In conversation with Nicola Del Din: ten questions to the CEO of Blackfin eyewear.


In conversation with Nicola Del Din: ten questions to the CEO of Blackfin eyewear.
April 24, 2023

In conversation with Nicola Del Din: ten questions to the CEO of Blackfin eyewear.

Optifashion(OF): Welcome Nicola, and thank you for giving us the great opportunity to talk to you about Blackfin.

Let’s start with the first question: one of the great strengths of Blackfin eyewear is the material it is made of: titanium. You were the first in Italy to use this material; how did you connect with the Japanese processing techniques?

Nicola Del Din (NDD): The company's history dates back to the early 1970s, when my mother, who was the 18th employee of Luxottica, had the opportunity to outsource some of the metal eyewear processing. Then she decided to make her own path and, thanks to my father's intuition, who joined her in that adventure, they shifted from metal to titanium. At the time, we were certainly precursors, but even today, we are the only ones in Italy who are able to produce titanium eyewear with high structural complexity. In the 1980s, I decided to travel to Japan for training. Then I acquired machines to work titanium and it was definitely a farsighted choice that allowed us to face Chinese competition. Even today, the titanium we use is made in Japan and it is the best on the market.

OF: Your creed is expressed by the phrase "Looking Beyond. Always." An obvious question comes to mind: what does "looking beyond" mean to you? NDD: Looking beyond, always. Looking beyond the goals, which are actually new starting points. Looking beyond with curiosity, being inspired by what surrounds us: our environment, those wonderful Dolomites - UNESCO World Heritage - that we see from the windows of our headquarters and that the whole world envies us for. But "looking beyond" also means looking beyond those same mountains: not staying only in our shell but also opening up to bring out everything we have learned. There is another term that we have created and that encapsulates our corporate philosophy: NeomadeinItaly, a neologism that represents a different, more refined and fresh way of interpreting the classic "Made in Italy". This term is linked to a production that is not only totally and authentically Italian, but it is also attentive to the people and the environment in which we work.

NDD: Blackfin eyewear has a Nordic influence that can be perceived through their simple and modern design, as well as the use of titanium. How did the idea to follow this stylistic trend come about? NDD: The material lends itself to a very linear, clean, and at times - especially at the beginning - angular processing. Don’t forget that we are a company born in the mountains! The evolution then followed the trends without losing our identity, and by the continuous research that has allowed us to incorporate treatment and coloration details that were previously unthinkable on titanium.

OF: And, speaking about colors, the new "Colourscape" campaign focuses on color selection, a great expressive element that makes titanium glasses absolutely unique. How is the coloring done and how do you choose the colors?

NDD: The new campaign is all about color, our distinguishing feature. The coloring, as well as the entire production process, takes place within our building, in a department that is specialized for this phase. The process is still handmade, thanks to the great skill of our employees who are even able to create two-tone shades, gradients and metallics, something that was never achieved on titanium before.

OF: We also had the chance to see your first capsule, called Highlighter, which seems to have futuristic influences. Where did you get your inspiration from?

NDD: We wanted to create a capsule that, while still maintaining our stylistic identity, followed the latest trends. The Highlighter consists of three classic shapes that we develop with our material and color processing. The name of the collection comes from the fluorescent streak that stands out on the black frame because it resembles a highlighter pen.

OF: Blackfin eyewear is entirely made in your factory, it allows constant monitoring and an accurate attention to the final product. What are the most delicate stages in the making of the eyewear?

NDD: Everything is made within the Black Shelter, the building that we inaugurated last year. I would say that every stage of the production is equally delicate and fundamental for an optimal result. Apart from cutting, all other stages (around 150 in total) involve manual work.

OF: Tell us more about the Black Shelter, your wonderful headquarters in Agordo. A magical place where the modernity of the building fits perfectly with the natural beauty of the area.

NDD: The new headquarters, named Black Shelter, is an extension of the original building which underwent a renovation in 2016. It now houses over a hundred employees, offices and production departments. The headquarters not only represents a container where we manufacture eyewear, but it also becomes a place that physically and architecturally expresses our cultural values, the innovation and the respect that we have for the territory that surrounds us.

OF: How was the transition from being a small company to the growth that occurred over the years?

NDD: We are aware of the hard work we've done to get where we are today (and we're aware that it's not a destination but a new beginning). Above all, I recognize the value of those who helped me get here (especially my partner and CFO Giancarlo Recchia who believed in us when we were really struggling in 2007, but also all the people who work at Blackfin every day). The pandemic had devastating effects worldwide, but our company has been able to face it and overcome this moment very well, and I am sure that this was possible because of the awareness we have of our past. We will not allow anyone to make us forget our values.

OF: In the United Arab Emirates, we are used to seeing mainly big brands, but in recent years independent brands and smaller companies with a strong voice have been increasingly making their way onto the market. Which foreign countries are responding most to the Blackfin brand, and why?

NDD: As long as there are large companies and big brands, there will also be room for independent brands that cater to clients who desire a product with strong intrinsic value, as well as quality and aesthetics. Europe is our primary market, and in addition to Italy where we have a strong presence, the brand is growing significantly throughout the central-northern region of the continent, with Germany leading the way. We have achieved good volumes and distribution levels in North America, with further growth opportunities in the United States. As for other geographic areas, we continue to focus on the quality of local partners who share our vision and strongly believe in our potential. In this context, the United Arab Emirates and the main countries of the region are included. In these areas, thanks to the experience and attention of our partner, we are beginning to see great results in both sales and brand visibility.

OF: One last question: what is currently the greatest strength of Blackfin eyewear?

NDD: We are Blackfin and we will never stop making eyewear with the same passion that has characterized us from the very beginning!