Nicola Del Din

Words Mark Renton


Titanium, technical design, in-house production and a great deal of tenacity are the keys to the success of a brand that is now set to conquer the USA after winning the German challenge

How did the Blackfin adventure come about?
It all started abruptly for me in 1998 when I had to help my mother Maria Luisa and to take over the business of my father who had just passed away. For about ten years, I followed his path working as a subcontractor for large groups. In 2007, when the great global economic crisis hit, all our customers started to strangle us financially, and many of them fled to China to find cheaper suppliers. The fate of the entire Belluno district was sealed. Many companies failed or had to close down, others reinvented themselves. After a period of bewilderment, we began to look around and realised that to survive we could not compete with the Chinese, but we could position ourselves at a
higher level, thanks to our technology and expertise in terms of design which we did not lack. our initial points of reference were brands like Lindberg, Silhouette and Alain Mikli who showed that it was  possible to be competitive at a high level without necessarily being a famous label. Independent brands were emerging and we wanted to join them. We had an important competitive advantage which was to keep all production in-house. This allowed us to make deliveries in three days and guarantee service in two days. This is where Blackfin started, from a deep crisis that became a great opportunity.

How important is the concept of Made in Italy for Blackfin?
For us, it is essential, to the point that we devised a new concept, ‘neomadeinitaly’, to emphasise that the regular Made in Italy is no longer sufficient, and in an increasingly competitive global market is no longer even a guarantee of quality. one needs to have one's own identity consisting of many mosaic pieces, from product to design to customer service in order to be recognised. In particular, ‘neomadeinitaly’ means first of  all concentrating the entire process, from design to logistics, in one facility. It also means having respect for people, not only internal to the company but also external partners, unlike what happened to us in the past. The third aspect concerns the real sustainability of our company, starting with our new headquarters, opened in 2021, the first factory to be awarded the CasaClima energy certification. This is another way in which we want to stand out, going beyond simple green-washing.

What is the secret of your success in the German market?
As Italians, we were initially viewed with some mistrust, but we managed to dispel any preconceptions because we are ‘more german than germans’ in terms of reliability. To be successful abroad you always have to demonstrate an extra something, and we have been able to do this thanks to our stubbornness and constant presence at trade fairs. It is not enough to have a good product; to be credible, you have to validate it year after year and have a network of top-quality, well-established agents in the territory. This is another aspect in which
we have invested a lot. Above all, the more upmarket clients, to whom we aspire to sell, study you for at least three or four years before they start buying. Success for us came in the form of titanium featuring a technical design, while Italians have been historically renowned for coloured acetate. In this respect, having started in 2007, we were the first. Today, germany is the number one market for Blackfin with around 32% of turnover. 

What are the most important new features of this season?

For some years now, we have been presenting our new collections from early January to early August, independently of trade fairs which remain an important commercial showcase for us. We have the power to get our samples ready before others precisely because we have our production in-house and don't have to wait or chase after trade fairs. This season, we are presenting some important innovations within our most successful product families, more than anything else, to confirm our skills in machining and colouring titanium which is our hallmark. In particular, our customers will find even more vivid colours, frames with three colours, and new shapes in the pacific line which we present with a single block of titanium. The most significant change, however, concerns the sales structure, because on 1st March we will open our first  subsidiary in Houston, Texas, to handle all aspects from sales to logistics to service. We will therefore take over the complete management of the uS market directly – until now entrusted to Villa Eyewear.

Will you be presenting any collaborations for the next season?
Unlike other brands, our philosophy has always been to do it ourselves, and we have no intention of engaging in brand collaborations for commercial purposes. Instead, we establish collaborations that are purely product-related such as the one we launched with Barberini for the ‘Airglass’ lens. In this case, we aimed to break down a technical limitation and prove that a titanium frame can support a glass lens, albeit thicker and heavier. In the end, the lens made for us by Barberini weighs only 9 grammes more but offers a multitude of extra quality elements and we are proud to present this project at Mido.

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