Hawkers debuts at Mido

The web phenomenon has decided to enter the optical market and has chosen the Milan fair for its debut. Retail penetration is the natural extension of a path that has led to online sales of new fewer than 8 million pairs of sunglasses. Obviously, different products will be offered for offline, which will be characterized also by the debut of an optical line. Head of brand production Alessandro Fedalto talked about this exclusively with WMIDO.

How did your brand begin?

The origins of the brand date back to 2013, when four young Spanish entrepreneurs operating in the city of Elche (near Alicante) in Spain – Iñaki Soriano, Pablo Sánchez, David Moreno and Alejandro Moreno – designed and developed an application for buying and selling on social media. But because they couldn’t find a sufficient number of users, they looked for a way to fund it. They therefore scraped together 300 euros which they used to buy 27 pairs of sunglasses from a Californian brand to sell on the Internet. These sold very quickly and with the proceeds they bought another 50 pairs, which they also sold. After selling no fewer than 150,000 pairs of the American brand’s eyeglasses over one summer season, in just a few months the four entrepreneurs became the official distributors in Europe. From that point on, the mobile application ceased to be a priority and all their efforts went into eyewear. Thanks to this experience, they decided to make some changes to improve the design and quality of the sunglasses they distributed. As they did not receive the manufacturer’s authorization to carry out the improvements they considered necessary, in the end they decided to create their own brand, which led to the birth of Hawkers on November 11, 2013. According to its founders, the brand was conceived with the intention of revolutionizing the sunglasses sector which was dominated by a small number of players. As a result, in less than five years, the brand had revolutionized the e-commerce world and the sunglasses sector with a distinct proposal to make: offer a quality product at the right price thereby changing the way this product had been offered to consumers for decades. It created intelligent buying and a new phenomenon associated with this product: “collecting”. In the meantime, Hawkers became one of the 10 most popular Spanish fashion brands at international level, and one of the top three sunglasses brands with the most sales on the Internet.  

What is current financial performance?

Since the birth of Hawkers, 8 million pairs of sunglasses have been sold, 3 million of which last year.

You have decided to enter the distribution channel in the optical sector. Why?

Our brand consolidated its online sales in just five years and has earned an excellent reputation on the market and among consumers. Penetration was very strong in Spain and in other countries where the use of sunglasses is significant, like Italy, Greece, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Australia. After this rapid success, it was necessary to take another step ahead and explore the retail universe: a business strategy and natural diffusion is mandatory for a company whose main challenge is understanding consumer behavior. Thanks to this experience, I am certain that we will further strengthen our message of proposing a premium product at the right price. Unlike the conventional retail model, where you lose the transaction with the customer, Hawkers’ DNA is purely digital born, so the projection of the company into the offline environment is inconceivable without the ability acquire sufficient data for following transactions with consumers. This will permit the offer of a global buying experience based on the complementary nature of all channels – on and off – that are connected within the same strategic plan. At the same time, we decided to enter that optical eyewear market together with an exclusive collection of sunglasses for the offline sector. This proposal can be offered directly to the distribution channel for optical stores, without the risk of overlapping the offer in competition with the collection for the online channel. Lastly, the optical sector is the natural channel for the most requested brands of frames and sunglasses on the market. Visibility that can generate the optical center channel to strengthen our brand is, objectively speaking, very high. Moreover, opticians are given the chance to offer in their stores a product and a brand that already have a defined public and consumers: an important consumer that, otherwise, opticians are barely able to tap into with the traditional brands on their shelves.  

Why did you decide to take part in MIDO?

Entering offline has been studied at length in recent years and because of this it needs to be adequately presented to its public through the optical sector’s distribution channel. That is why MIDO was taken into consideration right from the start as the ideal scenario for presenting the project; the new message by the brand is supported by its maturity and its capitalization of the offline channel by connecting it to its strategic base. MIDO is a historic fair for the global eyewear sector: there aren’t any operators who don’t know about it and have visited it at least once in their lifetime. Obviously, there are other international fairs, but to present a new project with revolutionary ambitions like Hawkers’, there can be no doubt that MIDO is the best option. After all, Italy has always been at the center of the sector’s most important phenomena: from the consolidation of large multinational companies and their prestigious brands, to the birth and development of independent optical brands.

What will your development strategy consist of for the sector?

Development in the online environment is constantly evolving and this is why Hawkers was a phenomenon of success. Our strategy in the optical wholesale channel consists of sharing a new experience with opticians, but also of respecting sector status quo. We know we have been the architects of a new phenomenon and have created a brand with an unusual story: out current strategy consists of sharing this experience with professionals in the optical channel. We want to have allies and surround ourselves with suitable partners who know how to interpret our brand, which is already very popular and sought-after. We are accessible, correct and cool in terms of quality and price. Our goal is to create a network of alliances in the sector by working with the most qualified professionals. We want opticians to gradually approach the brand, opticians who are able to benefit the most from our brand’s huge potential. Similarly, we want the sector to share in this paradigm shift and show that the consumption model has changed for ever. The fact of having the necessary keys and a detailed knowledge of the model of today’s consumers and their buying patterns, make us exceptionally attractive to all those partners who need to “join in the dance” of the new generation.