VIU Eyewear, though founded in Switzerland in 2013 by five friends, at its core is driven by one simple idea: to supply high-quality glasses at an affordable price. This concept is at the centre of the VIU ethos and branding, and has made a big mark on the European market, with its stylish stores popping up across Europe; in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Austria.
The glasses themselves are stylish and chic, yet minimal and understated. Paris meets Berlin. Distinctly European. The store fronts, too, look like miniature modern art galleries which, in place of up-and-coming artists, host these sleek glasses. Combined, the visual identity is undeniably aspirational. Youthful and hip, yet classy and classic. The product itself, however, is still very affordable.
Ever distrustful of a deal too good to be true, affordable prices often scare consumers away. But the VIU founders claim that their lower prices do not mean lower quality – “Swiss design, the highest quality standards of an Italian family business, and reasonable prices are not contradictory for us” – and to prove this they are highly transparent about everything, from high-quality materials to Swiss design to sustainable production. Not only does this transparency build trust and highlight the quality of the VIU product, it simultaneously highlights the dishonesty of their competitors (who charge significantly higher prices, often for a mediocre product mass-produced in the Far-east).
All-in-all, it appeals to a distinctly modern, distinctly European, distinctly youthful aspirational class. One still looking for a quality product, but one no longer willing to accept the dictatorial price-tags and translucent methods of the old established brands.
A further embracement of the modern and a middle finger to the old way of doing things, VIU initially cut out the middleman (retailers and wholesalers) and took its product direct to the customer, starting out as a try-at-home online shop. This allowed VIU to build its brand, customer base and the finances needed to open their own stores. It also helped keep costs down and retain complete control over branding and customer relationship.
This savvy and tight control over their own identity and simple message has allowed the five founders to build a strong brand in just a few years. As VIU expands across Europe, with its first store coming soon to London, there is little reason to suspect that the current identity won’t resonate across new markets. However, only time will tell, and, if they truly want to break these new markets, there is a chance they will have to show a flexibility until now unneeded.
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Picture credit: © VIU Eyewear