London challenges Milan

februari 22, 2013

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Last weekend I was in London where the Fashion Week took place before the fashion circus went to Milan earlier this week. Interesting to read how English newspapers compared London to Milan. I share their comments because I think it has some relation to what we see happening in the optical industry. According to the English press more as 5.000 people, press and buyers, visited London to see the shows. Much more as expected for Milan. Buyers and press consider London new, refreshing and more inspiring compared to Milan. The papers quoted Miuccia Prada who recently said in an Italian newspaper to be afraid of Italy losing its leading position in the fashion world. Of course we do recognize the English chauvinism in these comments but somehow they might be right. Italy leans heavily on a glorious past with lots of famous names but doesn’t surprise anymore. London and New York offer room to young designers with fresh approaches who today get more press attendance as the well-known names in Milan. The buyers follow. It is not difficult to see the relation with optics. We see more and more of the same from Italy which is no longer leading. Apparently the mass production doesn’t leave room for originality or innovations or the major companies simply suffer from a lack of creativity. Innovations come from Lindberg, Mykita or Rolf located respectively in Denmark, Berlin and Austria. The relatively small Italian newcomer Italia Independent shows the potential of Italy and leads the way there. It is no coincidence all these companies are very successful. The modern consumer who chooses to buy at an independent store expects something new and inspiring. Once, when they were introduced, the major fashion brand names helped the independent opticians to distinguish themselves but these days are long ago and over now. Many of these brands can now be found at the large chains or are easily copied. Right now, independent opticians more as ever need distinguishing products to be successful. They don’t need to come from small niche-players alone but if the major manufacturers want to play in role in independent stores they need to renew and innovate and make choices. Interesting to see whether they are still able to do that and how this will develop in the years ahead.

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