The After Party Eyewear show just had their fourth event, this time in Seattle. A while back I had seen photos of previous events on social media and I thought to myself, what a great idea, to have an event showing only independent frame lines (I’ve always worked for independent OD’s and we try to support the independents). Well, to my surprise, about seven weeks ago The After Party announced their next show in Seattle, which is where I live. Living through seven weeks of promotion online seemed like an eternity as I was super-duper geeking out with enthusiasm to see all of the cool lines they were to host. During those weeks they continued to announce new lines which would attend the show and soon added continuing education classes, a first for an After Party.
The After Party was founded by Addie Bogart, Brett Cates and Scott Balestreri, independent eyewear frame representatives and expert partiers, who have a combined 40 years experience in the optical industry. They each travel territories over 1.8 million square miles (no joke) to reach their accounts. Addie and Brett started as opticians and have become passionate independent frame reps. They are proud to partner with the best accounts on the planet and strive to represent their collections with integrity, having fun in everything they do. I have to say, they proved all of this at their event and did not disappoint.
The driving force behind this show is about building community around supporting independent eyewear, and then bringing that to independent dispensers.
This After Party had several hundred attendees from six states. By the date of the show there was 48 independent frame lines lined up:
Alexander Daas – Andy Wolf – Article One – Asher G Cases – Bellinger – Blac – Booth and Bruce – Born in Brooklyn – Boz – Casanova – Christian Roth – Davettes – Dilem – Dillon Optics – Dita – Dolce Vita – Entourage of 7 – Etnia Barcelona – Exalto – Feb 31st – Garrett Leight – Gigi Barcelona – Gotti – JF Rey – Kala – Kirk and Kirk – Lowercase – Lunor – Matsuda – Mr. Leight – nine eyewear – Ottica Veneta – Oxibis – Rain City – Randolph Engineering – RES/REI – Robert Marc – Roger Dutch Eyewear – Rolf – Sospiri – Taxi – TC Charton – Traction – Volte Face – Xit – Zero G
I heard of The Eyewear After Party through a few Facebook groups I am a member of. I was intrigued and excited to view independent frame lines that I may not have seen before. The After Party did not disappoint! It was such a welcoming and fun environment filled with beautiful frame options. They were presented in a relaxed no pressure setting by people who have a true passion for their craft! I am thrilled to have a few new lines that I can’t wait to add to my inventory!
-Rebecca Swislow, Luminary Optical
Before I start in on the frames, let me say that the work that went into this Eyewear After Party must have been extensive because this event turned out impeccably. The venue could not have been better, including size, ambience, parking, and room for the food truck! When you arrive and check in you are given an official After Party souvenir pin, which is also your food and open bar pass! According to The After Party peeps they plan on having several more shows in 2019 and ALL OPTIONS ARE OPEN.
One of the advantages of being new, and 100% home grown is that they can be nimble. There will be a lot of opportunity for years to come where they will continue to be discovered. Dispensers are spread far and wide, and there are so many of them with different styles of business. They know it’s a huge value for local buyers to have more selection come to their town than less, so they are always looking at the next few locations with that in mind. More selection appeals to a broader base. It’s a balance that takes work and thoughtfulness to get right. Stay tuned (and follow them on Facebook or Instagram) for their next event – you won’t want to miss it!
The thing I like best about Eyewear After Party is the high quality and sheer number of the frame lines that participate. Independent lines are just that – independent! They do their own thing. So to get almost 50 of them to gather in one place is remarkable. Only folks with really deep vision industry connections like Addie and Brett could pull this off. And the event itself just keeps getting better and better. They’re constantly refining the details so it’s not just a great party, but a great selling/buying experience for everybody.
-Peggy Gartin, The Social Eye
This After Party had CE’s as a new addition and was a huge success and they will be including CE’s in each future event. They were happy to have opticians fly from across the country to take their CE classes. What’s so great about the CE classes at The After Party? They too are independent. When pitching to their speakers they said, “What have you always wanted to say or teach, that larger corporate sponsors wouldn’t allow due to political or personal hangups?”. The ABO certified classes were to be something that the speaker wanted to do, had never done before, and to know that there wouldn’t be a popularity contest afterward. Another awesome factor and true to the core independent purpose of the event.
There is no way I could possibly write about each frame line, because there were so many, BUT I’ll talk about my favs and share some of the photos from the official photog’s collection. The mix of frame companies was fabulous, there wasn’t too much of a few things but a wide variety of all kinds. I spoke to so many reps and I couldn’t even tell you how many came from outside of Washington state.
One of my favorites I have seen in media for some time yet never knew who made them. Come to find out that the CEO of the distributor (Zowee-Wow) that was there to show the line I have in fact known for around 10 years from working in a private practice. I was thrilled to not only unlock the mystery of who made these super cool frames but to also know they are distributed in North America by a stand-up guy!
The style of Roger Dutch Eyewear is unmatched. To m the specs look like they have been drawn on, almost like the wearer is in 3-D but the glasses are in 2-D. The collection is also broad enough to have some more neutral pieces for those who don’t want the bold style and color. Awesome, just awesome:
A surprise to me, Gigi Barcelona. This beautiful and patient affordable line reigns from Spain and is debuting itself in the US in 2019. This line should definitely be considered for its beauty and craftsmanship. It was a pleasure to get to see these frames before nearly anyone else in the US:
The Eyewear After Party is an amazing opportunity to learn about independent eyewear and meet people who represent and support the independents. Independent collections represent a higher level of craftsmanship and individuality and allow independent ODs to differentiate themselves from the mass chains.
-Hannah Dinglasan, Gigi Barcelona West Coast
RES/REI had a beautiful display of a deconstructed frame. Starting with the cotton flower origin for cellulose acetate material, the acetate pebbles used to marble, then the color blocking, bonding and milling that comes together to create the beautiful frames. They continue with the temple construction, showing the metal temple core, hinges and even screws. I really appreciated this breakdown and thought it was a great way to show the level of detail and quality that goes into making their frames:
A hands down crowd pleaser at this show and all over Instagram, Kirk and Kirk. These frames just feel good. They work so well for so many people because they are very classic with very simple styling but wow with color. No crazy designs or extras, just basic cyclical styling in beautiful dimensional colors:
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Showing at the After Party was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to connect with current and potential clients in a laid-back atmosphere. The chance to chat with my colleagues without the added stress of one of the big shows was wonderful and I was able to forge some meaningful connections. I’ve attended the After Party as both a Rep and an Optician and it is a wonderful way to connect to our industry and the people that make it so special and exciting.
-Lisa Winters, Kirk and Kirk / Masunaga Group
Another crowd fav: Davette’s Lunettes. The line as a whole pretty much covers everything, modern vintage, if that’s a thing. This line is a little funkier and retro than others but packs a style punch:
If you’re an independent frame brand or are a rep for an independent, I strongly recommend showing your line at an After Party event. Contact the team here to see if you can arrange something for an upcoming show. You won’t regret it.
The After Party fiercely supports independents, and in partnering with lines that have good business practices they know their dispensing customers will be taken care of.
Have you been to an After Party? Share your thoughts below!