Besides sponsoring many other sports events and numerous champions and teams in a wide range of sports, including cycling, running and skiing, Rudy Project is going to have special visibility as an official supplier of the New York Yacht Club American Magic, one of the U.S. challengers in the 36th America's Cup, which will start in April in Sardinia.
The boat's team decided to pick the Italian brand of sports eyewear after a test on the water by the boat's team. It will be equipped with a special edition of the company's Airgrip sunglasses, whose polarized lenses incorporate an HDR filter and feature a supposedly “revolutionary” hydrophobic coating. The team will also wear a special edition of Rudy Project's Spinhawk “active lifestyle” sunglasses.
In announcing the partnership, the company noted that the New York Yacht Club won the first edition of the boat race back in 1851, leading it to be called the America's Cup. In a similar way, Rudy Project got started after its racing sunglasses were worn by the winner of the Road Cycling World Championships in 1986, one year after the company was founded by Rudy Barbazza in Treviso.
Rudy Project claims to offer one of the widest ranges of solutions for sports eyewear, including different vision correction modes with RX clips, inserts and “optical docks.” On top of it, while continuing to focus on sports eyewear, covering many different sports, Rudy Project recently started to offer less performance-oriented lifestyle sunglasses for sports-minded customers, as well as readers and prescription frames.
Last year it introduced its first line of readers, inspired by its Rydon model of sports eyewear, followed by its first two models of prescription frames, shown at the Mido fair in Milan earlier this year. Borrowing some of the features of its sports glasses, they are rather technical, as their temple tips and nose pads can be adjusted for a perfect fit.
All the products offered by the Italian company are made in Italy at various laboratories and workshops. Its spring/summer 2019 collection of sports eyewear included models that, for the first time, combine plastic with graphene, a very tough, lightweight material that has started to be used also by some brands in sports clothing and sports shoes. The prices are 15 to 20 percent higher than those of normal sports glasses, but at around €250 per pair, they are still relatively accessible.
After 34 years in operation, Rudy Project has reached a stage where it has started to develop some vintage styles, such as revisited versions of the Defender and the Aggressor, which have been rather successful lately.
The company's annual sales have remained rather stable in the last couple of years at around €16 million, with about 15 percent of the turnover coming from helmets and other accessories. Run by Cristiano Barbazza, son of the company's founder, Rudy Project two years ago started an internal “r-evolution,” creating new divisions for product development and marketing and reorganizing sales functions as well as the supply chain. It also launched a new global website and became more active on social media, boasting more than 330,000 followers on Instagram. The marketing department is run by Cristiano's brother Simone.
Among other initiatives on the sales front, Rudy Project took over the distribution of its products in Germany and Austria a couple of years ago, followed by the French market, using agents and sales employees instead of wholesale distributors. Last May, it hired a new distributor for the Benelux countries, Technolyt, which will also cover the optical market. Its distributors in China and South Korea have been performing well.
In October a year ago, Rudy Project launched a new, engaging global website in Italian, English, German and French. Foreign distributors of the brand have since adopted the website to launch local versions in Polish, Slovenian, Czech, Finnish and Spanish. Those in the Philippines and South Africa are using the English version and accepting orders online from customers in their countries. E-commerce operations are also available in the local languages for Italy, France, Spain and Poland.