Silhouette International, the Austrian eyeglass maker, is aiming to nudge its way into the beauty world by positioning its rimless glasses as an accessory for makeup lovers.
Arnold Schmied, the eldest son of the company’s founders, Anneliese and Arnold, explained that big, oversized frames are “so yesterday” and that his company’s rimless designs stand to be the trend of the future. Schmied, who oversees the family’s 48-year-old, privately held firm, said the rimless look enables users to really showcase their eye makeup and well-groomed brows.
During a recent trip to Manhattan — the company’s U.S. headquarters are based in Albany, N.Y., where Schmied resides and runs American subsidiary Silhouette Optical Ltd. with his younger brother, Klaus, — Schmied explained that a business decision made last year led the company to move completely to rimless eyewear. The design, known as the Titan Minimal Art, was started 10 years ago by Silhouette, he said, and has attracted the likes of international celebrities, such as Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, and has even penetrated NASA by traveling in space over 20 times with NASA astronauts.
In a twist of public relations fate, rimless glasses have been spotlighted in recent months as they are the chosen eyewear of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. While Palin does not wear Silhouette glasses (according to several news reports she wears Kazuo Kawasaki frames), the company is eager to outfit Alaska’s governor with a special pair. “With Ms. Palin’s rigorous campaign schedule, career demands and growing family, [a pair of] beautifully styled, custom-tailored Silhouettes with limitless vision and perfect comfort would be a perfect pairing,” said Diana Marino, Silhouette’s brand manager.
In addition to the free p.r. boost Silhouette is gaining from Palin’s choice of glasses style, makeup artist Mary Greenwell attended the brand’s recent beauty press event to help promote Silhouette as a beauty junkie’s best friend. There she discussed how rimless glasses “accentuate makeup” since there is no obstacle blocking lids or brows.
To make selecting a pair of glasses easy, there are three different collections within Silhouette, referred to as Silhouette Lifestyle Worlds. There’s Essential, which showcases timeless, minimalist designs. Then there’s Extravagant, which features bold interplays of colors and materials. And, the Luxury collection aims to be elegant, with eyewear made specifically for special occasions. A renovated display system complete with a brand look book is expected to hit the market in January to help promote Silhouette in stores.
Silhouette offers both ophthalmologic glasses and sunglasses; the ophthalmologic range wholesales from $104.95 to $145.95. In addition to the Silhouette brand, the company also produces and markets worldwide models of the licensed brands Daniel Swarovski crystal eyewear and Adidas eyewear. Silhouette eyewear is sold in more than 100 countries. The company generates U.S. sales of about $100 million to $125 million, according to industry sources.
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