Mariavittoria Vanoni and Sergio Brovelli, respectively an insider from the jewel and antique furniture world, and an expert from the optical and lenses market, have recently opened two outstanding optical stores in Milan. The one taking its name from the street, based in via Ettore Ponti 58, opened in January 2015, and a second one was inaugurated in Via Crema 6 in June 2016. Both stores reflect the expertise of each of the partners involved, offering unique design and handcrafted pieces, as well as more affordable products, though always based on innovative ideas, colorfulness and material mixes. Their stores and product offer pour together a cool mix of products originating from a global research in different fields and markets, and top expertise in the eyewear field. And, not less important, a third 58EttorePonti store might also open in London in the next years.
What are the current bestsellers of your store and why?
Our store only sells a selection of top quality research eyewear brands, none of whose is produced by the giant groups ruling this market. Our own brand Van&Bro is most successful as it is appealing to a wide clientele and well expresses our own philosophy based on fast-forward minded design and creativity, research in detailing, craftsmanship and top made in Italy quality.
Also successful is the French brand Sabine Be, research brand characterized by colorful, eccentric but never loud frames that brighten anyone’s face thanks to our skillful ability in mixing and matching celluloid panels. Essential and meticulous design is the aspect that most identifies Charles Mosa by Vincent Kaes glasses, also highly appreciated for their clean, smart but also trendy image.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They are guided by a mix of all these aspects, though, most especially, they are first attracted by an impulse, then also by more rational and experience-based elements.
Attraction first comes from product beauty. This is what recalls our client and invites him or her to enter our store and show their interest in something different, niche-based and, despite an eyewear model is classic the consumer always perceives some out of the ordinary trait of it. The experience aspect is rather conveyed by a mix of elements: environment, context of the boutique, visual merchandising, communication and a relationship that we can build with the consumer. Upon those pillars that found our philosophy we establish a solid relationship with customers and push them into buying our products while building a consciousness they can live a whole and highly satisfying experience when entering our stores.
Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We travel a lot both for personal passion and for work. And, not less important, we are always involved in cool hunting in every moment. We also always like to dialogue with our clients who reveal us their tastes and needs. We can learn from them immensely as they are a never ending source of information to us.
At the same time we always discover new trends from environments and cultures that are not directly connected to our market. It also helps us discovering always new and different proposals. Research makes us visit both specialized shows (Mido, Silmo, 100% Optical London), and more general trade shows (like White Milano, and others), but also all over the world, and live relationships with personalities of the fashion and art worlds. Inspiration is not only coming to us from tangible elements but also through relationships we establish with people living in the places who guide us when we visit their countries or cities. All that makes us see things differently and enriches us. We actually like a quote by Proust that well expresses our attitude: “The only true trip toward discovery is not about finding new landscapes, but looking at things with new eyes.”
How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
It is fundamental to us and it happens day by day in our boutiques where we like to welcome our clients as if we met them in our living room. We like to do it in a curated though at the same time spontaneous way. Though we also act through multichannel activities such as, for instance, social networks and events – both in store and outside our stores. We often organize small trunk shows aimed at presenting our last novelties to our customers. Our shop windows - we design with great creativity and passion - are another element that recalls curiosity and communicates the essence of what we are and sell.
How do the collections you offer for next s/s look like? And what are the most important trends, in general?
We know that fashion is not inventing anything, but it often reinterprets and redesigns what is already around for long. For this we offer soft and sinuous lines - always an evergreen -, mixed with geometric, more classic and rigorous ones. This is the year of flat lenses finished with laser techniques, small-diameter lenses, but also oversize ones that have been trendy since the 1950s and are still highly requested.
There is also a great return to lightness. For this we offer some new alloys of precious metals such as, for instance, titanium and aluminum that, once they are added to lightweight celluloid, give glasses a less classic and stronger look. Summing up: everyone can find the model that can fit their image best!
Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
We are always looking for new brands and products and also keep in mind what positioning specific products will have within the whole offer of our stores. In fact we offer a wide selection of frames at different prices - from €120 to €1000 up to €1500 for most expensive sunglasses completed by golden chains or precious stone elements -, but also from €95 to €370 for prescription frames.
We would like to also include some iconic and luxury sports eyewear brands for men considering that women remain the ones who decide what they buy for themselves and what men have to buy.
Despite this, the trend is changing and men are no longer happy to wear normal glasses models anymore. They have also started considering glasses as a more researched accessory that can better complete their image.
How does your store differ from other stores?
Our boutiques don’t want to be perceived as traditional opticians, but as places for meeting customers and making them live experiences. Here we tell stories about our creations and products. This way our stores become places that explain what our “savoir faire” and “savoir etre” is about, as everything here originates from our extremely friendly client-oriented approach. We have tried to recreate environments that could differentiate themselves from competitive contexts by rather focusing on concept boutiques that can create a true “Wow Effect”.
Since the first moment our customers get in touch with us we want to astonish them with our creativity, care for detail and an offer of always avant-garde products that can be considered special for their design and material mixes.
What do you like about your customers?
We like their curiosity that pushes them into asking, going deeper and trying to understand more. We also like the high expectations they have of us because they make us live our work as a constant challenge. We like their support and great appreciation for what we do daily. We also like their faithfulness and trust they always demonstrate us by inviting friends and connections visiting our stores. They appreciate us as professionals, both as technical image consultants – plus the recognition we receive from their wide age range.
And...let’s not forget their criticism: They are always appreciated if they’re constructive!
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
Everything has to be in harmony and coherence with our philosophy and mission. When our customers come to our stores we want them to feel at home, feel positive sensations and warmth. This explains why our boutiques host research design pieces and furniture, various handcrafted objects by experts within an out-of-the-ordinary store layout. In our boutique in Via Crema, for instance, we took a net taken from a building site and used to decor the store’s walls and ceiling. All of our stores are characterized by a welcoming and researched ambience. Warm and lively colors, our kindness and professional support complete all that can convey a general atmosphere providing our customers a special and pleasing experience.
58 Ettore Ponti
Via Ettore Ponti, 58
+39 02 81 321 49
Via Crema 6
+39 02 8132149