Eyewear indie Kirk & Kirk predicts explosive growth, plans store expansion
British indie eyewear brand Kirk & Kirk is targeting fast growth and has announced “major expansion plans after a boom in demand following the pandemic”.
It’s set to open its first pop-up store in September, in London’s Shoreditch, and then open half a dozen stores next spring across the UK while also identifying opportunities abroad.
The celebrity-loved label that specialises in ultra-lightweight acrylic hand-made frames is riding the wave of the large/colourful frame trend and said it has seen impressive growth in recent years.
It explained that “demand for quality glasses rocketed during the pandemic because in a world of Zoom and FaceTime, glasses became the visual focus of the conversation. One of the few opportunities for sartorial expression”.
As a result, during the first year of lockdowns, its sales grew 42% and this year it’s predicting growth of 30% having expanded its UK stockist base from 20 retailers as recently as 2018 to almost 100 at present.
Having opened stockists a week worldwide since 2019, it’s now sold in 40 countries in independent opticians. Its growth is also being helped now by its “heavy” investment in, and recent launch of, virtual try-on technology, “allowing the business to stand apart from others”.
The company sees this new tech as “a game-changer. For the first time, customers will be able to experience a live try on – with no need for a separate app or to download a photo”.
Virtual try-on technology has been a major feature of many eyewear websites in recent years, but there are limits to how good the results are. The ability of the technology to properly replicate the experience of trying on frames physically isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
But we’re told this new system has been “uniquely developed by tech engineers who honed their experience in the gaming world and hand-built scanning machines to bring Kirk & Kirk acrylic frames to life on screen. The virtual try-on captures the true light transmission of acrylic eyewear ensuring that the light and colour moves on screen as it would in real life, creating an exceptionally accurate and high-quality online experience”.
Company co-founder Jason Kirk said: “The business has grown because the demand has increased due to what happened in the lockdown. People needed positivity and excitement wherever they could find it and when you can enjoy something that you put on every day, it becomes emotionally valuable.”
The business has also focused on social media marketing that it said “allows us to discover independent stores and brands from all over the world and opens up huge possibilities for the consumer”.
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