Online, high-end eyeglasses seller David Kind is opening showroom space at its headquarters in a move several e-tailers are making to solidify their brands in the real world.
The space, by appointment only, is located on the ground floor of the company’s Venice, Calif., headquarters and opens Monday.
David Kind launched in January 2014 and has four employees, two of which are optometrists.
David Kind sells 18 styles — each priced at $295 — all of which are designed in Los Angeles and then made in either Italy or Japan. Customers are sent, free of charge, up to six pairs of eyeglasses to test out at home.
The showroom could help the company grow its international base, which is a sliver of overall revenue — less than 1 percent — and mostly coming from Canada. For those international customers visiting in the area for long enough, stopping in at the showroom makes sense, founder and chief executive officer Dave Barton said.
“Virtual try-ons just don’t cut it. People want to touch and feel. Frames are like jewelry,” he said.
Barton is an eyewear industry veteran, having most recently served as president of eyewear development and design company Bartolomasi. He’s also a former Oliver Peoples senior line director and Spy Optic director of product development.
The showroom or brick-and-mortar is “another touch point for customers,” Barton said, and it’s increasingly becoming the norm for online retailers.
Los Angeles-based Nasty Gal last week opened its second store, a 6,500-square-foot shop in Santa Monica. Suitmaker Combatant Gentlemen recently opened the doors to showroom space at its newly expanded headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Los Angels-based women’s pants e-tailer Aella is shopping for new headquarters space this year, which will also house a customer showroom. And Weddington Way in San Francisco is also building out space at its headquarters for customers to try on dresses.
Brick-and-mortar is important, but the moves to the real world have to be strategic, pointed out Lyon + Post founder Lawrence Wisne. His online women’s store recently launched and could potentially get into brick-and-mortar in the longer term.
“If we were to do it, it would really add on to the Lyon + Post experience,” Wisne told WWD earlier this month. “We wouldn’t just open a store. There’s people playing with various things. The one that is a really good inspiration is Apple. At Apple you can buy computers at their stores, but their stores aren’t about buying computers. You want to hang out there. There’s classes. There’s all these things that you can do that’s not about buying computers; it’s about promoting the brand experience.”