Pocket-friendly, fashionable spectacles

Friends Jerial Tan (far left) and Eddie Tan set up Visual Mass to make glasses more affordable.
Friends Jerial Tan (left) and Eddie Tan set up Visual Mass to make glasses more affordable.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Home-grown eyewear brand Visual Mass once had a customer snap up eight pairs of spectacles at a go.

Such binge shoppers are not a common sight, but the brand's co-founder, Mr Jerial Tan, says: "We see the same customers two to three times a year now, whereas in the past, it was usually just once a year, when their prescription changed or if their spectacles broke."

Mr Tan, who oversees the marketing and creative aspects of the business, founded Visual Mass with his secondary school friend, Mr Eddie Tan, in 2013. Both are 26 years old and single.

The duo had one aim: to make spectacles more affordable.

The brand, which started as an online business in 2013, now has two stores, in OrchardGateway and Marina Square. A third will open in Orchard Central in June.

 
 

Mr Eddie Tan, who has perfect eyesight and is in charge of business development, says: "It used to cost around $400 to make a pair of spectacles with prescription lenses, but it didn't make sense as it is just made of metal and plastic."

 

Prices at Visual Mass are kept relatively low. Its frames, which are designed in-house and made in South Korea and China, are priced between $95 and $195.

The spectacle designs - the temples of the glasses are mostly black with the inner side painted in bright colours such as green and purple - are easy to match with outfits. For the more adventurous, there are frames in leopard prints or a translucent wine colour.

Some frames have nose pads, which sit more comfortably on Asian faces that tend to have a lower nose bridge, says Mr Tan.

While the founders declined to reveal sales figures, they say that business doubles every year. There are also plans to expand overseas to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.

Going forward, the brand is taking on a more lifestyle-oriented approach, as evident from its Marina Square showroom, which also stocks clothing and other accessories.

Mr Jerial Tan says: "We want to show how one can match eyewear with accessories and clothing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Pocket-friendly, fashionable spectacles'. Print Edition | Subscribe