Since 2014, Silhouette U.S. president and CEO Jan Cory has been spearheading the Austrian-based company’s mission to set the standard for rimless frame design. Cory began her career in fashion accessory retail buying, joining the optical community in 1999 at Bausch + Lomb, followed by leadership roles at Luxottica and Viva Group International. She is a member of the Accessories Council board and the Optical Women’s Association. Cory spoke to VCPN’s Michele Silver about Silhouette’s newest and edgiest brand, neubau, the age of customization and the market appeal of European manufacturing and design.
MICHELE SILVER: This year marked the launch of an expertly designed showroom in New York City. What did that represent for the company?
JAN CORY: We were thrilled to open our new gallery, bringing the emotion and experience of the Austrian headquarters to New York. The Silhouette Gallery’s purpose is to function as the U.S. venue for exclusive collection presentations, personal eyewear consultations, workshops and press events. The central location supports the Silhouette sales staff to better reach clients while providing a comprehensive portfolio of the three brands, Silhouette, adidas Sport eyewear and neubau eyewear [launched last month].
The gallery space has a frame consultation area and multiple meeting areas with modern furniture, back-lit eyewear presentations and elegant design elements that mirror Silhouette’s dynamism. Our architect Steve Clem has said, ‘The inspiration for the fluid-shaped space was the family of Silhouette eyewear products.’ With this unique showroom—Silhouette International sets higher benchmarks and will attract even more attention from the opinion leaders and customers.
SILVER: Now that Jan Rosenberg is the new CEO of Silhouette International, what will be some of his first objectives or overall strategies?
CORY: Silhouette will continue to emotionalize our brands at all touch points. I know he looks forward to driving our strong business forward, together with myself and Thomas [Windischbauer, COO and CFO].
Silver: What inspired the company to produce the neubau collection and how does it complement Silhouette’s existing product?
CORY: The neubau eyewear brand marks the perfect addition to our company portfolio and will enable us to capture the enthusiasm of a new audience. Inspired by the cool artistic aesthetic of Vienna’s seventh district, these high-quality, Austrian-made spectacles are perfectly suited to the requirements of modern customers who crave heritage and experience along with an innovative design sensibility. In fact, Daniel Liktor, who is responsible for the brand, summed it up well when he said, ‘In an authentically appealing way, neubau eyewear reflects the recent zeitgeist of eyewear fashion. It is inspired by young, creative and contemporary Vienna and can be seen as an homage to all urban trendy areas as well as those who live and act in them.’
SILVER: What new initiatives did you launch at Vision Expo?
CORY: We launched our new Shop-in-Shop visual merchandising concept for Silhouette, the neubau brand and further expanded the distribution of our adidas Sport Rx Program. Neubau is inspired by the 7th district in Vienna, Austria, which is a very creative, artistic neighborhood that’s appealing to Millennials. Each model is named after an employee in the production department, which really shows the brand’s commitment to the people who actually make the product.
The adidas Sport Rx program allows ECPs to order a complete frame plus an Rx lens package through an online portal that’s very easy to use, and the turnaround time is five days with free shipping. Our partner in this program is Digital Eye Lab.
The Shop-in-Shop is a modular brand experience designed to help ECPs differentiate their practices with a wide range of Silhouette products. Available in two sizes, depending on the space and collection, this unique fixture offers spacious mirrors, sleek display cubes and campaign images to invite customers to interactively discover the world of Silhouette and experience the variety of models, styles and colors.
SILVER: What sets Silhouette apart in the market?
CORY: Silhouette is the market leader in premium rimless product. We are the family-owned, Austrian-based manufacturer of the world’s lightest glasses made with great attention to detail, a large proportion of work by hand, an individual design approach and the use of the best materials and the latest technology. We control every step of the design, production and distribution processes. Quite simply, there is no one else like us.
SILVER: What trends have you witnessed within the rimless category?
CORY: The biggest trend is toward customization, allowing a broader range of consumers to experience wearing rimless. Silhouette offers endless possibilities for one-of-kind frames. The lens shape, color and design are all personally selected, making for a wholly unique pair of glasses that are perfectly tailored to every face.
SILVER: What’s occurring in sports eyewear and how is adidas meeting the needs of that category?
CORY: Customization is key here, too, as we address the functional needs of the true athlete. Our new adidas Sport Rx program allows the widest range of prescriptions to be served with the pairing of a broad selection of innovative sport-designed frames and the latest lens technology. We have hundreds of possibilities ready to be delivered to the ECP, with prescription, within five days.
SILVER: What is the company’s mission statement and what has your experience been fulfilling it?
CORY: Our global mission is to be ‘the benchmark in premium eyewear.’ We live this mission, every day. It guides every decision we make about every action we take.
SILVER: What are the three factors that you want ECPs to know about Silhouette?
CORY: One, we are independently owned and operated and have been a family business since 1964. Two, we have our own Austria-based factory, so we design, manufacture and distribute from the heart of Europe. Third, our U.S. team is here for you, ready to listen to your specific needs and to help you grow profitably!
SILVER: What is the best customer feedback the company has been given and how have you applied that to new business strategies?
CORY: We get a lot of customer and consumer feedback. Our consumers are very loyal, often buying only Silhouette and owning multiple pairs. We are honored by this loyalty and consider this to be our daily reason to fulfill our mission.