Nancy Black, Director at Cotivision, takes a look back at her background in the optical industry and shares her thoughts on 2017 eyewear trends, plus how 100% Optical provided a platform for Safarro to break into the UK market in our latest Q&A.
Can you tell me about your history in eyewear?
My history is more commercial than design oriented. It was a few years ago that I came into contact with a family run company making incredible eyewear, based just outside of Rome. We decided to collaborate on the Safarro project by bringing together the best of both our worlds.
They owned a few factories outside Rome and Milan and had years of experience in eyewear design and manufacturing. I brought to the table years of commercial and marketing experience. This union of strengths has enabled us to play with designs in the factories and give our customers unique shapes that are not available elsewhere. This point of difference and the passion that is put into the creation of the frames is real.
Furthermore, and really critical, is that they bring with them a new generation of young creative people. This has been wonderful as they challenge us to take up new ideas and ways of doing things. Without this collaboration I would not have been introduced to this sort of talent. I don’t take it for granted at all!
What inspires your eyewear designs?
The philosophy of the brand stems from the influence of Italian elegance, quality and craftsmanship. Our aim is to take classical shapes and modernise them with a twist. Colour plays a very important role in our product development and we study these by attending the major fashion events in Italy. For example, recently our marketing and design team attended the Pitti Fair in Florence – this is the leading trade fair showcasing ready-to-wear clothing and accessories collections for men and women.
We take inspiration from these events for our design and, most importantly, our colour palette for the upcoming season. We are fortunate to be based in Rome so following fashion and combining the ‘traditional’ with the ‘new’ is an everyday occurrence for us. We aspire to encase the Italian culture and today’s current fashion trends into our eyewear.
What eyewear trends can we expect to see in 2017?
Fashion forward gals are ditching the classical super dark frames in favour of soft pastel styles. The Spring/Summer 2017 trend shows a return of feminine colours and the introduction of pretty pastels into your wardrobe is a must. If embracing the head-to-toe pastel look is a bit too much for your taste, pastel glasses are a fun way to introduce that hint of freshness. Remaining true to trend, this hand made in Italy Gubbio frame from Safarro is packed with sweetness!
How has the UK market reacted to Saffaro eyewear?
We have had an amazing introduction to the market and think the timing has been perfect for us. Our collection is represented by bold colours and cosmopolitan styling. The UK optical consumer is becoming more ambitious with their choice of eyewear and there has been a general increase in awareness of “eyewear expressionism”. Consumers today are ditching their classical dark frames in favour of daring shapes and vibrant colours. They are using their choice of eyewear as an expression and extension of their own personality.
The UK market also has an appreciation for quality product which has also enhanced our appeal. The complete Safarro collection is handmade in our own factory outside of Milan. The artisans making the frames take such pride in their work and are so passionate. Every single piece of our Safarro collection passes through the hands of these amazing individuals. By telling our story, we hope that when customers hold a frame in their hands, they feel personally connected to the person in the small village who created them.
Tell us about your first experience at 100% Optical earlier this year…
Our first year exhibiting at 100% Optical has been instrumental in laying the foundations. It provided us the platform to introduce the brand to the market, but also to get valuable feedback. The energy during the show was invigorating and we were left keen to get on the road after the show to visit customers and make necessary appointments. The show definitely provided us the vehicle in which to launch the brand into the market. We have been working away since the show with the follow ups and are super excited to come back in January 2018 to further build on what we learned and achieved in 2017.