The Swiss Eyewear Group has incorporated recent advances in liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology into a new mirror for the optician's sales floor that should attract many customers. Its so-called “Magic Mirror” simulates better than before the experience of wearing its Invu sunglasses with ultra-polarized lenses. It will be one of the novelties presented by the company on the stand of its French distributor, ADCL, at the Silmo Paris show starting tomorrow.

Developed exclusively for Invu by a Dutch engineer, the new tool will allow the wearers to see a movie in the mirror through Invu's sunglasses. A similar display introduced two years ago only permitted a clearer vision of a blurry image. Jerry Dreifuss, the Swiss Eyewear Group's chief executive, calls it “the new silent salesman” for the “impulse segment” of the sunglass market. This is the company's main target for its flexible and unbreakable products, which generally retail for only between €50 and €80 per pair.

One exception is a small new range of sunglasses made with polarized glass lenses instead of plastic coming from Japan. Shown at Silmo, it will carry recommended retail prices of €120 to €140. The company is also testing in Switzerland the possible release of RX polarized sunglasses, using a Swiss laboratory. In Switzerland, it is launching an online shop offering 30,000 options for customization of Invu sunglasses made inside the country at prices below €150 a pair.

The Swiss Eyewear Group has come a long way since Dreifuss, a former marketing director of Polaroid Eyewear, founded it six years ago along with some of his colleagues at that company after its acquisition by Stylemark and then Safilo (see EWI Vol. 14 N° 13+14 of Nov. 5, 2013). One of those colleagues at Polaroid Eyewear, Chris Knight, is no longer with the Swiss Eyewear Group. One of the shareholders that we had not named before is Emerito Scotti, who is running the Italian subsidiary of the Zurich-based company.

Declining to quote specific sales figures, Dreifuss says that it is now selling “several millions of pairs” of sunglasses annually through more than 20,000 stores in over 95 countries around the world. The main markets are France, the U.S., Russia and the Benelux countries. The company has been enjoying double-digit growth in sales and profits for the past few years. It is growing very fast in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but it is having a harder time in the “difficult” Chinese market. The company is working mainly through distributors.

Invu is a name that can be read as “in view” as well as “I envy you.”

Besides its Invu branded sunglasses, which are made for the most part in the Far East, the Swiss Eyewear Group also supplies similar products and some readers with blue light filters to major retail chains on a private label basis. The company has dropped an initial project to seek licensing agreements, preferring to focus on the Invu brand, but it is the distributor in Switzerland of the Rip Curl line, licensed by ADCL.