Bobbi Brown Talks Eyewear, Safilo Partnership

The deal marks the first time a major figure in the beauty industry has launched an eyewear collection.

View Slideshow

Bobbi Brown’s entrepreneurial spirit is kicking into high gear.

This story first appeared in the February 13, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The makeup artist, who serves as founder and creative officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, inked an eyewear deal with Safilo Group, marking the first time a major figure in the beauty industry has launched an eyewear collection.

Although the deal is with Brown, the individual, and not with the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., the owner of Brown’s namesake firm, the partnership signifies a broadening of the lifestyle brand.

“Anything I do outside of the company, I naturally get the support of Estée Lauder. They know I wouldn’t do anything if it didn’t better the brand,” Brown told WWD, explaining that the jump into eyewear was a “natural extension” from beauty.

“Over the years, people have asked me to design jeans or shoes. That didn’t make sense for me. This made sense for me,” she said. “Being a beauty expert and makeup artist, I’ve always been aware of how glasses can transform a face. I want to take the mystery out of how to choose the right glasses for your face.”

The idea of transformation via beauty or eyewear carries the same empowering message to women. For this optical and sunglass collection, Brown is hoping to take her inspirational message to men as well.

The premium eyewear line is unisex, which is another first for Brown, who relishes the opportunity to reach a broader audience.

“This is a way for me to prove I can have success in something else,” she offered.

Although the glasses can be worn by men, the focus is really on women, according to Safilo’s chief executive officer, Roberto Vedovotto, who noted that each collection will be inspired by Brown’s seasonal makeup offering.

In essence the color of the frames will mirror Brown’s beauty color palette for the season.

“We wanted to bring a new approach to eyewear for women,” Vedovotto said, explaining that Brown’s line will complement a customer’s eye color, as well as her face shape and makeup choice. The collection will range from $130 to $180 for sunglasses and from $160 to $200 for optical. Sunglasses will hit stores in January and optical will be available in spring 2014, the ceo said.

The collection will be available first in the U.S. and then worldwide in Bobbi Brown doors, optical chains and department stores.

“We are always interested in finding important brands,” the Safilo executive said. “Bobbi is very good at what she does and very successful.”

Although both Safilo and Brown are still in the early stages of product development, expect a classic yet fashionable product, said Maureen Case, president of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Jo Malone London.

According to Case, a Brown eyewear line will likely take cues from the brand’s Tortoise eye shadow campaign, as well as the makeup artist’s own personal eyewear collection.

Known for her penchant for dark-rimmed, preppy optical looks, Brown launched a set of eye shadows in 2011 inspired by a vintage pair of tortoiseshell frames. The makeup, dubbed the Tortoise collection, was featured in an advertising campaign that included a model who sported a smart pair of optical frames. That experience planted a seed in Brown to create eyewear.

“I saw it materialize in front of me,” Case said, who explained that she’s watched her friend’s brand grow into a lifestyle concept. “I told her now is a really great time not to take your eye off the ball.”

Case said Brown’s gift, to “help guide women” find their “most flattering look,” is a talent she’ll be able to bring to the eyewear space. Just as with her makeup line, Brown will include manuals that help consumers find the best frames.

According to Estée Lauder group president John Demsey, this product extension likely won’t be the last for Brown, who is passionate about wellness and health as well.

“This is really the first time we’ve done something like this with one of our brands,” Demsey said, explaining the “unique” nature of the deal with Brown.

Calling the partnership a “win-win” for all parties, Demsey noted that should Brown depart Lauder, she would still have a stake in the eyewear business.

“Bobbi has for a long time wanted to expand her brand into a lifestyle concept. This is a great opportunity for her to test the waters to see how great her bandwidth is,” he offered. “It’s in concert with Bobbi as an entrepreneur and a businesswoman.”

View Slideshow