Vuarnet is setting up shop with its first store in the U.S.
The French brand, known for its bold cat-eye inspired shapes and mineral lenses and named after the late Olympic gold medal winning French downhill skier Jean Vuarnet, has aggressively expanded its reach since its relaunch in 2015 and is now carried in more than 600 doors in the U.S. market, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. The U.S. boutique marks a second freestanding brick-and-mortar location; the other one is in Paris.
“We have experienced three years of rapid growth in the U.S. market in both specialty stores and premium optical boutiques. With this strong foundation and a growing brand awareness in the States, we decided the time was right for the opening of our U.S. flagship in New York,” said Lionel Giraud, chief executive officer of Vuarnet.
The 1,000-square-foot flagship, designed by Paris-based Utopik Design, has floor-to-ceiling windows, a mix of wood and stone and an oversized, neon Vuarnet logo — a nod to the brand’s Eighties cult status. The goal was to offer an immersive brand experience taking customers through the brand’s history, including key products from its legacy such as The Dude, worn by Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski,” and The Glacier worn by Daniel Craig as James Bond.
“The two stores [Paris and New York] are completely different in both design and assortment. The Paris store is dedicated to eyewear whereas in the New York shop we will offer the complete Vuarnet lifestyle experience which includes eyewear, apparel and accessories,” noted Giraud, also pointing to categories in the U.S. such as accessories and seasonal apparel such as beachwear and ski apparel.
The North American flagship officially opens its doors in New York’s NoLIta neighborhood on July 14, timed with Bastille Day in France. Giraud noted the day was chosen as “it is always a day of great celebration in France and we wanted to share that passion and enthusiasm Stateside.”
Opening weekend guests will have first access to exclusives, giveaways and artist collaborations including limited-edition pairs of Vaurnet’s Glacier style sunglasses. The U.S.-only limited edition version is designed in partnership with Vashtie Kola, who will also be performing at a private in-store event, and features a matte black frame accented with red leather side shields embossed with Vashtie’s name.
Vuarnet eyewear retails from $215 to $640.