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					Oakley Eyewear

Eyeing that Pair of Oakley Eyewear? Care to do it in a Store that Actually
Looks the Part?

Themes are big businss. After theme parks, the next big thing to hit us
has been the theme store - Apple has the Apple store for the whole
experience, and Disney has its Disney theme at its children's merchandising
stores, the first one of which opened in Times Square earlier this year. The
concept of starting a store to be able to turn a product into an experience
is catching on. The latest to jump on the bandwagon is the maker of
Oakley eyewear - owned by the umbrella brand Luxottica that either owns
or contract-manufactures just about every brand of designer sunglasses in
the world. It doesn't matter which designer label you buy - it could be
ultraexpensive $600 sunglasses by Bvlgari or Prada or the moderately
expensive Ray-Bans - they are all made by Luxottica. The first two
brands, the company manufactures under contract for those labels; the last
one, Luxottica bought from the original owner, Bausch&Lomb, a few years
ago. Either way, whatever brand of designer eyewear you buy, more likely
than not, you're buying from Luxottica.

With the recession attacking the luxury industry more deeply than any other,
Luxottica has been trying to reinvent itself as more than merely sunglasses.
Its first shot in this attempt has been the Luxottica concept store, the Eye
Hub. It is kind of a risky move if you think about it. Eyewear isn't exactly
a very cutting edge product; while it is indispensable to fashion, it somehow
hasn't had the magic rub off. It's just that in a recession this bad,
manufacturers of consumer luxuries need to take bold measures to even
survive. The Eye Hub concept is a store that is in the shape of a huge
eyeball. As you walk up to the door, the concierge meets you, and tries to
discuss with you right off how you would like to interact with the store
(that's right, it's an "interactive store"). If you are a male cycling
champion and you are looking for Oakley eyewear for the Tour de France,
you will right away be led to the sports section of the store that houses
the wind tunnel, a rain room and also a snowstorm machine. You get to
make your choice of Oakley eyewear and then try it out in the store's a
"real-world climate-maker".

Of course, you really need to see how cool you look wearing your new
Oakley eyewear and going at the activity of your choice; and for this, they
have large touchscreens all over the place that double up as mirrors. These
screens will also snap your pictures with several kinds of glasses on, and
post it on Facebook for you so that you can get your friends opinions. The
layout of the store takes a page out of Internet playbook: the same model
of eyewear will often appear in multiple places throughout the store. If a
model of Oakley eyewear is great for cycling, but then it's also of use in
non-sporty applications, it will appear in both the sports the fashion
sections. Gadgetry and gimmickry abound; if you wish to complete your sale
right at the display area, your salesperson can at the press of a button
turn the glass areas around opaque to give you a bit of privacy.

Which is all wonderful, if it will actually get people into the store to buy
and not to just play. Luxury retailers like these have to fight not just the
economic downturn, but also the trend there is in simply buying on the
Internet and not visiting a store. Something does seem right about their
approach.
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