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Startups

Sunglasses retailer takes aim at Australia

European sunglasses retailer, Hawkers has launched in Australia, aiming to disrupt the local industry with its e-commerce model that sells via social networks.

Hawkers sells designer sunglasses at a retail price of $35-60, in what the brand calls ‘smart value fashion.’

Founded by two brothers and two friends at university in 2014, the brand has sold over 3.5 million glasses and billed $129 million (AUD) – with the brand claiming to be the bestselling product in the history of Amazon Fashion.

The startup has over 4.5 million followers on Facebook, 448K on Instagram and 200K on Twitter – with the likes of DJ Steve Aoki, R&B star Usher and footballer Luis Suárez counted as exponents of the brand.

The pureplay retailer has also collaborated with Mercedes Benz, Playstation, Hard Rock, and is also the official sponsor of the LA Lakers.

Inside Retail recently spoke with David Moreno, co-founder and creative director, as the brand seeks to make inroads to Australia’s sunglasses industry, worth approximately $316 million according to IBISWorld.

Why is Hawkers coming to Australia?

Australia has always been one of the destinations we’ve had marked out on our roadmap. Hawkers is a company that operates as much on emotional impulses, the heart-driven part of the company, as it does data and market analysis. We love Australia, it’s people and culture. Also, when it comes to how Australians interact on social media and digitally, we’ve noticed some highly attractive rates of product engagement and a very positive overall response from potential customers.

What opportunities do you see in the Australian market?

Hawkers is a real alternative to the long-established brands and players who operate under a monopolistic system. We see an opportunity to influence consumer habits. They should no longer be paying above the odds for sunglasses.

We see an opportunity to bring Australia what we’ve been giving over 50 countries globally, affordability. We are able to sell via online only in Australia, avoid any middlemen and keep these costs low. That’s why we can offer sunglasses at between $30 and $60 AUD.

How do you plan to disrupt the Australian market?

Our main challenge is to offer a top-class product at a fair price and to remove any obstacles that might hinder the smooth running of the service we provide or lead to a reduction in quality. This includes aspects such as the user experience, payment gateways, logistics, customer service, etc. As an e-commerce player, if we are able to optimise all those things, we’ll help to popularise the culture of online shopping.

As part of the revolution that we’re in the process of creating, we believe that businesses should communicate in a real way. We’re the first brand to experience a boom based on the use of social media to the extent that we have. And because our customers see truth in what we’re doing, it’s a two-way communication that has helped to convert them into fans.

We’re looking to break the status quo, not just because we want to change the rules or do things differently, but quite simply because we’ve realised that we can bring value.

Where do you plan to be in Australia in the next 12 months?

Our long-term planning doesn’t look beyond next week. The good thing about not having a plan is that it’s difficult for anyone else to anticipate what your next move might be. We usually describe ourselves as being comfortable in chaos. But our goal in Australia is to replicate the model that’s already achieved success in Spain and other European countries.

This story first appeared on our sister site, Inside Retail Australia.

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