Jason Kirk, the 38-year-old British designer, left the last SILMO show with 60 percent more orders than in the previous year, which had been marked by his victory of the 2003 Silmo D'Or award. He opened numerous new accounts and reported particular success in France, Italy and the Far East, after presenting a new line of acetate frames, called ?Kirk Heroes,? which are less sculpted and slightly less expensive than his mainstay ?Kirk Originals? collection.

Both lines are manufactured in France. The funky new range of six frames, which targets students and other young people, wholesales at €89 a piece, as compared to €105-130 for the main line. Each frame comes with a pack of six playing cards, showing a different character for each of the six frames and a story on the back of the card that describes its personality with a touch of English humor. The idea behind this communication drive was to create a personal contact with each individual consumer. The ?Kirk Heroes? frames have dual-color arms and colorful transparent exteriors through which the metallic interior is visible. The line was going to be introduced to the trade at the New York and Milan shows last Spring, but its presentation was delayed.

The new line should allow the company to resume the rapid growth rate that it enjoyed in 2003, when its sales outside the UK doubled, with good results in France and Italy. The company, which sold a total of 5,000 frames in 2003, now has clients in 25 different countries. While its wholesale revenues grew by 9 percent in the first nine months of this year, sales at its single own store in London's Covent Garden were up by only 2 percent year-on-year. Four years ago, Kirk was going to concentrate on retailing, with a plan to open 8 stores in the UK, but he then changed his mind and decided to market his own distinctive collection internationally.