If recent patterns in demand are indicative of a larger trend, get ready for some 'lean' years in the optical industry. The market consensus says eyewear frames are getting thinner, perhaps showing that the excesses of the late 1990s have come to an end. 'Materials tend to be lightweight and durable - be it plastic or metal,' according to a Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) report. 'Thin renditions espouse the impression of lightness, and light metals such as titanium continue to generate growing enthusiasm among shoppers. Plastic frames also keep pace with this trend towards thin and lightweight. Metal and plastic combinations are also getting more popular for richer and more varied looks.' The report says rimless and semi-rimless styles are the dominant seasonal trend this year, while rectangular eye-shapes are generating more buzz than others. Ovals and round shapes are also expected to make a comeback shortly. Styles for recreational sunwear are looking more outgoing. Prominent trends include large eye-shapes without borders, reminiscent of the 'out there' feel of the mid-1970s. 'Acetate is regaining its former popularity and tortoise/Havana colours are emerging,' the report says. 'Quality, higher-priced sunwear is getting more attention from consumers who are ready to pay more and tend to buy sunwear from dispensers. 'Sporty sunwear is gaining momentum from a consumer perspective, as sports enthusiasts tend to buy sunglasses that will perform on the beach, on the ski slopes, and at other events.' Another booming category is spectacles for children. These include bright colour frames decorated with popular icons such as characters from Disney and Sesame Street, as well as Scooby-Doo and Barbie. Hong Kong-based firm Arts Optical has arrangements with overseas brands, including Theme and Garfield, for the production and distribution of sunglasses. 'More durable frames are sometimes preferred as children may be less careful in handling this kind of half-toy, half-necessity product,' says the report. 'When it comes to frame selection, children's priorities include appearance, brand recognition, and comfort.' Metal frames are common among children's lines, but interest in durable plastics is growing. Manufacturers are increasingly exporting products under their own brand names, according to the HKTDC. 'Licensing arrangements with brand holders overseas to produce for world-famous design brands are growing.'