Fabris Lane, the biggest British specialist in medium-priced sunglasses, is making a big step into premium prescription frames through a five-year agreement with Oliver Goldsmith. Together, they have developed a first line of spectacles, called Photograph, inspired by an old family photo album put together by his grandfather, the late Oliver Goldsmith, who founded the family business in 1926.
The initial collection of eight styles, in four sophisticated colors, is going to be made entirely in Italy, using Mazzucchelli acetate. The glasses will be priced at retail between £220 (€302-$339) and £250 (€343m-$385), positioning the Oliver Goldsmith optical line higher than a previous collection licensed to another British company, Pennine Optical, which was made in Italy and China. Oliver Goldsmith, the 72-year-old entrepreneur who owns the brand rights for optical frames, did not agree with Pennine on future strategies.
The new line will not be presented at Mido, where neither Fabris Lane nor Oliver Goldsmith will have a stand, but Fabris Lane has started to show some prototypes to potential clients and distributors. The collection will have its first launch at Vision Expo East in New York next month, where it will be presented by Fabris Lane's North American distributor, Prism. Fabris Lane plans a bigger international launch at the Silmo fair in Paris next September.
Fabris Lane will have no rights for Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses, which rest with another member of the family, Claire Goldsmith. As we have previously reported (EWI, issue n° 15-15+16 of Sept. 25, 2014), she has a partnership with Ørgreen Optics, a fast-growing Danish producer of high-end designer eyewear.
The optical collection developed and sold by Fabris Lane is distinct from the Oliver Goldsmith collection of metal frames licensed to Mari-Vision in Japan, which will continue to be offered worldwide. Fabris Lane will use Mari-Vision as the Japanese distributor of its own Oliver Goldsmith line.
Rod Lane, who set up his company with Mario Fabris in 1982 after they both worked for Mazzucchelli, met Oliver Goldsmith at Silmo two years ago. They signed an agreement last August but have kept quiet about their partnership until now.
For Fabris Lane, the Oliver Goldsmith optical line will serve as the flagship of a broader offer of new licensed collections, partly intended to regain a place in the independent optical retail market. Preferring to work with the chains on affordable sunglasses, the company had neglected this segment after losing the distribution of the Versace and Versus eyewear collections in the U.K. about ten years ago.
Besides Oliver Goldsmith's optical collection, Fabris Lane is launching this year four other brands of licensed prescription frames and sunglasses after 18 months of preparation. One of them is Animal, the action sports brand, for which it has regained the global license. It is also launching in May its first eyewear collection licensed by Kurt Geiger, a major British premium shoe retailer, along with a younger Miss KG line.
The fifth license is with Hook London, a company that manages music artists and organizes music festivals. The line, which addresses younger people with more accessible price points, has already started to be available through the hookldn.com website.
All the five collections are aimed at independent opticians and their distributors in various countries, with a focus on Western Europe. The optical styles target different customers and carry different price points - around £160 (€220-$247) for Kurt Geiger, £90 (€124-$139) for Miss KG, £130 (€179-$200) for Animal and £85 for Hook London. They have been developed by a team at Fabris Lane that has been expanded from five to seven designers.
Other contracts are under discussion, and some of them may be finalized before the next Silmo. Fabris Lane continues to develop and sell other lines under names such as French Connection and Karen Millen.