American visions

In 2016, Rem, renowned American eyewear company, became a subsidiary of De Rigo Vision. Keeping his position in senior management is CEO Mike Hundert, who is also currently the Chairman of The Vision Council. We spoke to him about fashion, prevention and much more.

As USA subsidiary of De Rigo Vision, could you tell us more about your structure?
The foundation of De Rigo Rem, a wholly owned subsidiary of Italy-based De Rigo Vision is the 65-year legacy of Rem Eyewear, which was acquired by De Rigo Vision in 2016. De Rigo Rem drives sales in North America of its American legacy brands and selected brands from the vast global portfolio of De Rigo Vision.

In your portfolio you have US brands: how do you manage and distribute them?
At the same time, the US entity manages its portfolio of brands, including Converse and John Varvatos, leveraging other De Rigo subsidiaries for distribution of those brands around the world. As such, the award-winning product development team of Rem has been maintained and expanded under De Rigo Rem.
This year we have launched regional Converse collections to supplement the“global collection”. There are regional collections now offered throughout EMEA, and another created for the Asian market that addresses the unique needs there.

What kind of frames is the US consumer looking for? How has it changed his requests during the last years?
Fashion is constantly changing, and eyewear has not escaped that perpetual cycle. The thick plastic look is swinging to the other side, with lightweight and comfort being the most desired qualities. Metal continues to grow in popularity, at the expense of acetate. Round shapes have taken a bit of thunder from the still popular rectangle shapes.
This market is particularly driven by“managed care” insurance. More than 60% of all eyewear purchased in the US is done so with the help of insurance, usually provided through one’s employer plan. That fact drives frame designers to cost engineer the outcome to fit within the insurance allowance provided by most plans in order to drive volume. Managed vision care insurance is most often a benefit provided by an employer. Hence, when employment is high, as it is now, more people have such insurance, which tends to drive up eyewear sales in general.

And what about the other brands owned or licensed by De Rigo?
De Rigo Group manages over 25 brands. Markets for each brand are evaluated individually, influenced by their recognition and reputation in each respective market. For instance, Carolina Herrera is completely managed from Italy. Due to its strong reputation in North America, and its classic styling, Carolina Herrera was among the first brands brought over to the US subsidiary for distribution here.
Conversely, we have evaluated each American brand to determine its best potential markets. For instance, we have just introduced Converse in a number of key European markets through De Rigo’s family of subsidiaries.
The North American subsidiary has already taken on the distribution of several De Rigo Vision brands, including Nina Ricci, Dunhill, Lanvin, Furla, Police, Chopard, and Carolina Herrera.

As Chairman of the Vision Council you took part to the first“Eye Health Awareness Day”. Can you comment it?

It was a privilege to join colleagues from Europe to explore how best to collaborate in the mission to resolve the need for basic eyecare by an estimated 700 million people on the planet. This is a global crisis can be aided and leveraged by working together.
The Vision Council leads a consortium of parties, from the American Optometric Association to big players like Luxottica, J&J, and Essilor. Together, in 2017 these organizations pooled more than $13 million to invest in media messages regarding the need for an annual eye exam. The return on that investment is estimated to have been an incremental 3.4 million eye exams, generating $752 million in purchases of goods and services.