The sunglasses and ski goggles factory turns 90: an accomplishment that few names in the industry can boast.
Be 90 and not feeling it! Yet, 2009 is a landmark celebration year for Salice, the ski-goggles and sunglasses factory founded by Vitaliano in 1919, the grandfather to the family’s third generation and first woman CEO of the Lake Como Gravedona-based company, Anna Salice.
Being 100% Italian is paramount for a brand like Salice: not only all the products bear the colours of the Italian flag which make them immediately distinguishable and recognizable now and over the years, but also the entire manufacturing process is carried out in Italy to keep quality at the top.
At the outset, in 1919, Vitaliano Salice founded a factory to produce sunglasses cases and later protective screens for industrial use sold to the marble quarries workers in Musso – the village where the corporate first headquarters were located – since they were constantly exposed to the risk of losing their sight.
In 1945, the factory and headquarters were moved just a few miles away from Musso to Gravedona which is still Salice’s current main location and home to the family.
During the Second World War, Salice produced military sunglasses for the army, and after the war ended, Salice launched its bikers collection.
In the Fifties, the advent of Vespa and Lambretta overturned the habits of the Italians and both bikes became increasingly popular which made sunglasses a blast. It was exactly in those years that sunglasses became a fashionable and must-have item, and the whole Salice production was finally focused on them.
In the Sixties, skiing was not yet a much popular sport although things were changing fast. Once again, much farsighted, Salice anticipated the trends and began producing ski goggles.
In the Seventies, the Italian team, the athletes of the “Valanga Azzurra”, boomed in the Skiing World Cup competitions. Thoeni and team-mates Gros, De Chiesa, Stricker, just to quote a few, were the unchallenged Maestros on the ski slopes. Italy was always top ranking and the Italian athletes were always on the podium, always wearing goggles with Italian flag colours on the straps or on the arms of their sunglasses.
In the Eighties, the Italian fashion industry became the worldwide leader with its countless collections: those were the years of shop-until-you-drop, the Yuppies and the Milan-born Paninari, the spoiled teens who dictated fashion rules definitely not easy to forget. Sunglasses were no exception with the awesome “article 38 by Salice” that was their hit in all possible shades of the colour palette.
In 1987, Anna Salice’s fresh approach and already skilled farsightedness – she had indeed just joined the company – helped her score her first long-lasting win: at ISPO, the yearly Winter Sports Trade Exhibition held in Munich, Anna Salice saw an American booth with a single pair of sunglasses under a spotlight. The brand name was Oakley and she decided to import these sunglasses in Italy. The cooperation lasted until 1993, when the American brand that over the years became a giant, opened its own headquarters in Europe. This proves one point: when one is in one’s own trade since many generations, one can grasp the bargain and rate the quality of an item just in a blink of an eye and, most of all, can make the most of the opportunities a market can offer.
In the late 1990s, vintage fashion takes over with countless old and still beautiful items dated some 20 years back. Also within the walls of the Gravedona-based company, everyone is into “replicas”. An endeavour soon crowned with success: people simply love the quality of a “made in Italy” product as well as the approach of keeping an Italian identity while others are running Eastward. As stubborn an approach as it may seem, one reaps its benefits in terms of sales too, with over 5 million € made with a staff of 47, all based in Gravedona.
The entire working team is young and dynamic and the power of the products lies in the right mix between quality and price as well as a strong cooperation with Salice’s dealers, who can count on timely deliveries and a fully compliant corporate interface.
“Made from sports” is the jingle of Salice’s latest advertising campaign: a rather provocative and yet clear-cut statement. Also a recollection of the many athletes who wear products made by Salice during their competitions: downhill, cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, road bicycle racing, motocross, skiroll, kite-surfing, enduro, supermoto and MTB.
Some of Salice’s sponsored athletes include Renato Pasini, Simone Origone, Antonio Rossi, Alessandro Petacchi, Chicco Chiodi, Massimo Beltrami. This simply translates the team spirit that has lead the Salice Group through 3 generations of family management and 90 years in business.
Many happy returns!