Staying power is crucial for competing in a saturated market – and for Sunglass Hut, which reached its 50th anniversary milestone this year, longevity proves the case that sunglasses wield an undying power and influence in fashion that keeps customers coming back.
Here, Giorgio Pradi, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Sunglass Hut North America, talks to Fairchild Studio about its milestone anniversary, exclusive product launches and what’s coming up for the holiday season and beyond.
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Fairchild Studio: Sunglass Hut is celebrating its milestone 50th Anniversary. How has the brand evolved throughout the decades?
Giorgio Pradi: In 1971, our first Sunglass Hut was just a small kiosk in a Miami Mall, but that family business evolved and expanded into a global lifestyle company with over 3,000 stores worldwide. Our rapid growth is a combination of our wide premium product selection, great customer service, and a robust omnichannel experience.
Sunglass Hut offers an unparalleled selection of designer sunglasses, product exclusives and one-of-a-kind collaborations. These collections are brought to life in our stores, leveraging our advanced technology like Smart Shopper. This self-shopping digital screen is set in the wall of the stores allowing for endless aisle consumer browsing, discovery, and purchase. By combining a meaningful physical experience with virtual shopping, this provides consumers with more options.
Over the past 50 years, Sunglass Hut has adapted to evolving trends and customer needs. We attribute a great deal of our success to our store associates, Sunglass Hut’s most valuable asset. They are our first impression, our most authentic influencers and loyal brand ambassadors. Our customers come back because our associates are highly trained and knowledgeable about our brands and products. They are also passionate and energetic, a true reflection of Sunglass Hut.
Fairchild Studio: How did Sunglass Hut celebrate its milestone?
G.P.: To honor both the past and the future, we launched a special 50th anniversary summer campaign called “Don’t Stop The Feeling.” Sunglass Hut celebrated the start of summer with a TV commercial highlighting our limited-edition products to the tune of an original soundtrack.
We kept the spirit alive and sunny through our slate of personalized influencer mailers, a social media dance challenge, and roller-skating pop-ups in New York City and Los Angeles. Additionally, we brought the party back to our roots, with the Mayor of Miami Beach proclaiming August 13th “Sunglass Hut Day.”
Fairchild Studio: What are some of the exclusive products Sunglass Hut launched this year?
G.P.: Sunglass Hut rolled out a collection of six exclusive 50th anniversary frames from a variety of beloved brands, including Versace, Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Prada. Each frame was designed to reflect the style and essence of a specific decade, providing everyone a perfect option to express their style. Many of these exclusives showcased the Sunglass Hut 50th logo on the inside temple, while orange colorways matched the anniversary campaign.
Fairchild Studio: What can we expect to see from Sunglass Hut during the holiday season?
G.P.: Sunglass Hut is ready to guide customers through our curated collections to find the perfect gift. Whether it’s for friends or family or a self-treat, we offer gifts to love and use year-round.
We are excited to debut our eight Sunglass Hut holiday exclusive sunglasses that range from iconic to trendy to sporty. Customers looking for a gift for the person who has everything, can find it in one of our stores or at Sunglasshut.com. Our digital experience is full of unique products and experiences including the new Ray-Ban Stories, the first generation of smart glasses that people will truly love wearing, and the ability to customize a pair of frames through Smart Shopper.
Fairchild Studio: And the next 50 years?
G.P.: While our brand has lived half a century, we are still very much at the beginning of our journey. What keeps us in a leadership spot isn’t only adapting to the times, it is our ability to anticipate consumers’ desires. We constantly surprise and delight them when they discover that perfect pair of frames in store or online. That kind of magic can only be brought to life when our teams feel connected and empowered.
In addition to staying ahead through product innovation and incredible customer experiences, the future for us will also be about investing in our people. From reinforcing a culture of inclusion to training and development that advances associates personally and professionally. We intend to be a place where top talent comes to grow. Passionate and engaged associates will continue to bring the sun to customers anywhere, any time.
SUNGLASS HUT THROUGH THE YEARS
AT A GLANCE
Founded in 1971 as a small kiosk in a Miami mall, Sunglass Hut has grown into the best curated destination for the most sought-after high-quality fashion and performance sunglass brands. With more than 3,000 retail locations, stores can be found in fashionable shopping districts across the globe. From the Americas, Europe and the Middle East to Australia, South Africa, China and Southeast Asia and beyond, Sunglass Hut provides consumers with a fun, highly engaging shopping experience in-store and online at sunglasshut.com.
The first Sunglass Hut store opened in Miami, when optometrist Doctor Sanford Ziff set up a freestanding kiosk in Miami’s Dadeland Mall.
The success was immediate and by 1986 Sunglass Hut had opened approximately 100 Sunglass Hut stores. Ziff sold a 75% stake to investment firm Kidd, Kamm & Co. Following the partial acquisition, the business was incorporated under the name Sunglass Hut International, Inc.
Richard Cadan Photography
The company’s annual sales surpassed $100 million, and the Ziff family sold the portion of Sunglass Hut that remained in their control. In 1993, Sunglass Hut International, Inc. became a public company. In 1998, Sunglass Hut added e-commerce capabilities to its US website, sunglasshut.com.
In February 2000, Luxottica Group acquired Sunglass Hut which had reached 1,300 locations. The brand then expanded on a global scale from Southern America, Europe and Middle East to South Africa, China and SEA. Starting in 2009, Sunglass Hut entered into a series of partnerships with department stores including Macy’s, Bass Pro, Cabela’s and Galerie Lafayette in Europe.
The first US Flagship store is opened on Fifth Avenue in New York which was later renovated to showcase the new global store design. Returning to its roots in 2012, Sunglass Hut opened the brand’s largest Flagship store on Lincoln Road in Miami, Florida. In 2019, Sunglass Hut made a significant investment in technology by launching customizable products and the first in-store digital shopping tools to enrich the global omnichannel experience.
Sunglass Hut turned 50! We are excited for what the next 50 years has in store.
Noteworthy Brand Moments
■ From 2012 – 2018, famous model Georgia May Jagger acted as Sunglass Hut’s Global Brand Ambassador.
■ In 2015, Sunglass Hut acted as the principal sponsor of both London Fashion Week and Weekend.
■ “It Only Happens At Sunglass Hut” summer TV campaign launches with top model Gigi Hadid in 2019.
■ Over the last few years, Sunglass Hut has collaborated with some of the world’s best brands and talent on exclusive sunglass collections. From fashion brands like Off-White to Disney, to Alexa Chung, Sarah Jessica Parker and most recently Chiara Ferragni.