A Look Into The Luxurious Eyewear Industry
We sat down with Rosario Disalvo from Luxury Eyewear Brands (LEB) to discuss the eyewear industry and how it has evolved since pre-pandemic. As fashion changes so does the business model for business owners and their strategies on how to expand their business.
These were a few key questions into getting an insight on how the luxury eyewear business operates today and how he envisions future years to come.
Q: What is LEB and what did you do before LEB?
The development of LEB started with a few small businesses such as Specs New York, Specs Rx, Rivka opticians and Vision Unlimited.
LEB is an abbreviation for Luxury Eyewear Brands. I don’t think LEB is just a Sunglass/Optical store because it’s not. It has a whole network of opticians, optometrists, sales specialists, GPOs (Group Purchasing Organizations) and more. When I founded LEB I never imagined it being what it is today, an entire network of professionals working together like a corporate group trying to control and cover every aspect of an industry.
6 years before I entered the eyewear industry, I was heavily involved with the clothing industry. I started as a stock boy for a small company and worked my way up to Director or Operations. I had the pleasure of working as a Manager, Merchandiser, Sales Associate, Director of Operations and District Manager for them and other major clothing companies in a span of 8 years. While working for these companies I learned everything I needed to know to start my own business.
Q: How did you get into the eyewear business?
I was first introduced to the Sunglass business by a girl named Karen C. She was working as a Manager for Y-Sunglasses. She is the reason why I got interested in eyewear. Y-Sunglasses was renting a small space within each location where I managed. Unfortunately after 4 short years, Y-Sunglasses became a business failure due to poor business decisions by its owner. The company saw how profitable Y-Sunglasses was in the beginning and they decided to branch out and create their own sunglass company. Specs New York was founded early 2014 by Rami M.and it was a success! Within 18 months it expanded to 8 locations in 3 states.
It became so successful that we became the new hot spot in nyc. We’ve made it in multiple magazine stories which drew the attention of multiple reality tv shows like Love & Hip Hop, impractical Jokers and many celebrities such as Selena Gomez, David Beckham, Nelly, Cardi B and more.
Sadly due to bad business dealing and partnership fall out, Specs New York began to lose a lot of revenue, and because of that Rami decided to sell the company. I was trusted by Rami to break a sales deal between him and Rivka Opticians. I saw a risky but great opportunity and my natural instinct kicked in. I ended up working out a deal with Rivka Opticians. I can’t mention any details of our deal but I can mention that we operated Specs and Rivka as two separate businesses under one roof. I brokered the deal and cut my employment from all company’s and claimed specs with Rivka Opticians.
Q: Where do you see the market going and how has it changed since you started?
To me, eyewear goes way beyond anything. It’s the most incredible accessory to have today. The shape of a frame or the color of lens can change your whole appearance. The sunglasses and optical business pre-Covid was booming, it was the business to be in. The industry took a huge hit due to Covid and it seems to be having a problem recovering.
Q: What would you say has attracted the strongest customer base?
At first it would have been our store. You can’t miss it. It’s huge, 2650 square foot to be exact in downtown NY. We carry 60+ brands and we always have the whole new collection on display on the release date. We also have an optometrist and opticians, all under one roof. We simply had it all.
Q: Which brands have been doing best in sales and why do you think so?
I would have to say Gucci, Saint Laurent or just about any brand which is manufactured and managed by Kering Eyewear.
Kering Eyewear was founded in 2014 by Roberto Vedovotto who is still CEO of kering Eyewear today.Kering Eyewear designs, developed, and distributed Gucci, Cartier, YSL, Chloe, Brioni, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Mont Blanc and other Luxury brands. Kering Eyewear helped me with my business like no other company has ever had. Trust me they offer something much greater than their luxury brands, They offer incredible customer service, extended billing and support to not just my business but all small businesses and every individual customer. They truly back their product! It’s the reason why I am still in business today post Covid.
Q: Do you plan on expanding and if so how?
I’m not planning to expand anytime soon. Not until the market recovers. In the meantime I am looking to expand my skill level, I am now experiencing the medical side of sunglasses and optical frames. I have recently become a lab technician and soon an optician.
Q: Where do you see your company in 3 years?
Expanding, internationally. As sales begin to generate again, going overseas is the next move.
Q: Any big projects coming up in the near future you want the audience to know about?
Yes, recently a popular Italian eyewear brand has reached out and wants to do a collaboration. For the past 3 months we have been designing our 2023 summer collection together and let me tell you, it’s astonishing.
It would be my first time doing a collaboration and designing eyewear. I am working with multiple designers and creative directors. I’m excited and hopefully it becomes successful. Maybe one day I’ll start my own collection.