MILAN — As an industry dominated by large groups that generate the bulk of their revenues from licensing deals inked with notable luxury brands, eyewear has left little space for independent players.
Those that did succeed have had to play by a different rulebook to keep up with the competition.
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One such case is Unique Design Milano, or UDM, a real start-up case study established by Stefano Romanelli and Mattia Colleoni during the pair’s academic years.
Stemming from a university assignment centered on Made in Italy whereby Romanelli was tasked with developing an eyewear brand, UDM has turned into a 700,000-euro business in the span of five years, including the pandemic-scuppered 2020 and 2021. It has won over some celebrities, including Arian Moayed, Jessica Chastain, Dree Hemingway, Hilaria Baldwin and Zac Posen.
“We are real outsiders. Most often independent [eyewear] brands are launched by people already part