Fashion, performance, and sustainability: those are the principles behind Coral Eyewear, one of the newest brands to sign up on the Alvio platform. They have really hit the ground running, too – having already formed multiple exciting partnerships with other users through their Coral Eyewear profile on Alvio

This week, we thought it would be interesting to take a look behind the scenes, and find out more about Coral Eyewear. We chatted to founder George Bailey, about Coral’s origins, their mission, and their future. Here’s what he had to say.

A Conversation with Coral Eyewear

A conversation with George Bailey of Coral Eyewear

So George, tell us how Coral Eyewear started out.

The business has been going for about four years now. My dad Calvin and I set up the business while I was at university. And I guess the origins for the brand really came from witnessing first-hand product demand, and realising that there were just no suppliers fulfilling it. 

So both my parents have always worked in and around opticians, and over the last three years, they had seen more and more people – customers – coming in asking for something green, something recycled, something sustainable.

This was amazing, because it showed that the public were starting to drive change – in terms of the materials that they wanted to buy. But back then there wasn’t any product to fill that gap on the shelf – nothing that took the sustainability, that recycled story, and combined it with great aesthetics, technical performance messaging… and ultimately, something that people would feel comfortable wearing day to day. 

So our brand really grew from that challenge: customers literally walking into the store and demanding something that didn’t exist yet.

What about Coral Eyewear’s products? What was the journey that brought those ideas to life?

We originally tested with a couple of different products. For example, we tested with pure recycled plastic bottles… but we found this was a little too brittle, and snapped too easily. So we went back to the drawing board. We then discovered the properties of fishing nets, and found that this was an amazing material in terms of strength – because by design, for its use in the ocean, it's meant to be strong enough to hold anything that gets caught in it. And as over 600,000 tonnes of fishing gear is thought to be discarded in our oceans at present, finding new uses for this material seemed like a very worthwhile project.

So we first started testing with 100% recycled fishing nets. But what we found over time, was that the colour and the material strength started to fade a little bit. So the end product that we came to is still utilising that fishing net material, and taking salvaged materials from the ocean and from landfill, but then combining it with other waste nylon. So, things like carpet waste, and other post-consumer plastics… just to add a little more strength and rigidity to it.

We worked with our partner [sustainable textile company] Aquafil, on a product called ECONYL… which I think before we'd done it, certainly in the UK, had only been a nylon yarn used for clothing. We were the first partner in the UK to solidify that, and make it a little bit stronger for use in our products.

Coral Eyewear on Alvio.

Since then, the Coral Eyewear brand seems to have gone from strength to strength. Can you give us an idea how the business is doing?

In terms of store front, we've now got about 120 high street stockists in the UK. It’s really great to have that high street presence, making our products accessible for people within a couple of miles of home. Additionally, we’re then shipping to UK, US and European addresses, sending sunglasses directly to our customers. 

The eyewear industry is a little bit different to general fashion. The fashion industry is around 40-45% now – for clothing that is bought online. Whereas for eyewear it’s much lower, closer to the 10-15% mark. That’s because of prescriptions, but also, people just really want to try on glasses and see the frames on, because face shapes vary so much. 

So that's the first barrier. But of the purchases conducted online, it is affiliate, or influencer- and partnership-led material that is generally driving all sales. So this has become part of our strategy: working with sports teams, and athletes that people love and respect, and using their voices to drive positive change for the sustainability story.

Coral Eyewear seems to have found a natural home in the world of sports. Can you tell us some more about the teams you’re working with?

So for example, we're working across cricket – we've got a partnership with Kent Cricket Club, who won the T20 Blast in 2021. In motorsport, we're working with Formula E teams like Mahindra Racing, which has led to a deal in Formula One with Williams. We have also just signed a deal to become the official supplier to the Team GB cycling team.

It’s all very exciting. All these brand partnerships are helpful to us, in terms of our own brand awareness and recognition. But to actually have our products out there in use on the track or field… that’s just perfect.

Coral Eyewear is the perfect partnership for sporting brands.

What would you say is the main appeal of Coral Eyewear? Is there generally a higher demand for sustainable products these days?

I think people are definitely more receptive, and attracted to working with brands that have sustainability at the heart of everything they do. But then, we also have to make sure the product stacks up on an aesthetic, and performance basis. 

Performance is especially important for athletes, and if they’re using our products in their day job, they're naturally going to be looking for any kind of marginal gain. So we are trying to balance that performance perspective, alongside our sustainability story.

What comes next for Coral Eyewear?

From a wholesale perspective, we want to continue growing the number of stores making Coral Eyewear available. That means widening our reach in the UK, but then also expanding to key markets like Australia, Europe, and America. From a storytelling perspective, we want to become the go-to name in the industry for driving change, and for doing things a little bit differently. The world of sport, and the partnerships that Alvio is going to allow us to unlock, will be a huge part in that journey.

Coral Eyewear offers high performance products with a sustainability ethos.

Tell us more about your experience with the Alvio platform. What has that journey been like so far?

We launched on the Alvio platform last week. The beauty of Alvio, for us as a brand, is that it removes various barriers to entry – for partners and brands who are looking to add sunglasses as an accessory, maybe even to their core range. 

One of the exciting things about getting involved with Alvio is how our partnership strategy has been really developing over the last 12 months, to encompass sports teams.

So for example, for cycling teams, maybe the apparel or the bikes themselves are the key revenue driver for now. But by partnering with us through Alvio they’re able to unlock sunglasses as an additional category, without them having to commit to stock – which is often quite laborious and adds additional costs. 

For us, this flexibility makes the journey even more efficient, because it allows us to test out stockists with the Coral range. So this is something that we're speaking with a lot of partners about: testing with the Coral range, initially, and seeing how they sell over the first couple of months. Once that demand is proven – which we expect it will be, because we believe in the product – then quite often these partners will be looking to then sign up to create their own ranges, selling our products with their own branding on top.

Who is Coral Eyewear looking to partner with next on Alvio?

We're looking to expand the range of sports that we're catering to. Cricket teams, and cycling teams, have already shown a massive interest – and we're excited to see where those conversations go, particularly on the back of our latest British Cycling announcement. 

But also, I think there's a great opportunity to keep telling that sustainability story with coastal brands. So things like paddle boards, surfing… and really tapping into that coastal culture, where sustainability is already a major conversation. I think Coral Eyewear is likely to be a perfect fit for that world.

In general though, we're really excited about the opportunities here with Alvio, and we've already got a lot of conversations ongoing.

Coral Eyewear combines fashion, performance and sustainability.

Find Out More About Coral Eyewear on Alvio

We would like to thank George Bailey, and Coral Eyewear, for taking the time to have this fascinating chat with us. The Coral Eyewear brand – with its winning combination of sustainability, aesthetics and performance – really seems to be turning heads at the moment, and we can’t wait to see what they do next. We expect big things!

If you want to know more, check out Coral Eyewear on Alvio – right now they’re looking to partner with new stockists for their products, and other partners who share their sustainability ethos. You can become part of that journey too! Just drop us a line, or sign up for your own Alvio profile now to get started.


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