The New Sunglasses Sector
Industry disruptors challenge the traditional approaches that existing companies take to their work, replacing obstacles with intuitive thinking and creative solutions.
Currently trend reports and market insight articles all talk about the ‘next disruptor’ and the next industry to be challenged by the generation Z and the millennial demographic. However, there have been a number of industries that have started to evolve, altering the way we live, work and play, that have not been highlighted in the mainstream media.
Eyewear is an industry that many would consider couldn’t, or doesn’t need to be disrupted, but within the past few years a plethora of independent design led stores have open within London and across Europe, whilst the online experience of creating your own eyewear has flourished.
Fashion brands see eyewear like they do any other accessory or fragrance, it was imperative that they had a range in their portfolio but due to lack of knowledge they would license it out to one of the big three factories.
Previously Luxottica, Safilo and Kering Eyewear dominated, and some would argue had a monopoly, on the fashion eyewear market, representing brands such as Fendi, Gucci, Ray-Bans, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana. They had the resources, capital and industry reputation to dominate the market controlling the design, the sales channels and the mark-up.
To avoid these mark-ups the new wave of independent brands design their eyewear in house, sell to their customer directly online, and create a lifestyle or brand within a physical space. Their vertically integrated structure enables the company to be more proactive to industry changes whilst the direct customer feedback allows for a constant development of their offering, from the design of the frames to the user experience on the website.
The physical presence of these disruptor brands is different to the traditional concession stand within a department store that the fashion brands have. New stores concepts are being launched to create a lifestyle and brand around the name, with stores becoming a destination complimented with knowledgeable and attentive staff on hand. These aspirational, often minimal spaces help to focus the customer on the product and not become distracted with an assortment of other merchandise.
Unlike the dominating brands the independent brands are targeting a niche market who value original design and appreciate underground trends. Consumers are becoming more conscious of their spending habits, shifting towards experiences rather than high ticketed purchases, especially as the fashion industry is so cyclical and ephemeral.