Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing my experience at local eyewear label Otago Optical.
The local eyewear industry has been booming of late, with Otago Optical being the latest homegrown label to join the fray. Let’s see if they are any good.
Otago Eyewear – the Brand
Otago Eyewear was founded just a month ago in June, with a mission “…to deliver the latest fashion that fits you, with the quality that you deserve, at fair and honest prices”.
Otago Optical further promises to have “no pushy personnel upselling pricey products, complicated coupon codes, or messy memberships”. In other words, Otago Optical strives to deliver a fuss-free buying experience where customers walk away (hopefully happy) with a value-for-money pair of spectacles.
Without further ado, let’s see what it’s like to get a pair of glasses from Otago Optical.
Otago Optical – the Experience
Otago Optical is located at South Bridge Road, on the third level of a shophouse. It admittedly isn’t the easiest to locate – I was advised to look out for the huge pineapple display of Kele as a landmark.
Once inside however, I found the showroom to be brightly lit and cosy. A wide array of frames are meticulously displayed on the tables, while a variety of informational posters adorn the wall.
I met with Tim, who handles the everyday operations of the store (including customer interactions). Having been in the industry for over a decade – he’s actually a certified optometrist – Tim was immensely knowledgable about all things optical, and wasted no time sharing with me the different properties of the spectacles on offer. For example, he demonstrated how several of Otago’s spectacles are actually flexible, making them more durable and less prone to accidental breakage/damage.
Tim also explained to me the misconception surrounding blue-light lenses. “Scientifically speaking, there are no real medical benefits to blue light lenses,” he said. Instead, Otago Optical offers violet-light blocking lenses, which help block both harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays as well as violet-light which has higher energy. “It’s useful for those who are frequently outdoors and under the sun,” he said, but clarifies that the lenses don’t help with digital eye strain – though neither do blue-light lenses. In other words, there’s no need to top up significantly for blue light lenses.
There were also more posters on all things optical, which Tim was more than happy to elaborate on. Unlike other eyewear stores where the main focus is on selling, Otago Optical seeks to educate its customers so that they can make an informed purchase.
To further aid customers, Otago Optical has a streamlined “honest package pricing”. It comprises three tiers (orange, green and blue), which costs $60, $90 and $120 respectively. The price includes frame, lenses and eye test, making it very value-for-money. The top-up for violet blocking costs a mere $20 as well.
Aside from providing a complimentary upgrade to thinner lenses for those with high myopia, Otago Optical also stresses that there are “no hidden charges, no GST, no kena chop”.
The entry-level range mainly comprises plastic frames, and is somewhat limited in style. Tim relays that this range is more popular amongst budget-conscious schoolchildren/NSFs, as well as seniors who simply need a pair of reading glasses.
In contrast, the middle range is decidedly more fashion-forward, though frames are still mainly made from plastic. Several of the plastic ones are flexible for better durability, and include trendy designs such as transparent and tinted frames. For those that like to look trendier but don’t want to spend too much, the green range is a good Goldilocks option.
Lastly, the premium $120 range consists of mostly metal frames, including some titanium ones. Many of them are thin – very oppa-like and in vogue.
It was from this range that I found the Omata, which Otago describes as a “hexagonal, larger-than-usual minimalist metal frame”. Made from titanium alloy, the Omata is also lightweight and durable.
I was particularly attracted to the Silver colourway, which had light blue temple tips for an added burst of colour. I’ve yet to own a pair of silver spectacles, and blue just so happens to be one of my favourite colours (see my outfit above). As such, the Silver Omata felt like a match made in heaven for me, and I indicated to Tim that I would take it.
Otago Optical – Eye Test
With the frames chosen, all that was left was the eye test.
Firstly, Tim checked the prescription of my current pair of spectacles, which he noted down as a guideline.
Next was the automatic machine, which I learnt was called an autorefractor. As its name suggests, it is a computer-controlled machine that provides a measurement of refractive error. Optometrists often use an autorefractor as a starting point for providing prescription tests.
After the autorefractor test, I was subjected to the more conventional eye test, where Tim manually tested for several key aspects, such as the distance between my eyes (to ensure the pupils of my eyes align with the centre of the lenses), as well as my degree and my astigmatism by asking me to read a bunch of small letters on the screen.
I then learned from Tim that the distance vision test is meant to be conducted at a distance of 6 metres (or 20 feet), thus giving us the terms “20/20” and “6/6” vision to describe those with perfect eyesight. I was previously unaware of this fact – I’ve certainly done eye tests at less than 6 meters before. As Otago Optical’s shopfront is slightly limited in size (about 3 metres in width), Tim smartly makes use of a mirror to ‘double’ the distance, ensuring an accurate eye test.
Overall, I had a great experience at Otago Optical. I had a blast picking a new pair of spectacles, and found the transparent pricing refreshing for the infamously opaque optical industry (puns intended). However, what I appreciated most was the education that Tim imparted. I left feeling educated about all things eyewear, which is something I can’t say about other eyewear stores I’ve been in. I sense the genuine passion Tim possesses for optometry, as well as his authenticity – he has pride in his work, and it shows.
Otago Optical – Omata
Let’s now take a closer look at the Omata frame.
The titanium frame of the Omata is thin and svelte – very trendy. There’s definitely a Korean-esque vibe to the frame, but it’s not overly oppa, for the lack of a better word. It’s neither too round nor too squarish, thus being a nice balance of youth and seriousness.
In fact, I fell in love with the hexagonal shape of the Omata. It definitely makes me look younger (as compared to my previous spectacles), but still age-appropriate. I’ve worn these with a suit as well as casual wear, and the Omata proved to be equally at home with both. In other words, it’s a versatile frame that suits almost every occasion/outfit.
Despite being thin and lightweight, the Omata never came across as flimsy. In fact, it’s the opposite – I was genuinely surprised at how sturdy it felt. I suppose that is due to its titanium construction (titanium is several times stronger than steel), and I’m confident it will stand the test of time. It definitely feels much more durable than the thin gold frame I got from Foptics, albeit being twice the price.
Conclusion – so Otago Optical “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. I thoroughly enjoyed both the experience – interacting with Tim was highly educational and he was the opposite of pushy – and the frame. I’m also a big fan of its value proposition. Despite being part of the premium range, the Omata (with lenses and eye test) only costs $120, making it eminently affordable. That’s cheaper than the average frame from Owndays, or even the previous metal frame I got from Oblique Eyewear. I would say that’s a steal, especially considering that the titanium construction of the Omata.
Those interested in purchasing eyewear from Otago Optical can quote SHIOK10 or shout “WAHSOSHIOK” in-store to enjoy $10 off all premium lens upgrades (e.g. EasyClean lenses, photochromic lenses). That means that you can get a frame with lenses from Otago Optical from just $50! The promotion is valid till the end of June 2023. Each frame even comes with a specially designed suede spectacle case as well as a thick cleaning cloth (Tim shared that thin cleaning cloths are more prone to damaging the lenses) – bang-for-buck indeed.
View the full range of frames available at Otago Optical here.
Otago Optical’s Location: 264 South Bridge Road, #03-01, Singapore 058813
P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.
P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.