NEW YORK — As the euro continues to overpower the dollar, luxury eyewear brands have found ways to cope.
Some are raising prices and others are eating costs, but no one is shifting production out of Europe. Eyewear represents an enormous amount of business in Italy, where industry powerhouses Marcolin, Safilo, Luxottica and Marchon produce their goods.
In 2004, Italy exported $513 million in eyewear to the U.S., an 11 percent increase over 2003, according to Roberto Luongo, executive director of the U.S. for the Italian Trade Commission. Luongo said the Italian eyewear makers in the luxury sector are working to reduce the negative impact of the euro’s strength against the dollar.
In order to increase brand awareness of Italian-made eyewear, the ITC held its second annual eyewear fashion show here during the Vision Expo East show last month. Forty-eight companies, including Safilo, Marcolin, Luxottica, Allison and Riviera, took part in the show at Gotham Hall, which exhibited 110 frames divided by the season’s top trends.
For Japanese company Charmant, which produces brands such as Christian Roth and Hugo Boss in Italy, it’s about keeping the prices stable for the consumer.
“Basically, we are absorbing costs,” said Dee Berghuys, director of product development. “There’s not much you can do.”
But Berghuys believes the luxury eyewear business will continue to do well, as consumer interest remains high.
“When you look back on certain figures, like Jackie O or movies like ‘The Matrix’ or Tom Cruise in ‘Risky Business,’ there’s a certain image to [sunglasses], which people are still interested in [achieving],” Berghuys said.
Cliff Robinson, vice president of American firm Legacie, which makes licensed lines of Judith Leiber, Kata and Cynthia Rowley eyewear, said production has remained in Italy and the company has made sacrifices when it comes to margins.
“The last year has been a problem,” said Robinson. “When the euro gets to $1.05, you are concerned; when it gets to $1.10, you get worried, and when it gets to $1.15, you become obsessed.”
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