Behind the brand

Eyewear brand partners

Mondottica CEO, Tony Pessok, on rebranding, joining the UN Global Compact Network, and approaches to brand partnerships


Can you tell us about Mondottica’s rebrand? What drove this?

I come from the world of apparel, and if you look over the course of the last few months, so many brands have rebranded themselves to re-engage with consumers. A number of those are actually our brand partners.

We were going to rebrand when I joined, but because of the pandemic, it wasn't the right time. We completed the rebrand at the beginning of this year. We did it all internally, so all the creative was done in-house. The team created three different identities reflecting the look, feel and touchpoints that our clients and customers have with Mondottica. The one we selected, which is now our logo, was a bit bolder and in a lowercase which seems to be the trend at this moment. I'm delighted with the output.

You stepped into the role January 2020. Could you tell us what effect COVID-19 had on Mondottica and how the company responded?

We kept the business open throughout COVID-19 and we kept the warehouse open for servicing because eyewear is a medical device.

I think where we've seen the biggest influence is, with everybody working from home and spending more time in front of their screens, people’s eye health has deteriorated. For example, as CEO, where I would normally have spent maybe three hours a day in front of my screen, I was reaching eight to 10 hours a day on screens. Then once we turn the computer off, we spend time on more screens – watching television or on our phones. Eye health has been impacted and I think that has resulted in the spike of sales that a number of businesses, including ours, have seen over the last two years.

We upgraded our business-to-business platform and website, and invested in technology to be able to show 360 images of frames. We've built a photographic studio in-house, so rather than outsourcing all of the imagery, it's all done internally which allows us a much quicker response and lead time. We've upgraded our sales tool that the reps use when they're out taking client orders so it’s linked live to the inventory that we have. All these changes are paying significant dividends.

Is this digital footprint something Mondottica is looking to grow?

It is, but the optical business still want to touch, look, and feel when it comes to frames. Digital is great where we've got existing business relationships and brands with optometrists. But launching new brands through digital doesn't work. It's great to be able to service our existing more proficiently, but in terms of generating new business, I don't see that that's going to be the way forwards.

What approach does Mondottica take in terms of brand partnerships?

Our approach has been as brand eyewear partners; we don't see ourselves as just a licensee. My background is in the world of licencing and what really appealed to me when I joined Mondottica was the close relationships that we have with each of our brands.

We involve our brands in so many different stages of product development. Rather than just presenting the product for approval at the end of the process, we take their feedback, trends and input, and understand what they want to see from eyewear, then translate that into what we know works from a commercial perspective.

We have a separate brand manager for each brand, who have their own liaison at the parental brand houses that we work with. That close relationship really does pay dividends, hence the fact that we've got long-term partnerships with each of our brands, renewed on a consistent basis. I think that demonstrates, not just the financial success that we have with the brands, but the fact that they trust in us and believe in us as their brand partners to represent them.

Could you tell us about the company’s approach to sustainability?

Coming from the world of apparel myself, it's something that's been on everybody's agenda for the last number of years, but hasn't really translated into optics. I think it's something that the younger generation are more interested in than the older generation, which is probably why it hasn't resonated as much within the world of optical, because of the typical age of the end consumer.

But it's something that we as a company are absolutely determined to push forwards. We have a sustainability team inside Mondottica. We are carbon neutral in each of our offices. We make sure that all of our factories are certified.

We will be moving forwards towards, ideally, a fully-circular product, which we've already started to do with the Vivienne Westwood launch. That is, if not the first, then one of the first fully sustainable eyewear collections. Rather than having individual SKUs that are sustainable, it is the entire collection. That's part of their brand ethos as Vivienne Westwood, and it was one of the main reasons why they were happy to work with us as their partners, because we share the same ethos in terms of sustainability.

What does it mean for Mondottica to be part of the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Network? What led to the decision to join?

Mondottica joined the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Network to be transparent about our commitment to doing good business. It was driven through our intentions to be more sustainable and have a positive impact on the planet. It was also driven by our intrinsic values of treating people well, and doing things right, highlighting our commitments to our stakeholders, customers, and people outside the business.

The UN Global Compact is based on partnership to make sustainable change. This aligns with our partnership approach to our brands and our long-term strategy.

What can you tell us about what is coming up for Mondottica in the coming months either as a company, or in terms of brand news?

2023 marks some significant moments for Mondottica. Our partnership with Christian Lacroix saw victory at the 2022 Silmo D’Or with the SUN23 frame ‘CL5108’ winning the sunglass category. Next year also marks 20 years of our partnership with Ted Baker. We are proud to work with such an iconic British brand and look forward to another 20 years.

We will also see the renewal of several of our longstanding license agreements with Sandro, Maje, Hackett and Pepe, amongst others.

We are in the advanced stages of executing several new and exciting license opportunities for brands that have not previously entered the world of eyewear – watch this space.

We are continuing to focus on sustainability, all of our UK-produced print point of sale materials are fully recyclable. We are also working with our brands to produce more frames made from sustainable materials including Acetate Renew.