Bolon is a leading international eyewear brand that embraces and celebrates the essence of self-expression in eyewear through craftsmanship and innovation. Bolon is known to encourage quality, comfort, and style in the case of sunglasses and optical frames. The Indian Optician had the pleasure of meeting Regional Sales Manager APAC and MEA, Thomas Blanloeil, at the recently held Optika Mumbai optical fair held at Nesco, Mumbai.
During the discussion he covered many topics, particularly Bolon’s role and reach in India. Please find below the excerpts of the conversation that ensued:
The Indian Optician (TIO): Let us start with a brief introduction of yourself and the role you have played in this illustrious company’s growth.
Thomas Blanloeil (TB): I am French and have been living in Singapore for the past eleven years. I have been working in the eyewear industry for six years now. I recently joined Bolon to oversee the distribution of the Bolon and Molsion brands in APAC and MEA. Today, I am part of a brand that is growing well, especially in my region, where we have managed to achieve a new sales record in 2022, exceeding our previous records in 2019 (pre-Covid), thanks to an incredible team effort.
TIO: Moving on to your brand, tell us something about Brand Bolon. How and when was this brand conceptualised? What does it embody?
TB: Bolon was founded in 2003. The brand rapidly gained market share, thanks to its fashionable yet wearable design, craftsmanship, and competitive price positioning. Today, the brand is distributed in over 70 countries around the world. It has expanded even further as its market shares, especially in Asia, have significantly increased in sales as compared to 2019.
TIO: Technical excellence seems to govern the organisation so tell us about the innovative styles, techniques, and manufacturing of the product.
TB: Fashion design and premium craftsmanship are definitely key elements of our DNA. Currently, we have two design studios, one in Italy and one in Asia, that allow our designers to be connected with the latest trends across the globe. In the meantime, it is important to understand that we are able to build a collection from initial drawings to full production in 6 to 8 months, unlike some of our competitors who could take a year or more. This allows us to be incredibly proactive and offer the latest fashion designs to our customers. As per our production, we have a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in China with an investment in the latest technology. Not to mention, we are working with the best global suppliers for our raw materials, like Mazzuccheli, a well-known acetate supplier. That shows our dedication to providing quality products.
TIO: According to you what makes the Bolon brand stand apart from the rest? Who is the quintessential Bolon wearer?
TB: Bolon customers are young and mostly part of the Millennials and generation Z. With access to social media, they are constantly gravitating towards the latest trends, yet they also understand quality and are ready to pay the right price to make a statement. This is why Bolon appeals to them, as it combines fashion, artistry, and value for money.
TIO: What kind of marketing initiatives have led brand Bolon to become a success story in such a short time?
TB: That is a very good question. As mentioned, the brand rapidly gained market shares thanks to important investments that helped build awareness among local consumers and leverage local celebrities as brand testimonials. We pretty much deployed the same marketing strategy when it came to the international expansion of the brand. We started our first collaborations with the French actress Sophie Marceau, the Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, and Hailey Bieber to represent the brand. These two key elements, combined with great product features, allowed us to rapidly open distribution all around the world in less than ten years.
“Fashion design and premium craftsmanship are definitely key elements of our DNA. Currently, we have two design studios, one in Italy and one in Asia”
– Thomas Blanloeil
TIO: What prompted your decision to partner with Iris Brands LLP for the exclusive distribution of the Bolon brand in India?
TB: India is a massive market that has so much potential. We needed to have a solid game plan before entering it. At the time, it was very important for us to find a trusted partner to work with and build the brand and its distribution in the right way. This is exactly what we found in Iris, and we are delighted to work with Bhavin, Dia, and their passionate team.
TIO: According to you, how far have they been successful in building up this brand in India?
TB: They have done a great job of building the brand’s image and keeping up with its distribution. They have a great network and are working to expand our reach further and strengthen the brand presence, which is very exciting considering the potential Bolon has in India.
TIO: What are your plans for further consolidating your brand status in India?
TB: With our increasing volume in India, we are looking into the possibility of having design and fitting done specifically for the Indian market in the near future. For the latest Spring/Summer collection, we are introducing a range of trendy rimless sunglasses that are very popular in the market right now. We have also shifted our marketing strategy from having global international ambassadors to more local celebrities, like in Thailand, where we are working with Yaya. This is definitely something we want to look into for India.
TIO: Do you believe that celebrity endorsement of a brand benefits business? How?
TB: Local celebrities can help connect and engage with local consumers in a more accessible way, eventually having a better impact on the consumer’s perception and acceptance of the brand.
TIO: What is Bolon’s vision for India and globally in 2023–24?
TB: For India, we strive to achieve a significant presence and visibility across the country. We look forward to becoming a trustworthy brand partner for many optical professionals, as well as establishing a good footprint in the modern trade. It is important to establish Bolon as one of the leading and fashionable brands for eyewear.
For a global presence, Bolon shall continue its expansion in Asia and the Middle East and further establish Bolon in all of the European markets.
TIO: What is Bolon Eyewear’s design quotient for Indian customers?
TB: A revisitation of iconic expressions of the past, fashioned with contemporary materials to cater to the preferences of the urban audience. These include SS 2023 rimless designs, and in the future, we are exploring the possibility of having more designs and fittings dedicated to India.
TIO: Is India ready for high technical specs and quality for eyewear/lenses?
TB: Definitely! With the increase in spending power in the context of higher-quality eyewear, the technology in lenses will also increase in demand; there is no doubt about it.
TIO: Elaborate on Iris’s new brand, Molsion.
TB: Molsion is another brand in our portfolio with a more affordable price point compared to Bolon.
It shares the same key DNA as Bolon, such as craftsmanship and quality, yet with a trendier design, targeting a younger audience, and a recommended retail price that is 15-20% lower, all of these factors make the brand extremely attractive. Our objective is to attract consumers looking for quality eyewear at a more entry-level price point yet with very good value for money in a well-segmented distribution network.
TIO: Thank you Thomas for sharing all this information with us. We wish you and your team all the best in further consolidating your brand presence in our country.
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