It is a world first and it’s known as The Eye Hub – a retail optical experience to rival a trip to an Apple store with a little bit of Disneyland tossed in.
July saw the opening of this unique store in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn.
The OPSM Eye Hub is a revolutionary 1,500 square-metre, split-level optical store, an Australian innovation designed by international award winning architects e2 (designers of the AUD$10m Qantas Experience Centre and China Telecom’s pavilion at the 2010 World Expo).
e2 Creative Director Alex Ritchie says the store design was “all about vision and the inspiration for the Eye Hub’s design was based on the retina of the eye.”
This is a destination retail store where you can go with your family to buy your eyewear and just hang out. It’s a blend of eyewear, eye care, entertainment, education and retail.
The launch was documented internationally with the esteemed New York Times running a story about this amazing facility – the forerunner of other such superstores around the world.
The Times said in part: “The idea is to make buying eyewear more of an event – and in the process, entice new customers from discount chains and online shopping.
“Andrea Guerra, Luxottica’s global chief executive said, ‘Crises are not only about negative things. Where the world is changing and changing fast, your thoughts have to be bold.’
“So when a grandmother goes to pick up her reading glasses, she must navigate around a wind machine aimed at runners on treadmills (so sporty types can test the wind resistance of glasses), and shoppers snapping pictures of themselves on touch screens (can I pull off pink cat-eye frames?). There is also a children’s area that has a soft wall and videos.”
The store takes into consideration all facets of our lifestyle. There are seven optometrist rooms including pre-test rooms in different themes. There is a fun kids’ play area; the Oakley Pressure Chamber and the Revo Elements Room where sports enthusiasts and pro-athletes alike can put their eyewear to the test. And then, there is The Vault.
The Vault is the store’s centrepiece. Here, the fashion forward and luxury seekers will be met with a collection of stunning and exclusive designer eyewear. Fashion stylists will help customers match their frames to their lifestyle and can select anything from the latest Dolce & Gabbana frames to a pair of hand chosen Bvglari sunglasses, made from gold and studded with diamonds, retailing for a cool AUD$18,000.
This store is huge. There are 2,000 pieces of eyewear on display here with another 3,000 in the cabinets. The Eye Hub is the biggest optical retail store in the southern hemisphere, if not the world.
In coming up with the concept with his team in Sydney over the last two years, Chris Beer, Luxottica CEO, Asia Pacific, Greater China & South Africa, said: “We wanted to change the way retail works globally.”
“The OPSM Eye Hub has been built by the customer,” he said.
“Typically retailers tell the customer what’s going to happen when they walk in the store. This concept relies on the customers dictating their own shopping experience and includes telling a concierge, who meets them at the door, how they want to shop and what they want to spend time on.”