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Von Zipper exec on business, new styles and more

By Tiffany Montgomery
November 03, 2009 5:50 AM

Today, we catch up with Von Zipper National Sales Manager Curt Fry to get an update on the sunglass maker's business.

From what I've read, the accessories market is tough. How is Von Zipper enticing shoppers to buy sunglasses?

ModconFor this holiday season Von Zipper is keeping things fresh with the release of a new frame called the Modcon (see photos). This style straddles the fence between the current retro trend and more traditional sport wrap and hits the stores in mid-November. Also, to keep the customer stopping to check out the goodies in the VZ case, we are constantly releasing new styles and fresh color updates. This holiday season is no different.

One retailer told me Von Zipper has created an entry price point sunglass that is selling very well. Can you tell me about that?

As the retail climate deteriorated late last year, we listened to our retailers and consumers and brought to market several price-conscious styles that have done very well - the Burnout for men and the Trudie for women. We designed these two frames at the VZ world headquarters here in Southern California, as we do with all VZ styles, but have sourced them through alternate factories to produce them. By doing this, we were able to bring a great product to market at a more aggressive price point without sacrificing our high quality standards.

ModconAre you seeing any interesting trends in what consumers are buying these days?

The retro wayfarer look and bright-colored sunglasses are still going strong, but we believe that the Modcon will take that look to the next phase, as vintage wraparound styling did in the 50's and 60's when this look entered the market. Von Zipper has always had a bit more of a fashion flare to it than the other brands in our category, so we feel strongly about this look and style.

Are retailers as committed to the sunglass category as they were in 2007?

ModconYes, the smart retailers still understand that accessories, especially eyewear, usually turn the most profit per square foot on the retail floor. They are staying committed to the category, but I am seeing a trend with the top retailers. While once they had six to eight eyewear brands on the floor, they are now cutting it back to three or four of their top selling brands and keeping them fully stocked rather then have eight brands with cases half stocked.

This is the smart thing to do as the turns per brand have actually gone up for most all the retailers that have done this. By cutting out the poor-performing brands, the category overall is doing better.

Will Von Zipper ever move into clothing?

Von Zipper does offer a great addition to our eyewear and goggle line with tee's, hoodies, headwear and unique pieces but not a full-blown clothing line at this time. But never say never. With our strong ties to the Billabong family, we do have the access to expand this category. However, at this time we are staying focused on the eyewear and goggle category, which is where we excel.

We launched our premium collection of eyewear Lucre last spring and, I do not want to let the cat completely out of the bag but we do have a new division within the eyewear category that we will be launching worldwide in Spring 2010. So stay tuned for that!

How is the goggle business? Is Von Zipper introducing anything new at SIA in January?

The VZ Goggle business is still very strong for us and yes we are launching a new goggle style at the SIA show in late January. We will also be demo-ing it at the On Snow Demo at Winter Park right after the show.

We are also continuing our collaboration with Skull Candy with our patented headphone Money Clip System. This allows the rider to clip the headphones onto any goggle and listen to music or answer phone calls with a touch of a button. When done shredding, the headphone cans clip back into the headgear for use in the car, airplane etc.

I am really excited to have the show in Denver and to be able to ride and test product with the retailers directly after. I think it is a much better atmosphere in which to present snow product.






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