mifashion

Print this page

Safarro: the Story of an Italian Journey

Melanie Kell | 26 March 2017
Safarro means ‘a journey’ in a nomadic language. It’s a beautiful sounding word with a romantic connotation that struck a chord with entrepreneur Nancy Black and stayed with her until she found a way to use it. Safarro Eyewear was the result, an Italian brand she created in 2012 in collaboration with an Italian family run eyewear company based in Rome.

American born, UK based Nancy Black is no stranger to optics – she started working in the industry in 1993 and never looked back. In an exclusive interview with mivision, she described her experience as “an incredible journey” which is now reflected in the bold colours and cosmopolitan styling of Safarro, her sophisticated Italian eyewear collection for young men and women. 

Why did you decide to jump into the market with your own brand?

“I created Safarro as a vision to market an eyewear brand of distinction, with a true Italian feel. The focus needed to be on artisan craftsmanship. Italy is renowned for their eyewear making skills and when I embarked on this journey, it was the ‘dolce vita’ feeling I was after.

Can you tell me about your history in eyewear?

My history is more commercial than design oriented. It was a few years ago that I came into contact with a family run company making incredible eyewear, based just outside of Rome. We decided to collaborate on the Safarro project by bringing together the best of both our worlds.

They owned a few factories outside Rome and Milan and had years of experience in eyewear design and manufacturing. I brought to the table years of commercial and marketing experience. This union of strengths has enabled us to play with designs in the factories and give our customers unique shapes that are not available elsewhere. This point of difference and the passion that is put into the creation of the frames is real. 

Furthermore, and really critical, is that they bring with them a new generation of young creative people. This has been wonderful as they challenge us to take up new ideas and ways of doing things. Without this collaboration I would not have been introduced to this sort of talent. I don’t take it for granted at all!

What inspires your eyewear designs?

The philosophy of the brand stems from the influence of Italian elegance, quality and craftsmanship. Our aim is to take classic shapes and modernise them with a twist. Colour plays a very important role in our product development and we study these by attending the major fashion events in Italy. For example, recently our marketing and design team attended the Pitti Fair in Florence – this is the leading trade fair showcasing ready-to-wear clothing and accessories collections for men and women. We take inspiration from these events for our design and, most importantly, our colour palette for the upcoming season. We are fortunate to be based in Rome so following fashion and combining the ‘traditional’ with the ‘new’ is an everyday occurrence for us. We aspire to encase the Italian culture and today’s current fashion trends into our eyewear.

Do you have a typical customer?

Our demographic is roughly 25+ and unisex. Our customers are typically fashionable and very interested in classic and elegant styling. They are connected both online and offline and are ‘expressive’. They appreciate handmade products… our customer is the one who has a favourite leather satchel that acquires beauty and tells a story over time.

Why is this market so attracted to Saffaro?

They choose us for our unique shapes and bold colours.

I refer to the analogy of ‘do you wear the same shoes to go to the gym as you do for a night out?’ Traditionally, our wardrobes have consisted of a choice of shoes, yet our eyewear options have relied on just a single pair. Today people are getting on board with this notion, are more adventurous with their eyewear and are using their frames as an expression of their personality. We are delighted with this movement of customers who are enjoy having a choice of eyewear in their wardrobe. Our goal is to offer these customers that choice and when they try on a Safarro frame, we want them to say ‘this is me and this feels good’.

Is there an iconic ‘Saffaro” style?

We enhance our handmade in Italy heritage by naming all of our frames after Italian villages. This gives the model a name and ‘a meaning’, rather than just a number. It also allows us to use the connection of the model to a village to tell a story. Today when social media is so important, we have interesting information we can share.

Which are your favourite models from the collection?

Two of my favourite models are Ponza and Sperlonga. These models are not only really beautiful and unique, but they also really show off our craftsmanship. The milling down of the materials to get this affect is really wonderful.

Where is Saffaro made?

Safarro is made by artisans in a small village outside of Milan. The product is handmade and the people making them take such pride in their work and are so passionate. Every single piece of our Safarro collection passes through the hands of these amazing individuals. By telling this story, we hope that when customers hold a frame in their hands, they feel personally connected to the person in the small village who created them.

Safarro is distributed in Australia by ProOptics. Contact: (AUS) 02 8007 6041 

' The philosophy of the brand stems from the influence of Italian elegance, quality and craftsmanship '