I just returned from London and the 9th Edition of 100% Optical. For those of you keeping track, you are right, the odometer this year is clicking away like crazy. I have made three trips across the Atlantic so far this year and each trip has been well worth sitting on an airplane for upwards of 10+ hours. Luckily for me, British Airlines has a nice nonstop flight from Denver to London, which makes traveling there nice and easy. The addition of the new Elizabeth line to the London subway system made getting to the ExCel Center area of London a breeze. Perhaps too much of a breeze and my hotel had no rooms ready when I arrive mid-morning on Friday, the day before the show.
Lucky for me, two friends staying there had alternative plans. With my luggage safely stored, we headed off for central London, past the newly renovated Big Ben tower at the Palace of Westminster, past Buckingham Palace, and to a wonderful and innovative coffee shop called EL&N where I had a remarkable golden latte made with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Taking a leisurely walk back we saw Little Nellie from the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice on display at Harrods and visited Baker Street to see the Sherlock Holmes statue. Returning back to our hotel later in the day, my room was ready for me and after dinner with another friend, I retired early for the start of 100% Optical the next morning.
100% Optical is a growing show. While not the size of a MIDO, SILMO, or even a Vision Expo East, it is a big show and getting bigger by the year. 100% Optical is a British show showcasing the best in brand name and independent optical to optometrists and opticians across the United Kingdom. I even met several American and Canadian optical shop owners who came over to enjoy London and see what’s new in optical.
Each show I visit has something uniquely great about them that visitors pay close attention to. I recently wrote about the Lab Academy at MIDO where small independent brands are showcased in a busy strip of stands. It is without question the best real estate of any optical trade show I’ve been to. 100% Optical also has something wonderful worth visiting multiple times. While the Main State at 100% Optical is filled with wonderful instructive classes for CPD (CE here) credits, the Catwalk stage is where 100% Optical features a terrific series of lively optical fashion shows. These are the highlight of 100% Optical and each fashion show is standing-room only. Every brand showing at 100% Optical is well represented and their products are highlighted on the screens to either side of the stage whilst the performers do their choreographic gigs. It is a lot of fun to watch.
When the catwalk isn’t being used for a fashion show, there are plenty of seminars and panels for opticians and optometrists to attend, participate in and learn from. I was honored to present three different seminars this year, and while I was losing my voice in the end, the audiences were welcoming and engaged.
100% Optical is more than just eyewear. There are plenty of lens, lab, and equipment companies showing their latest wares, both hard and soft. All of the buying groups seemed to be represented as well.
At the end of the first day each year, it is time for the Love Eyewear Awards, the heavily anticipated awards show where eyewear from around the world is showcased for a chance to win this coveted trophy. This year’s winners were:
- New Designer 2023 – Ffin Eyewear
- Women’s Frame of the Year – OtrO Eyewear – Arena
- Women’s Sunglasses Frame of the Year – Woody’s Eyewear – NEON – G
- Men’s Frame of the Year – Struktur Eyewear – The Paris Light
- Men’s Sunglasses Frame of the Year – Ffin Eyewear – ANA
- Unisex Frame of the Year – Pepe Jeans London – Bangkok
- Luxury Frame of the Year – Yohji Yamamoto – SL014-A008
- Kids Frame of the Year – Rolf – Kudu
- Sustainable Frame of the Year – Vava – CL0012
- Eyewear Accessory of the Year – Ampere – Dusk
- Eyewear Retailer of the Year – The Focal Rooms by The BilBro & Co, Co.
- Most Engaging Practice Window – Bespoke Eyewear
100% Optical features large multinational brands and small independent brands as well. It is a terrific avenue for UK optometrists and opticians to see the depth and breadth of what’s available in a wonderfully run show that is a joy to attend. Each year more and more brands are testing the waters in the UK and 100% Optical is the place to do it. Over 10,000 optical professionals attended 100% Optical this year. Those are Vision Expo numbers. That’s pretty darn good too, considering the US is 40 times bigger than the UK.
Next year marks the 10th Anniversary of 100% Optical and word has it that the show will be even more spectacular and stupendous. Join the Optical Journal at 100% Optical, February 24-26 in London, England. For more information visit their website 100percentoptical.com.