When the designer of Melbourne-based jewellery brand Poms, Adriana Giuffrida, approached Sydney eyewear label Pared hoping to collaborate in 2013, it was a whole year before their shades had their day in the sun.
“It was funny initially because it was a slow start. And then we sold through [the collection],” says Giuffrida. “After a year it was really catching on and people were interested, so we decided to do it again and again.”
The Italian-inspired cat-eye silhouette, Gatto, has had three production runs, selling out within a month each time. Made by hand in Australia, the lenses are from Germany and the Swarovski crystals that hang from the glasses’ arms are from Austria.
What is it about these shades that have so many Australians infatuated? Giuffrida has a theory. “When they tried them on and found out [the cat-eye] worked for them, it came as a surprise. Maybe it’s the see-through tone that seemed to compliment their face,” she says.
For Pared’s creative director, Samantha Stevenson, the glasses tapped into a wider movement. “It has been a hit due to the shape being very in line with the current ’90s trend,” she says.
Poms is now going out on its own with a new sunglasses line, due to launch in October. So this is the last time you can get Gatto before the collaboration is discontinued. “We’re 90 per cent Australian [in terms of sales] and we’re looking to bust into the US market,” says Giuffrida. “We were really lucky to work with Pared, to be able to learn from them. Now that we are bigger, we’re expanding.”
After re-cutting the best-selling colours (pink, black, clear, turquoise and ivory) and introducing four new tonal shades in blue, yellow, grey and brown in June, Gatto found a new fan.
Beyoncé Knowles posted a slideshow on Instagram wearing the ivory style on August 5. It’s been viewed 6,790, 311 times and clocked up almost 14,000 comments. The upload led to a flow-on effect of people re-gramming and tagging both designers. “It’s refreshing getting a new energy and buzz about what you’re doing,” says Giuffrida.
Surprisingly, the celebrity plug didn’t lead to a surge in sales. Instead, Poms has seen a small spike in its social-media following with a few hundred new followers. “It has been an amazing thing to share, giving us a really great talking point for the brand. Some colours have sold out quite quickly, but we still have ivory available if anyone is keen for Bey’s look,” she says.
While celebrity endorsement didn’t lead to transactions – LA label Reformation’s latest campaign did help. “We get really great responses from different stores as they put up really cool still-life images. Those photos get shared rapidly on Instagram. We get a jump in followers from something like that,” she says. “Customers like engaging with us in that way, it’s a nice community and there are some really amazing photographers out there working with good stores.”
“It [the Beyoncé response] shows people over there are really interested. It’s a confidence boost to go, ‘Yeah, we’ve been building the brand since 2011 and it’s time to see the rest of the world.”