Interview & Images: Darrel Hunter
Walking around the Pitti Immagine Uomo 83 event among all the beautiful fabrics, classic cuts, there will surely be a few innovative ideas that stand out and capture your attention.
Walking past the Shwood stand something different captured my attention and compelled me to stop for a closer look. Whilst there I managed to grab a few minutes with marketing director Dan Genco to find out more about this unique brand.
Modehunter: First of all could you tell me a bit about Shwood and what it is exactly that Shwood does?
Dan Genco: Well we are the original wooden sunglasses company started four years ago. We make handmade wooden eyewear from Portland Oregon USA. All of the wood comes from sustainable source hardwoods from around the world. We use Carl Zeiss Italian lenses and everything is handcrafted and put together in the USA.
MH: Wooden sunglasses is quite a niche, so what inspired you to start creating such a unique accessory?
DG: The founder Eric Singer is a furniture designer who had spent the majority of his life making furniture but he also loved classic eyewear. One day he saw a tree branch that he thought would look good so he started carving, just like you would whittle a pair of sunglasses. I then met Eric a year later whilst he was wearing his wooden carved sunglasses so we started speaking and put together the brand identity.
MH: So Eric Singer was the designer behind the idea and you brought together the marketing and sales?
DG: That’s correct.
MH: Since the development of the brand have you branched outside of the US or are you mainly focused on America?
DG: We have one hundred-twenty boutiques in the United States, we are big in Japan, Australia and Canada. We are just now starting to take off in Italy as we have a handful of stores over here. Being at Pitti is essential as we realise that the Italian market is very important for eyewear. We also have distribution in Scandinavia and we are trying to grow in Europe now.
MH: Aside from sunglasses are there other areas that you would like to see the company venture into?
DG: We have a lot of ideas to work on but for the next few years it would be best to grow eyewear and push that as much as possible before branching into other sectors. We would look to be the best eyewear brand in the USA then bring our line out further. I have another brand which makes wooden iPhone cases but that is separate.
MH: So you are pretty much choosing to stay with the wooden idea?
DG: Pretty much but Shwood lives by the motto “Experiment with nature.” Life is an experiment and we believe that you have these objects that can be made of natural materials. Right now it is wood, but in the future there will be all sorts of different concepts that come out that we are excited to bring forward.
For stockist information and to see the full collection visit www.shwoodshop.com