a blue that will pair with any of your expensive denim threads. The frame feels tough in the hands, but strangely has a soft appeal. As Mr Dean once said, ” Only the gentle are ever really strong”.

Ray Ban Original Wayfarer Denim is available at leading eyewear stockists and Sunglass Hut nationwide

They’re Foldable Too

Ray Ban round classic foldingRegular readers of SOTD may be aware that we love classic shades given a modern makeover. No other brand reinvents their well-loved frames better and more convincingly than Ray-Ban. Take this classic Round Metal. They’re the Aviator’s sexier sibling and they come in a more organic form factor: something Puyi, the last emperor of China, might have picked if he needed sunglasses. This new reiteration is fitted with lenses that have a clear rim, allowing the tinted shapes to ‘float’ right in the middle of the frames while offering the wearer’s eyes UV protection. The overall handsomeness is enhanced by the curved bridge, which is etched with what appears to be vintage details. In addition, they can be folded to a size no larger than a camera’s lens cap. That’s nifty!

Ray-Ban Round Folding Classic, SGD 520, are available at Sunglass Hut, island wide

Aviators Revisited

Rayban Aviator Flat MetalHow many times can you reinvent classic frames? Apparently, quite many. Just look at Ray-Ban’s aviator sunglasses. First introduced in 1936 for pilots to protect their eyes up in the air and available to the public a year later, these aviators—as we now call them—have seen editions too numerous to remember. And we’re not even counting the colours!

The latest, the Aviator Flat Metal RB, deserves special mention for their lack of retro pretentions. Here, Ray-Ban is clearly looking forward than to the past. These shades are in step with a certain minimalist sensibility many of us love, even when popular trends prove otherwise.

We’re, therefore, partial to the ultra-thin frame, laser cut from stainless steel so that they look quite different from the classic version, hence it’s name. The Flat Metal treatment, in fact, first appeared on Ray-Ban’s much-loved Wayfarer, giving these Fifties plastic standard a new-material makeover.

For the Aviator Flat Metal, the frame is more girthed than usual, creating a corridor that lends the glasses a futuristic air. Incredibly, the total package is lighter than its predecessors. Extra appeal comes in the polarised lenses, particularly useful against those pesky UV rays, so unavoidable on our sun-soaked island.

Clearly the Aviator Flat Metal is the pair to go with a Raf Simons suit while one lolls on a Kenneth Cobonpue ‘Mermaid’ chaise longue. Smile not required.

Ray-Ban Aviator Flat Metal RB, SGD 345, is available at authorized Ray-Ban retailers

Camo In Arms

Ray Ban Waferer CamoThe camouflage print has infiltrated so much of non-military fashion that you would have thought that nothing we have worn has escaped its use. Until you meet the latest issue of Ray-Ban’s classic Wayfarer. The sunglasses, made more iconic when Tom Cruise wore them on in the 1983 movie Risky Business, has gone through many colour and pattern treatments before, but this is the first time its arms are treated with the immediately identifiable warfare-in-the-jungle pattern. Available in five colourways, this Urban Camouflage collection is the stuff of those whose idea of cool is closely linked to army fatigues.

Ray-Ban Urban Camouflage Wayfarer, SGD310, is available at Sunglass Hut, Tangs, and Wisma Atria