January 23, 2019
A 40 minute drive from Luxembourg City lies the small town of Hosingen, home to the country’s first luxury eyewear company, Wood Optic Diffusion, creators of Gold & Wood. Founded in 1995 by Maurice Leonard, the small team of craftsmen and women create frames in a mix of noble materials - including wood, buffalo horn, gold, and silk - in a setting designed exclusively for exceptional craftsmanship by hand.
Clodagh Norton visited Hosingen to meet Maurice Leonard, Founder and CEO.
Q: What is your focus in the collection today in terms of materials, design features and details?
A: Our Spring/Summer 2018 collection takes our new creative direction forward. One and a half years ago we launched new design concepts with even more fine tuning as regards quality and design focus, under the guidance of brand manager Vanessa Di Giovanni, and this has achieved excellent feedback, opportunities and exciting growth in 2017. In our collection today, hand-painted silk is very much in the spotlight. We have seen much success with this material in our first women’s collection “Gaia”. For MIDO, we introduced eyepieces for men in natural silk, adorned with patterns inspired by Shibori, a Japanese ‘dyeing’ technique. We work with a painter/artist for these unique silks which are also inspired by the work of Pierre Soulages, specifically his Outrenoir works. To complete our offer of titanium and precious wood combinations, a new unisex concept is also being introduced, for those who love our models Titan and Orsay.
Q: How would you say the designs have evolved? What are the traditional aspects of the frames that have not changed since the company was founded?
A: Gold & Wood represents tradition and unique know-how, developed since 1995. We have always worked with a very selective mix of noble materials and this remains an essential ingredient of our collection and its distinctive look. Over the years, we have developed new technologies, new combinations of materials, while constantly refining our style and comfort. Our range is now appreciated by a wider audience, and we work in-depth to meet the demands of the millenials in search of a special ‘emotional’ purchase.
What never changes? The people and the know-how. Our master craftsmen and women have been by our side since the beginning of the adventure, and we grow and evolve together.
\\ Left: Model GAIA 03.01 - Right: Model B16 NEO 02.01
Q: Gold & Wood has announced participation of Alain Miklitarian as Artistic Director this year. How has this come about and how will you work together?
A: We have a common passion: high-end eyewear, a fascination for noble materials and luxury craftsmanship. Alain Miklitarian understands our exceptional products, their artistic value, and the current design direction under Vanessa, who has worked with him previously for 15 years. We are looking forward to Alain Miklitarian’s contribution for further innovation and development of the brand image at a time of growth; this is an area in which he is very experienced.
Q: You have a distribution network across the globe. Where are your key markets today and how would you say you are addressing the needs of these regions?
A: Our first market remains the United States. We have a strong presence and consistent recognition from the opticians there. Of course, we are present in Europe, with particular success. in France and Benelux. In order to support our ‘optician’ ambassadors, we offer them a selective distribution which gives them exclusivity in a given territory. Our brand ambassadors do outstanding work to provide the best for the customer. Our training programme is very technical and is based on the values of our brand, which we believe differentiates us from our competitors. We help our customers to sell successfully and to increase their sales, whenever and wherever possible.
\\ New campaign 2018 - Model GAIA 04.01
Q: What is your perception of the luxury eyewear segment at the current time and its growth in general terms? How has the luxury eyewear segment changed?
A: The luxury segment in the Optical Industry is changing like other sectors, and perhaps more. With the new brand distribution of famous groups who work with licensed collections, we are witnessing a new configuration in which we – as an independent company - have to double our innovation whilst retaining our identity and core values. Gold & Wood does not compromise and remains faithful to its international development strategy. Our short- to medium-term goals are to maintain and improve, wherever possible, our level of craftsmanship in Luxembourg, as well as increasing our desirability to loyal consumers by adapting to new purchasing behaviour. Luxury is changing, and millennials have a different, disruptive relationship with luxury accessories. We have already been catering to these changes for two years and we are ready to respond quickly to the new business model before us.
Q: What do you have planned in 2018 that you can share?
A: As usual, we will participate in the most influential international exhibitions. Personally, I plan to invest more time on the ground, in collaboration with our brand ambassadors, in order to bring consistent support during our Trunk Shows. I can promise other amazing events designed to help us stay close to our consumers and to grow our successes and the desirability of the product as it is today.
\\ New Campaign 2018 - Model B16 NEO 02.02