“Look Up!” A Conversation with Susan Moniello of Marchon Eyewear
posted by Chloe Garcia and Claire Charlton
This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by LIM students with winners of the Accessories Council’s 2019 Design Excellence Awards (DEA). Students are enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Professor Andrea Kennedy's Introduction to the Fashion Business class.
“Don’t focus on looking down; look up!” said Susan Moniello, Vice President of Product Development for Marchon Eyewear, when discussing how her company focuses on the world around them to satisfy customers. We interviewed Moniello to discuss Marchon winning an Accessories Council Design Excellence Award. In doing so, we learned that when approaching the creation of a new product, in this case a license deal with Chloé, Marchon likes to ask their customers what makes them feel good. As Moniello expressed, “Fashion is about emotion.” Therefore, Marchon works closely with their licensees to make sure the message of their brand comes through in the product, while also helping to ensure that Marchon’s customer feels great in what they’re wearing.
We had the opportunity to learn more about Marchon and interview Moniello at their New York City office. There, she discussed their award-winning Chloé Curtis sunglasses. The sunglasses were based off the Chloé jewelry line, which is fluid, sensual, and feminine, but also has an organic and effortless feel to it, according to Moniello. To produce the sunglasses, Moniello worked closely with Marchon’s Italian designers and the Creative Director of Chloé. While the Chloé website only carries two color variations of the sunglasses, typically four to five different color variations are created. The color palette is driven by the licensor, so the product includes the spirit of the brand. A “harmonious contrast of texture and hues,” like warm sandy shades and gradient lenses are used to stay authentic to the Chloé brand. Since Chloé aims to represent grace and effortlessness, frames are bold in shape and proportion, but constructed to look light. The use of hardware is also carefully thought out to give the sunglasses a “jewelry-like feel.”
Since Moniello has been with Marchon for almost two decades, we asked what led her to stay with the company for so long. She plainly said, “I love the people I work with.” She previously worked in footwear for many years and was convinced she was going to continue on that path, but she grew interested in starting something new and making the transition into a different fashion field. When starting at Marchon, she felt welcomed by her coworkers: “I’ve learned so much here, and I feel that the people are what make your experience at a company.” Her coworkers continue to motivate her and make her want to give 100-plus percent every day. She works hard because she not only wants herself to succeed, but to see her coworkers succeed as well. “If I did not have the support of the people that work here, it wouldn’t be fun.”
Although Marchon is a fashion eyewear company, one of its missions is to help people see better. Moniello explains that just because glasses are a medical device doesn’t mean people can’t feel good about them. Marchon aims to help fix medical issues while also helping their customers feel confident about themselves. The company is also making steps towards sustainability. Moniello told us, “Eyewear is an industry that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years,” so Marchon is working with vendors, suppliers, and research and development to find new materials that can resemble the plastics they use but are better for the environment. Being a healthcare company, this is important, as Marchon wants to take care of the planet as well.
Lastly, Moniello explained that, when she first entered the business, she wished she understood that “It’s okay to not know everything; it’s okay to feel nervous sometimes; it’s okay to feel like I don’t want to open my mouth. But what’s not okay is to just sit there and not try to experience and learn.” She has learned that, when being part of a team, it is better to “take more risks” and “speak” because “what’s bad is when you don’t have ideas.” Her advice for anyone going into the industry would be to do exactly that: take risks, speak up, and offer ideas.
Overall, Marchon is very deserving of the Accessories Council’s design award for the eyewear-sun category, not only for the spectacular design of the Chloé sunglasses, but for everything they are doing as a company. They try to home in on what makes a brand and use every aspect of the licensee brand’s essence to create a beautiful product. They also are making strides towards changing the game by looking for new, sustainable materials to craft eyewear out of. Finally, they make sure their customers can not only see, but feel good about themselves in the product they’re wearing. It was an amazing opportunity to meet with Susan Moniello. She gave us so much insight on the industry and emphasized the importance on paying attention to your surroundings.