West Hollywood, CA (June 1, 2009) – Award-winning eyewear designer Blake Kuwahara is launching a new collaborative design collective, Focus Group West, a multi-disciplinary company designed to service various segments of the optical industry. Kuwahara recently resigned from his position as VP, Creative Director for REM Eyewear and Base Curve where he held this post for 5 1/2 years.
Focus Group West will be specializing in both product development and branding for the eyewear markets and beyond. “We believe there is a void in the marketplace for a creative resource that can provide design and branding services for not only wholesalers and fashion houses, but to independent optometrists and retailers as well,” Kuwahara said. “Focus Group West will serve as a hub for the interaction between product, graphic and interior designers, architects, and public relations specialists to design, develop and promote product, interior spaces and create brand identity for eyewear and fashion companies.”
Kuwahara will be joined by former colleague Thomas Ferguson who will be serving as key eyewear designer. Additionally, architect John Lum, who gained notoriety for his now iconic Urban Eyes dispensary design will be working with Focus Group West to offer his architectural services to all clients. Graphic designers Heather Chan and Becky Chan, whose expertise is in branding and corporate identity development, will head up the graphic design division. And rounding off the group, Niki Ostin of PR Lab, who handled the launch of Carolina Herrera Eyewear and John Varvatos Eyewear and works with top accessory, fashion, and entertainment brands will be overseeing public relations campaigns for clients of Focus Group West.
Focus Group West is currently discussing potential projects with clients both within and outside the eyewear industry. “The launch of Focus Group West comes at a time when retailers and wholesalers need to sharpen their game to bring to market product that will resonate with consumers and speak to the essence of the brand,” Ferguson said. “A product line has to be at its strongest to survive and thrive in today’s market.” Kuwahara went on to say, “It’s our job and responsibility to take ownership of a brand and work hand-in-hand with our client and their licensors to make sure the identity and continuity of a collection remains strong and effective.”
Kuwahara, a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is also an optometrist. He left his private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA for more creative endeavors and was the creator of KATA Eyewear, which was a favorite amongst celebrities and fashion editors alike. In addition to his signature collection, Kuwahara designed and launched the eyewear collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, Isaac Mizrahi, and Hanae Mori. He also has designed for such iconic brands as Liz Claiborne, Jones New York, and Converse as well as producing runway pieces for New York designer Behnaz Sarafpour and Rock & Republic.
Ferguson, a former optician, was the lead designer and Product Development Manager for REM’s Lucky Brand Spectacles collection and numerous house and private label brands for the company including work on the collections for John Varvatos, Carolina Herrera, and Rock & Republic.
Additional Information can be found at www.focusgroupwest.com
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