Eyewear is going the same way as streetwear. At least it is according to Safilo’s chief executive.
“The rise of digital and social media is influencing new avenues of design and aesthetic, and the trend of ‘urban athlete’ is emerging in eyewear,” Luisa Delgado said.
Delgado has been been at the helm of the 138-year-old Italian eyewear creator and distributor for three years, and is helping the company — which is the second biggest in its market — establish a social and digital media footprint to connect with millennials.
“We are in a big change, we are now modernizing ourselves,” Delgado said. “We are preserving our craftsmanship, but using digital techniques for new ways of doing business.” Fashion bloggers and influencers are key to the company’s strategy to connect with millennials, which isn’t always comfortable territory for old, well established companies, she said.
Glossy spoke with Luisa Delgado to get an insight into how the company, which has partnerships with brands including Dior, Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo, is going digital. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
What are some particular trends you’re noticing in the luxury eyewear space at the moment?
We are at the crossroads of fashion, health and consumer aspirations. We’re now going into urban athlete or athleticism where eyewear is bridging a gap between lifestyle and outdoor sports eyewear. It’s occurring in a similar way to what happened with gym footwear, where sneakers were used to go to the gym but then became streetwear.
How is digital or social media changing how Safilo does business?
Social and digital media is changing our processes in two ways. Through digital technology we are exploring what it means for our craftsmanship, 3D related prototyping for example. It also allows us to explore innovation and research, and gives us the ability to tailor make eyewear to specifically fit individual faces.
Social media has changed how we connect with consumers and how they interact and view a brand. People in general, not just millennials, do not believe institutions’ advertising anymore. They want someone they can trust, like a blogger, to tell them a product is worth buying, not a corporate figure. So we now make stories accessible to consumers through spokespeople and bloggers who take it to their followers, so relationships with them is critical.
Does that create challenges?
Yes, you have to be sure about your brand identity and equity so you are ready to hand it over for bloggers and social influencers to take it from there. It requires a bit of let go which isn’t always comfortable for a company.
What platforms does Safilo focus on?
We are on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and WeChat, and all of them have very different purposes. On Instagram for example, we see it as important to be first, and in September last year, Carrera was the first eyewear company to advertise on Instagram in Italy. The Chinese messaging app, WeChat, is also very important for us to be close to the Chinese market, which is huge. We launched an interactive video game specifically for Fendi’s Orchidea line on the app.
How do you sell to millennials?
Selling product is important both at brick-and-mortar levels and e-commerce with millennials. They want to explore and experience a brand before they buy, so online engagement is very important. That’s why we created the app #GetFramed, which allows people to see different styles of sunglasses on a photo of themselves. Sustainability and transparency is also big: Where a product comes from, who made it, who designed it, and what does it stand for. They are not looking for super luxury, but the want products to be accessible at any time. They are different to older generations who were happy to wait a year for a product no one else may have, but they want a genuine product at a price they think is fair.