In May 2018, Silhouette International announced the appointment of Onofrio “Mike” Giannattasio as president of its U.S. subsidiary. With more than 30 years of experience in the luxury watch and accessories sectors, including with Montblanc North America (where he served as CEO), Christian Dior Watches, Breguet, and Swatch Group, Giannattasio leads the company with his knowledge in brand strategy, organization development, sales growth, and marketing transformation within the business sector.
Here, we sit down for an exclusive interview with Giannattasio to hear more on what Silhouette is preparing for Vision Expo West (Sept. 18-21 at the Sands Expo) and how the 55-year-old company’s new solutions are still helping guide the independent eyecare professional to success.
Eyecare Business: How is Silhouette positioned to be a partner for independent eyecare professionals?
Mike Giannattasio: [Silhouette] is still a small, family-owned, independent organization that is dedicated to the success of eyecare professionals and our new business solutions are driven by our learnings of—and response to—market needs. As an independent company, with more than 50 years of expertise, we have developed innovations that will continue to drive us forward as the benchmark of premium eyewear and allow us to be understood as pioneers.
EB: Silhouette has some announcements for Vision Expo West. How will Silhouette provide new solutions for eyecare professional to help them succeed today?
MG: We have several exciting things that we’re launching [in the U.S.] at Vision Expo West:
• Silhouette Vision Sensation
It takes a meticulous process of over 150 steps to manufacture our frames. With Silhouette Vision Sensation, we produce the frame from scratch and we produce the [prescription] lens. We build the frame and lens in unity to provide the most optimal seeing experience for the wearer.
Silhouette Vision Sensation represents a frame and lens in perfect harmony. Silhouette commissioned our Panorama lens design, which allows us to use a single base curve that perfectly matches the curve of every Silhouette frame.
This allows perfect visual and wearing comfort. Modern lens designs are typically on flatter base curve lenses to decrease thickness, however, flatter lens base curves will reshape many of our frames and compromise the accuracy of the fitting values of the finished eyewear.
The flatter curves also cause visual disturbances for the wearer if the frame is not properly re-aligned after mounting. By using a lens base curve that perfectly matches the curve of every Silhouette frame, not only do we ensure that the finished lens fitting mark alignment matches what was taken using our demo frames, the consumer will enjoy optimal comfort and vision because the ideal lens and frame alignment is apparent right out of the box. In early testing, we have an adaptability rate of 99.9% when people put on our progressive lenses.
• Silhouette Light Management
Not only are we launching a clear Rx lens, we’re also launching an Rx sun lens at Vision Expo West, and that is Silhouette Light Management. Through the manipulation of colors, we are able to create a sight experience that vividly enhances color and contrast. We’re also able to ensure that people have a better circadian rhythm through the management of blue light, as well as the red and yellow light.
Sight protection has long been a topic at Silhouette and with Silhouette Light Management, we can offer the ECP an incredible opportunity to expand their sunglass business to loyal Silhouette frame wearers as well as future wearers. Silhouette Light Management prescription lenses are also made using our Panorama lens design and incorporate the same production parameters as the clear design plus additional calculations for higher wrap angles and base curves common to sunglasses providing the clearest vision and widest fields of view across the sunglass lens.
What we are offering are premium sunglass lenses with premium sunglass frames in perfect harmony, a first for the industry.
• 20 Years Titan Minimal Art Collection
20 years ago, Silhouette ushered in a new era of lightness and design with the Titan Minimal Art—a frame that revolutionized the industry. With over 35 missions to space and 10 international design awards, we created a true icon that is perfect for every age, style, and personality.
Our new Special Edition 20 Years TMA pays homage to our iconic model, while showing how extravagant a classic design can be. With this, we are introducing four stylish models, all futuristic and modern.
Two of the models feature an enchanting holographic, transparent full-rim look, while the other two consist of expressive shapes and understated mirror effects in gold and silver. Our iconic past calls for an even greater vision for the future.
EB: Please tell us more about Silhouette Vision Sensation. What are the basics of the program?
MG: The Silhouette Vision Sensation program stands on three pillars: Perfect Vision, Perfect Look, and Perfect Service.
- Our Panorama lens design, which was commissioned by Silhouette, allows us to produce lenses on a single base curve that perfectly matches our Silhouette frame to create a frame and lens in perfect harmony.
- We also incorporate the finished lens shape into the lens design process, which allows us to better distribute the lens curve data within the final lens shape for the widest fields of view.
- Our standard lens material, high index 1.6, which is seldom used in the US market has a high abbe value to ensure the best vision through the lens. It also has the highest tensile strength of lens materials used in the US and is ideal for our rimless and groove full-rim frames.
- We include our premium Clear Sensation anti-reflective on every lens.
- The above points combine to create an eyewear solution that ECPs can confidently offer to consumers that will provide clear vision across the entire lens with the widest fields of view—all with the exceptional comfort of a Silhouette frame.
- Each pair of Silhouette Vision Sensation lenses can be customized (in full rimless) to its wearer using one of our 400 lens shapes.
- Each lens shape can be modified on our ordering portal for a greater degree of customization and we provide a rendering of the modified shape.
- Fashionable tints are also available for a greater degree of customization and include Clear Sensation anti-reflective—it is rare to be able to offer a tint with AR-coated lenses.
- ECPs can now offer the end consumer a truly custom eyewear solution.
- All Silhouette Vision Sensation lenses are produced in our state-of-the-art lens lab at Silhouette headquarters in Linz, Austria. There are no subcontractors, which ensures industry-leading quality levels on lenses for all Silhouette frames with competitive delivery times.
- ECPs will benefit as only Silhouette experts craft and assemble each frame and prescription lens.
- Production worries are eliminated because our exclusive ordering portal ensures that all necessary information is provided to ensure proper production.
MG: We developed Silhouette Light Management lenses to meet three distinct needs of the ECP and the consumer: Unique Functionality, Total Protection, and Iconic Color choices.
- Silhouette Light Management provides the wearer with unique lens functionality that filters mixed colors in the visual spectrum to create exceptional color brilliance and purity. Additionally, our high contrast lenses have a transmission peak in the yellow spectrum to achieve a lightening effect, even though the lens appears dark.
- Silhouette Light Management offers full UV protection and blue light filtering, which has been a sun protection initiative at Silhouette for over a decade. Silhouette Light Management balances the positive and negative blue light within the range of 400 – 500 nm, which provides optimal vision and protects from high energy blue light. Select blue wavelengths are allowed to pass through the lens in order to maintain proper circadian rhythm as well as color recognition. With Silhouette Light Management and Silhouette Vision Sensation, our prescription lens blanks perfectly match the protection levels, transmission curves and colors of our plano sun lenses.
- Silhouette Light Management lenses are available in three iconic colors: gray, brown and green. These colors perfectly complement the iconic design of every Silhouette sunglass. Available in polarized, non-polarized and with fashionable mirrors, Silhouette Light Management lenses are ideal for the discerning Silhouette wearer who desires a classic look.
MG: Titan Minimal Art revolutionized the industry 20 years ago. The iconic, minimalistic design, which is so prolific today with over 11 million wearers, simply did not exist prior to the launch of Titan Minimal Art. Not only is TMA celebrated by celebrities, but there are astronauts that wear our products because they’re made of high-tech titanium, they don’t have screws, and because the material does not allow for slippage with heat and with sweat.
One can make things beautiful by adorning them with lots of acetate or with lots of pearls or diamonds, but it takes a special skill to strip something down and make it beautiful in its simplest and rawest form, and I think that’s why the TMA design has endured. The opportunity and way to customize and personalize your eyewear is truly endless when it comes to TMA.
EB: How does Silhouette strive for responsible manufacturing?
MG: Our factory is located along the Danube River in Linz, Austria. We actually put back the water into the river cleaner than we receive it. For all of our frames where we do give a full-rim effect, we only use natural materials. We’ve been responsible corporate citizens before it was in fashion. It’s really who we are and how we work and has been for many, many years.
EB: How will former astronaut Jim Wetherbee be involved with Silhouette at Vision Expo West?
MG: Jim Wetherbee is a highly accomplished veteran astronaut andis the only American astronaut to have commanded five space flight missions. On all of his missions, Jim wore Silhouette’s revolutionary Titan Minimal Art frame, as it is hinge-less, screw-less, extremely light weight and offers extraordinary comfort – i.e., the perfect frame for any environment. Jim is a long-time supporter of Silhouette, and is a natural fit to speak to his experience wearing Silhouette eyewear as we gear up to launch our special edition 20 Years TMA models.
In space, you’re dealing with g-force, as well as heat as you’re moving from one atmosphere to the next, so being able to have unobstructed views and having the product sit perfectly on his face, for Jim, there was only one option and it was Silhouette.
He loves to tell the story of why Silhouette is so important to him and why he would never wear anything else. He’s going to be at our luncheon on Sept. 19th, and at our exposition space in The Suites at The venetian [Suite # 36-120]. He’s also going to be there during our sun launch [at the Wynn Las Vegas on Thursday, Sept. 19].
EB: In terms of Vision Sensation and Silhouette Light Management, how does it work for the ECP in terms of logistics?
MG: For both the clear lens and sun lens, [ECPs] can use their existing Silhouette product. Next year, we’ll be launching a Silhouette Vision Sensation app for both clear and sun. Today, they can use all of their current equipment to make that happen, with tools and support for both clear and sun at the point of sale. They can use what they regularly do in terms of the journey with the customer.
EB: Why is it more important than ever for eyecare professionals to differentiate themselves and deliver an outstanding customer experience?
MG: From sneakers, to handbags to automobiles, consumers are looking for customization and an exceptional shopping experience. It’s no different in the vision care field.
ECPs must offer a positive customer experience so consumers will want to visit their offices and make a purchase. Silhouette frames bring consumers into the office because the level of customization that we have historically offered is best done in person. The customer experience can now be taken to an even higher level because Silhouette Vision Sensation is a complete Silhouette eyewear solution, perfectly customized to each consumer and their visual needs.
I believe that what Silhouette does with its values of being independent and ecologically friendly—we offer an option for the independent eyecare professional to stand out and to be different.
In our industry today, I think it becomes increasingly difficult for the ECP to differentiate themselves and to create a consumer experience that they own. For the ECP, not only do we provide them with the opportunity for repeat purchase and the opportunity to sell a premium frame, we now also provide them with the opportunity to put in a premium lens. So, when an ECP is looking at the total margin and profit on their piece, Silhouette really makes a lot of sense for them to stand out.