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Tuesday / July 16.
HomemifashionSeeing Without Boundaries

Seeing Without Boundaries

As soon as Andreas Aschauer-Martinelli, the international brand manager for Silhouette eyewear, arrived in Sydney he was struck by the similarity between the curves of our famous Opera House and the aesthetic curve of a silhouette frame. “This is artful design in its simplest form. This is beauty.”What better way to interview the flamboyant brand guru than to take him out on the harbour to see the Sydney Opera House up close.

“With rimless eyewear, the customer isn’t boxed in”, enthuses Silhouette Brand Manager, Andreas Aschauer-Martinelli. “It allows you to see and be seen without boundaries. With rimless it is all about your personality shining through.”

Two years ago when Silhouette realised its image needed a facelift, Andreas was recruited from the world of haute couture fashion. When CEO of Silhouette, Arnold Schmidt approached Andreas to offer him the position of International Brand Manager, Andreas initially refused. “I thought being creative with two temples would be too dry… It is certainly NOT!” he says, punctuating the air with his finger.

Andreas explains that he was quickly convinced that in terms of design, eyewear was even more important than even clothing, as the face is the first thing someone notices. “The face is the artwork. At Silhouette we don’t want to hide that artwork behind a frame.”

As the Swiss are famous for their watches, we want to be famous for our frames

According to Andreas, his half Italian/half Austrian heritage and the multicultural upbringing he has had travelling around the world, made him into a very passionate and creative person… qualities which have led him to the career he has today. At University, Andreas studied Literature and was initially encouraged by his parents to become an academic. But before long he realised this was not the right career path for him; he wanted to work in fashion. His brother was already working as a fashion designer and Andreas quickly realised the creative blood ran through his veins too.

Andreas soon began to climb the career ladder, working for some of the biggest names in fashion. One job which had a palpable impact on him was with fashion guru Gianni Versace. Pride creeps into his voice as he explains that it was Versace himself who taught him that, “sometimes you find beauty in a simple line’. Andreas would later learn the significance of this lesson at Silhouette, where the most important quality of the titanium frames is their minimalism; the lines of their armbands.

Brand Spanking New

Bringing Andreas on board was a strategic move by Silhouette and a testament to his brand management. With his help, Silhouette is currently in the process of expanding its profile with innovative new campaigns.

Earlier this year, Silhouette launched the world’s first eyewear application (app) for the iPhone, the Virtual Mirror. This clever marketing strategy has solidified Silhouette’s transition from a relatively old-hat brand into the forefront of modern style and technology. The Virtual Mirror, which is also available online at Silhouette’s website, allows users to upload their own photos and “try on” the latest styles of Silhouette eyewear, then email and print the pictures as they wish. “It is a virtual change room,” says Andreas. “But most importantly, it is state-of-the art, which is the new image of Silhouette we want to illustrate to people.”

According to Andreas, the idea behind the new Silhouette is that the eyewear and the technology work for the end consumer and the eye care professional “to make life easier, more open and more successful,” he said.

“We have more big things for the future. It is all a big secret, but what I can tell you is that everything from now on will only to be state-of-the art. We have new collections coming out, two new lines of eyewear, new campaigns… But most importantly, everything is rimless. We want to become number one in rimless and number one in eyewear sales. We want everyone to experience seeing without boundaries.

“Like Mary Quant who invented the miniskirt, some of the most revolutionary ideas start out as scandals. But I really believe that in time the frame will be obsolete. Silhouette is about you, not the frame. It allows you to be free. It is a revolution.”

The Campaign

Mimo hosted an event in February last at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney to introduce the Australian eye care industry to Silhouette’s new business concept, ‘Seeing without Boundaries’.

One of the key speakers of the night was CEO Arnold Schmied, who inherited the company from his parents, Annaliese and Arnold (senior), the founders of Silhouette. Mr. Schmied said two years ago, Silhouette decided to take on a new, unique approach to their business plan in an attempt to differentiate themselves.

“As the Swiss are famous for their watches, we want to be famous for our frames,” says Schmied of his Austrian-based company.

The move towards rimless began in the year 2000, when the company launched the Titan Minimal Art (TMA) frame, the first eyewear made without hinges or screws and weighing just 1.8 grams. This move, according to Arnold, was the company’s biggest breakthrough as it was “the only form of eyewear that would suit any kind of face”.

Eight years later, in January 2008, Silhouette made the game changing decision to concentrate only on rimless eyewear. Now, a decade on from the launch of the TMA, the company has built its entire business model around rimless design, naming this revolution ‘Seeing Without Boundaries’… and is attempting to convince optometrists worldwide to convert to rimless too.

According to Arnold Schmied; “This design is historic. It has been revolutionary. Seeing Without Boundaries is the future of eyewear.”

While we don’t expect to see everyone racing out to buy Silhouette eyewear and only Silhouette, it is feasible to say that the company is “the number one in rimless eyewear” as they have been dominating this space for the last decade.

Furthermore, rather than dwelling only in the over 40s market as it had done previously, Silhouette has now come into its own as an eyewear company offering a stylish alternative to ‘regular’ fashion frames.

Over the next few years we can expect to see an increase in the number of people worldwide who are Silhouette fans. Currently there are eight million people in the world wearing Silhouette frames – time will tell how many more will choose to ‘see without boundaries’.