Enduring allure of luxury

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In the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as governments mandated lockdowns, banned travel and forced businesses to temporarily shutter, experts warned that 2020 would be a difficult and potentially devastating year for the luxury goods industry.

Bain & Company, a leading advisor to the world’s luxury industry, says the global personal luxury goods market fell by about 25 per cent in the first quarter of the year and warned in its spring update that the pandemic could lead to a contraction of 20 to 35 per cent for 2020.

While those industry forecasts seemed grim, it looks like the luxury eyewear industry has been able to weather the pandemic.

“While we initially thought that the luxury eyewear market might take a serious downturn due to the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, this has actually not been the case,” says Eric Blanchette, executive vice-president of Safilo North America (Canada & Eastern USA).

“In fact, there seems to be pent up demand for luxury products since our customers reopened. It makes consumers feel good to be wearing a luxury brand of eyewear, especially in light of the current times, as people want to treat themselves to a little indulgence after months of only shopping for essentials, and especially, since the rest of one’s face is covered by a mask for the foreseeable future.”

Luxury eyewear, he noted, is a “relatively inexpensive” way for consumers to have access to high-end luxury brands like Fendi or Dior, “without spending thousands of dollars on a bag or shoes.”

The Bain & Company report noted that luxury accessories have shown the most resilience amid the pandemic.

And experts say as restrictions ease and travel increases, consumers are searching post-lockdown for items that are well-made, sustainable and will last.

Blanchette said Safilo’s accounts are “gravitating towards eyewear that can truly be distinguished as luxury items.”

The big logo mania trend has been a strong seller within the company’s Fendi, Dior and Jimmy Choo collections, he said, as well as “anything from a styling perspective that links back to the fashion house in a recognizable way.”

“The new F is Fendi collection, for example, is selling through very well because the Fendi logo is prominently displayed over the front of the frames. Scarcity also plays a role when it comes to luxury eyewear; consumers really appreciate limited edition styles or special launch collections and these aspects really drive sales and consumer sell-through.”

Safilo is the leader in the premium sector for sunglasses, optical frames and sports eyewear, with multiple luxury brands in its portfolio.

The fall/winter 2020 Jimmy Choo women’s eyewear collection features new styles designed for the confident, sophisticated and subtle Jimmy Choo women who dare to stand out.

New styles include the GOLDY/S sunglasses, which feature a perfect round shape uniquely adorned by a row of 64 hand-applied Swarovski crystal baguettes shining on the sides.

Jimmy Choo Jan/S sunglasses are available in: shiny black with the JC logo all-over the grey lenses for a more fashionable appeal; black with glitter front and dark grey lenses; black with black glitter temples and grey shaded lenses; nude with glitter front and brown shaded lenses; and Havana with nude glitter temples and brown shaded lenses.

The Fendi women’s eyewear collection for fall/winter 2020 features new sophisticated sunglasses and optical frames.

New sunglasses include the Fendi FF 0436/G/S, squared sunglasses that are available in transparent brown with gold lenses with FF logo-all over pattern, crystal green with gold lenses with FF logo all-over pattern, transparent grey with grey mirror lenses with FF logo-all over pattern and transparent orange with silver lenses with FF logo all-over pattern.

New optical frames include the Fendi FF 0443, which are cat-eye frames that are available in Havana with FF logo all-over, black, striped Havana and pink.

rag & bone eyewear, also produced by Safilo, has launched a Made in Japan capsule collection that features the RNB 9005/S for men. These navigator style sunglasses are offered with an acetate front and titanium temples.

Serengeti is another eyewear brand that ticks off all of the “luxury” boxes: specs made of the highest-quality materials, timeless designs, elegance and a respected history.

“Serengeti wants your sunglasses to make a statement about who you are, while at the same time giving you unsurpassed visual acuity and protection. The beautifully crafted, high-quality frames, combined with Serengeti’s leading lens technology that includes photochromic lens, Spectral Control and polarization, come in a myriad of styles that have been designed to be classic and timeless,” says René Gerber, senior marketing manager – North America, for Bollé Brands.

“Luxury eyewear, like Serengeti, may come with a higher price tag, but from the moment you put it on your face and experience the unique look, quality and exceptional lens technology, price no longer becomes the defining purchasing factor.”

Gerber says spending more time at home during the pandemic has given people a chance to evaluate themselves and figure out their uniqueness.

“Serengeti is all about expressing your own sense of style and the sunglass collections are designed to complement your individuality. When choosing a sunglass, many people see price as the biggest consideration, but there is so much more to this experience.”

Serengeti’s new styles in its Acetate collection are a perfect example of artistic expression in sunglasses. The Alray and Lela are both trendy and classic with timeless styling that takes you back to the ‘50s, but are updated with a modernized rounder frame, premium materials and refined finishes to ensure you stand out from the crowd, Gerber says.

Arlie and Lenwood are shaping up to be a firm favorite. Arlie is a unisex round shape characterized by a slight key nose that adds a touch of modernity, while Lenwood is a larger rectangular shape designed more specifically for men.

Marchon Eyewear, meanwhile, has many luxury brands in its portfolio, including Karl Lagerfeld, MCM and DKNY.

Salvatore Ferragamo eyewear by Marchon blends exceptional craftsmanship with timeless style.

The brand’s new vintage-style models for men reinterpret iconic Salvatore Ferragamo features, such as the Gancini detail on the temples, while at the same time accentuating unique details like texturized effects, enameled touches and contrasting finishes.

The new collection, which features rectangular shapes, more rounded styles and classic aviator frames, “explores shiny materials, unexpected combinations and intricate decorations, which attest to the brand’s unparalleled excellence and meticulous care over every single detail,” according to the Marchon Eyewear team.

New Salvatore Ferragamo styles for men include the SF227S, which are classic, rectangular sunglasses that boast a full-rim metal design with an acetate brow line and textured metal bridge.

New optical styles include the SF2192, a classic round optical frame that is interpreted with a lightweight metal structure characterized by a sleek textured bridge and thin temples of varying thicknesses

Etnia Barcelona is the premiere Spanish luxury optical and sunglass brand.

The team at Etnia says investing in a high-quality product is the new luxury, especially when it comes to visual health.

“It’s important to spend on quality always, but especially on quality eyewear during COVID times because your hands are in constant contact with the eyes and mouth. Not to mention, having good hygiene with a high-quality acetate frame. This pandemic is showing to consume more consciously and at Etnia we produce our frames in completely owned factories with technologies that help reduce the environmental impact and guarantee a long-lasting quality product, with a focus on an ethical manufacturing line. We are in a moment where sustainable consumption is the new luxury.”

New looks by Etnia Barcelona include The Watcher Sun, feminine sunglasses with a design that is very creative. Their large round shape is perfect for those who appreciate the richness in detail. The gold metal frame enhances the natural acetate with geometric design on the temple tips, or on the front with double lamination and two-tone finish.

Natural acetate sunglass styles Corso Como Sun, Mobay Sun and Simbo Sun will also be hot this fall.

Canadian design house Spectacle Eyeworks Inc. attributes its success to maintaining a reputation for producing premium quality frames and displaying ingenuity in design, while offering unsurpassed customer service.

Mehran Baghaie, operations director and designer, says he believes Spectacle Eyeworks is synonymous with “affordable luxury.”

“We deliver luxurious ‘product and service,’ however with affordable prices that allow people from any walks of life to enjoy Spectacle Eyeworks,” he says. “We at Spectacle Eyeworks are not targeting solely one specific layer of society – “the wealthy’ ”

Popular styles by Spectacle Eyeworks include the masculine Doug, which boasts an oxidized steel brow piece, and Yvette, with its curved sensuality.

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