Indie Eyewear Brands Disrupt Category, Appeal to Different Fashionista Set

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Accessories, however secondary they may be perceived by the general public, are the bread and butter of luxury labels, Forbes reports. So how does an independent firm compete? Won Lee, CEO of Gentle Monster, says: “Now there’s a proliferation of eyewear brands, including independent ones like us, due to the expectation on fashion brands to have their own eyewear lines—much like fragrances. This makes the slice of the pie even smaller for all and makes eyewear distribution more complex and aggressive.”

"Essentially, independent eyewear brands are not targeting a large base, but are catering to a niche population that value original designs and standing apart from a more uniformed, trend-​driven crowd," Barry Samaha explains. "It may sound like an antiquated business model (almost couture-​like), but for Gentle Monster, Krewe and Pared, the global market has become so vast and open that it allows for truly innovative products to trickle in. And because they have relatively small inventories, and aren’t tied down to filling up stock in a hasty way, they have more flexibility to offer a more curated product. To whit: it’s not about feeding the beast, but satiating the appetite of a discerning clientele."

Now is the time for indie shops to shine the light on the indie brands they carry! Advertise to frames shoppers by showcasing small-​label offerings in social media! The new AudienceSCAN study found 27% of Glasses/​Sunglasses Shoppers took action after seeing ads on social networks in the past month.

What’s nice about the independent market, is that you can get better quality and relatively more unique frames because they’re made in a smaller batch mentality,” says Stirling Barrett, the founder of New Orleans-​based eyewear brand Krewe. “You’re also able to support truly localized regional businesses—when you buy Ray-​Ban, Oliver Peoples, or Prada, you’re really just supporting a conglomerate model.”

Accessory stores and the like also can reach Glasses/​Sunglasses Shoppers through email. The new AudienceSCAN survey showed 29.5% of frames shoppers took action after getting emailed ads/​newsletters.

"My favorite is Uptown & Downtown from our '80s Disco collection, which is what both Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender have been wearing," says Pared's Ed Baker. "We also have a strong focus on collaborations and partnerships, and are very well known for these in the fashion and influencer space."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.