Sunglasses and cool have a long and storied relationship. Jack Nicholson, Bono, Anna Wintour and Elton John are all famously cool and are known for wearing sunglasses all of the time (including at night and indoors), and though they all probably would have been cool no matter what, the sunglasses certainly do add to their mystery and allure.
And given the long established relationship between the famous and influential and sunglasses, the concept behind celebrity-backed and endorsed Privé Revaux Eyewear is not all that surprising — who better to sell sunglasses than the people who’ve done most to popularize them? Jamie Foxx, Hailee Steinfeld, Ashley Benson and Jeremy Piven are all partners in the venture, as well as celebrity stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn.
But what is perhaps surprising is the price point that the sunglasses brand by the rich and the famous is targeting — the “under $100” frames market first tapped by Warby Parker, with its $30 shades. It’s a move, Privé Revaux Founder David Schottenstein said, that makes a lot of sense in a world where consumers are frequently paying sums of money that really don’t make sense.
“If you look at the sunglass market and the way it's set up, it's probably one of the only items people spend $300 to $500 on that they lose with incredible frequency. It's almost like a commodity … and the margins are just absurd,” Schottenstein said.
Particularly, he noted, because when it comes to sunglasses, it is far from clear what spending hundreds of dollars even buys in terms of quality of style.
“I knew that if I searched hard enough I could find a factory that manufactures [quality] eyewear ... And I knew that I could charge less than $30. It's ambitious, but if you know the industry, as far as what the costs are [it's doable],” Schottenstein said.
The Schottenstein family has been a force in retail for some time — they were the founding family group behind DSW, and David's cousin Jay Schottenstein is head of American Eagle Outfitters. Privé Revaux is one of many internet ventures David Schottenstein has created, including men's custom clothiers Astor & Black.
The goal for the brand since its founding has been rapid and aggressive growth, as the business is targeted around rather tight margins.
“We probably have the smallest margin in the sunglasses business with what we're charging, but the fact is I don't care,” he said. “I don't need to make a ton of money on each pair. I want to sell a ton of sunglasses.”
And so far, it seems, the up-and-coming sunglasses brand has done just that — pushed by strong word-of-mouth by some particularly influential speakers including Katie Holmes, Jennifer Lopez, Cara Delevingne very publicly touting the brand, and by a significant investment by TSG Consumer Partners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, though TSG has also backed brands like REVOLVE, vitaminwater, Smashbox Cosmetics and PAIGE.
And with that infusion of new funding, Privé Revaux is eyeing strategies to grow its physical footprint in the not-so-distant future. Though the brand opened as an eCommerce only online business in mid-2017, six months in it opened its first physical location: a 5,400 square-foot space in the heart of Times Square.
According to Schottenstein, the firm will soon be opening up a second store in Los Angeles, and looking at an international location as well. Plus, he noted, stores are not the only way to go about physical retail. As of the end of 2018 the brand had a little over 20 Privé Revaux-branded kiosks in operation, with more planned to go up in high-traffic consumer areas in 2019.
“Collaborating with TSG is an honor,” celebrity investor Jamie Foxx said in a press release. Of the firm’s progress, he said, “One look at their portfolio and you know these guys mean business. I couldn’t be more excited about Privé Revaux’s future.”