London, United Kingdom – “It was immediately clear to everyone that this was something special,” says Luisa Delgado, managing director of Italian eyewear licensing giant Safilo, recalling the time she saw the first pair. of Dior’s “So Real” sunglasses roll off the production line at Safilo’s specialized factory for metal frames in Longarone, a small town in northeastern Italy. “All the technicians and workers got together to see it, discuss it. Of course, you could see that there was no bridge, a very interesting construction, but the most special thing was that it was portable.
Safilo and Christian Dior have been making eyewear together for over 20 years, but the popularity of sunglasses brand Dior surged forward with the release of the “So Real” line for the spring / summer 2014 season. From £ 310 to £ 539 ($ 400 to $ 700), the range had eye-catching lenses a few millimeters thick. The uniqueness of the lenses, as well as the visual signature of the finely crafted aviator-shaped frames, in particular the absence of a nose bridge, immediately seduced the sensitivity of the Instagram generation. Indeed, very few branded sunglasses are recognizable by their shape alone. are Dior.
“Dior pushes the boundaries in the sunglasses business,” says Sarah Blair, senior vice president and divisional merchandising manager for women’s accessories and footwear at Barneys. “Their creations are innovative and modern, true fashion statements. The brand has been on a major trajectory since 2014 with iconic styles like “So Real” and the new aviator “Split 1” leading the company. “
“Dior is one of the best-selling eyewear brands in Lane Crawford. There has been a growth in demand for the brand, especially since the launch of the ‘So Real’ style, confirms Su Kim, senior vice president of merchandising and operations at Pedder Group, which manages Lane’s footwear and accessories department. Crawford.
Dior eyewear generates sales of around 190 to 200 million euros (around 212 to 223 million dollars) across all distribution channels, according to Luca Solca, head of luxury at Exane BNP Paribas. To put this in context, Solca believes that Chanel, a key competitor and a larger company, whose sunglasses are “more expensive and less widely distributed”, generates eyewear revenue of around 120 million euros (approximately $ 133.9 million).
We don’t just want to grow with the category, we want to lead the growth.
“Dior enjoys one of the highest growth rates in our portfolio,” says Delgado. Safilo produces eyewear for 28 brands, ranging from luxury brands like Céline, Givenchy and Dior to accessible names like Havaianas and Banana republic. In August 2016, the company reported group wholesale revenue of 612.4 million euros (nearly $ 684 million) for the first six months of the year.
For brands like Dior, eyewear is a licensing activity that requires little investment, but is extremely valuable – not only in terms of generating direct revenue (brands normally charge 6% royalties), but also in terms of direct revenue generation. because of the entry-level positioning of the category, which functions as a gateway to the brand. “The impact of its success extends to brand visibility and media spending,” says Solca.
Delgado believes that there are three elements to the success of Dior sunglasses: “An extraordinary product, an extraordinary communication and an extraordinary distribution,” she says. In addition to the innovative design of the product itself, the decision to fully integrate eyewear into the wider Dior brand through a wide range of touchpoints, from its campaigns to its catwalks, has been a key factor in success. “It’s a holistic approach, seeing the glasses as part of the total. In everything that is done, glasses are an integral part, ”explains Delgado.
Of course, to justify the approach, the product had to be up to the task. By investing in innovative design and innovative materials and treatments, Safilo has created a range luxurious enough to sit comfortably alongside Dior’s ready-to-wear, unlike other licensed eyewear lines, which often feature generic plastic frames, with the brand emblems glued to them. arms. The range of Dior eyewear can be sold at a price much more in line with the positioning of luxury ready-to-wear than other licensed products.
The endorsement of celebrities and influencers, and strong editorial support from fashion publications have also helped Dior stand out from its competition. “One indicator we use is the DMR (Digital Media Research), where external companies measure the editorial returns of brands. It’s earned publicity – unpaid – and of course, it’s an indicator of the brand awareness, desirability and presence of the Dior eyewear brand. Dior is our best performing brand in these measures, with the exception of a few Latin American countries, ”says Delgado. “The ‘So Real’ style has been seen the world over by everyone from bloggers and models to celebrities. Visibility anchored alongside seamless architectural lines, a modern take on the traditional aviator with the brand’s couture aesthetic, emotionally engaged the customer, ”adds Kim.
More importantly, the distribution strategy has been hyper-selective, unlike the less controlled strategies typical of most licensing agreements. “Creating and maintaining a very desirable brand requires increasing the level of quality of the doors. With Dior, we have entered what we call hyper-selectivity with doors. You want fewer doors, better doors, more productive doors, ”says Delgado.
You want fewer doors, better doors, more productive doors.
To achieve “more growth in fewer doors”, Safilo reiterates and continually improves its Dior product with a constant stream of new materials, colors and shapes, including distinctive colored lenses in tones not possible for cheaper models. “For each collection, you’re really talking about three models, not just one. You want to constantly interpret it in different versions that give you different prices, different aesthetics. This continuous reinterpretation, collection after collection, requires a lot of technical understanding and expertise, but with that and a strong brand combined, you can really create a lasting and expanding story, ”says Delgado.
“Dior is one of our best-selling sunglasses lines. As soon as it was possible for us to stock the collection that we have made, the popularity is enormous and it does not weaken. The most popular frame is the “So Real”, but other forms are starting to compete, including the split aviator and the new “Diorama”, explains Natalie Kingham, purchasing director of Matchesfashion.com.
Looking to the future, Delgado plans to exploit the growing opportunities in men’s and optical eyewear. “To develop your business in a more robust and sustainable way, you always want to develop the foundation”, she explains, “But today, Dior Homme is taking over and growing considerably and we are really very happy because the men’s category in eyewear is clearly a growing category. And then you have the third angle: optics has become a design object and therefore optics can receive the halo effect of the sun’s success. not just want to grow with the category, we want to lead the growth.
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Editor’s Note: This article was revised on August 15, 2016. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Safilo reported group wholesale revenue of 612.4 million euros (nearly $ 684 million) in 2015. It is is incorrect. The group achieved a turnover of more than 1.3 billion euros in 2015. The reported turnover for the first half of 2016 amounted to 612.4 million euros.