The Charles Stone New York collection colour palette is truly head turning, developed to appeal to the creative individuals who have embraced this delightfully fun brand. I caught up with creator Robert William Morris when he was in Sydney to talk about his new brand.
Robert William Morris has taken the shackles off his creative intent and come up with a new brand for a new, younger target market.
There are many ways the British designer likes to describe his new Charles Stone eyewear brand, but wherever he goes, he comes back to the concepts of “New York” and “fun”.
“Whereas William Morris eyewear is sophisticated and based on London, Charles Stone is about fun and it’s based on the feel of New York City – you can see the influence of New York versus London in all the marketing imagery that supports Charles Stone. The two brands sit nicely side by side.”
The collection is often used for window displays because it’s different enough to catch attention
Robert said it was important to create a fresh brand for the collection rather than adding another collection to the traditional Robert Morris label.
“Creating a new brand gives you the freedom to do something new without impacting William Morris London. Charles Stone is a feel good brand. In terms of styling, it is a little more vintage, it’s very young, very colourful, and contemporary in style. We’re using TR90, which is very lightweight, easy to wear, and fun, it’s meant to be fun – from the marketing right through to the shapes and colours.
“What’s quite clever with our use of colour is the TR90 and acetate are thin so while they are bright there is not too much of it – it’s still quite subtle.”
When it comes to shape, Robert said “there is an element of vintage, but we’ve gone slightly larger – slightly daring. When people put them on it’s quite nice, they feel a little bit cheeky, a bit naughty – it takes some people out of their comfort zone.”
Charles Stone is different, but not too different, explains Robert because the aim is to make sure it sells. “The catch phrase I use for both collections is ‘conservatively different’ – that’s certainly the case with William Morris. It’s easier to design a product that is over the top than it is to create something that is different but wearable. I want to push people outside their comfort zone but not too much… and that’s what we’re extremely good at doing. It’s also what opticians like; we want everyone to feel comfortable.”
A Changing Market
Robert said the UK market is changing. “Most consumers are more concerned about how they look – they take the medical side, the fact that they will be given great lenses – for granted. They want to look younger, trendy, but not too trendy – that’s the big change in the UK.
While women in general, have been adventurous for a while, men are finally beginning to step out of their comfort zone. “It’s really great to see guys walking around with more interesting product on their faces… Opticians too are increasingly able to sell fashion. Being clinically trained, in the past they have found selling difficult. We have invited our opticians to wear our brand in practice; there’s no better ambassador – once you latch onto a brand you’re a supporter.”
The Right Price Point
Robert said the concept for Charles Stone emerged five years ago but it’s taken a while to get off the ground. “The UK was in a major recession and opticians wanted nice products at a really good price point and one they could achieve a really good margin on,” he said. “Now that we’ve got the collection together, the UK has come out of recession, but in Australia I can sense there is still fear.”
To meet the sluggish economy, Robert focused on developing a “low end premium brand”, one that still fitted into the premium segment but was less than half the price of William Morris.
“Price point was important – we needed a price point that opticians felt comfortable with – one that meant they didn’t require commitment to a huge investment, one that lets them have fun.”
As it happens, Robert says, eye health professionals have embraced Charles Stone.
“Opticians always smile when we show them the new collection – they enjoy the fun and the materials, they like the price point… and if they like it, we know they will enjoy dispensing it.
“The collection is often used for window displays because it’s different enough to catch attention, for the optician that means it may bring in a different consumer… it’s a fun opportunity for opticians to build their business.”
Charles Stone is distributed by Frames Etcetera. Contact: (AUS) 08 9248 1882