It's a Guy Thing

Throwing Shades


For many people in the world, their pair of sunglasses are more valuable than their cell phone, wallet and in extreme cases their children, but for one man, sunglasses means the world. From an orphaned Italian boy to one of the most successful Italian businessmen ever, the story of Leonardo Del Vecchio rise is truly a fascinating look at how the world can try it’s best to keep you down but with true perseverance anything can be achieved.


Born to an impoverished family on the 22nd of May 1935 in Milan, Leonardo Del Vecchio faced a tough child before he was even born. Del Vecchio’s father passed away five month before he was born, and due to their impoverished stature his mother tried her best to look after the young boy, yet at the age of seven she had no choice but to send him to an orphanage as he would have a better chance of surviving there than dying of hunger under her care. Understandably living in an orphanage was tough on Del Vecchio and at the age of 14 he had no choice but to find work and carve out a life for himself on the streets of Milan. He eventually found work as an apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan, an opportunity he still fondly looks back to even to this day. He found he had a knack for metalworking and flourished under his new found passion. He would continue working for the tool and die maker for many years, fine tuning his skill and learning everything he can. At the age of 19 he decided he needed to further his knowledge and started taking evening classes to study industrial engineering, all while supporting his impoverished family. It was here however that Del Vecchio became fascinated with glasses and frames and decided to turn his metalworking skills to making spectacle parts. Eventually the passion outgrew his current standing and in 1961 he decided to move to Agordo in the province of Belluno, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry. Once there, Del Vecchio opened his own workshop making metal components and other semi-finished products used to make eyeglass frames. In 1967, Leonardo took the decision to enter the glasses assembly business. He now had 6 years of experience but it was not easy due to fierce competition. Expanding his work, Leonardo found his own company, Luxottica. By the end of the 1960s, Del Vecchio had expanded the group into a full-fledged manufacturer, capable of producing a set of frames from start to finish.Luxottica’s first collection of optical frames was introduced in 1971 and a very proud Del Vecchio was confident that his new company’s frames were the best in the world. And his confidence was well placed  as after 5 years Luxottica sold to a wide array of wholesale dealers across the world. Many would have been happy with that, yet Del Vecchio knew there was more to come from his company and only selling to wholesale dealers would eventually be a dead end for the growth of his business. Always future facing, Del Vecchio made his move and acquired Turin-based distributor Scarrone, Luxottica’s first step toward vertical integration. The chairman then turned his focus to international expansion, establishing subsidiaries in such markets as Germany and the U.S. Using extensive research, the brand went on to become the market leader. 


There was no looking back now as Del Vecchio’s effective strategies helped him in developing a successful sales network across the globe, staging Luxottica as the go to brand for eyeglass manufacturing. Leonardo’s futuristic approach, timely decisions and strategies helped Luxottica to have full control and take over every stage of the eye glass manufacturing process. The Luxottica group now also began acquisitions in areas of distribution and retail. Toward the end of the 1980s, Del Vecchio saw a massive gap in the market with the rise of the fashion conscious accessorising, he instantly looked into how best to incorporate it into his own company and beat out the competition in one giant swoop. Luxottica started capitalizing on fashion designers’ emerging interest in accessories. Luxottica signed a licensing pact with Giorgio Armani in 1988 which turned out to be a massive coup for the world famous eyeglass makers. Not one to rest on his laurels, Del Vecchio soon signed similar deals with Bulgari, Chanel, Prada, Versace and Donna Karan, monopolising the fashion district before his competitors even had a chance to glance at it. Luxottica’s stable of businesses grew exponentially over the coming decade and now also included retail chains such as LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Ilori in North America and Sunglass Hut worldwide, as well as such brands as Ray-Ban, Persol, Vogue Eyewear and Oakley, which he bought for $2.1 billion in 2007. Chief Executive Officer Andrea Guerra stepped down in September 2014, following disagreements with Del Vecchio on the future strategy and direction of the company. His successor, Enrico Cavatorta, left a month later, and Del Vecchio took over as interim CEO.

During the past decade, Del Vecchio has expanded his publicly traded assets to include investments in Fonciere des Regions, a French real estate fund, and the Italian bank UniCredit. He is the largest single shareholder in Italian insurer, Assicurazioni Generali, and led a successful effort to remove the company’s CEO, Giovanni Perissinotto, in June 2012. The billionaire lives in Milan with his wife, Nicoletta, with whom he has one child. He has five other children with two previous wives. His eldest son, Claudio, led Luxottica’s wholesale and optical retail expansion in North America until 2000. He left the company to acquire Brooks Brothers and has since been its chairman and CEO.

An Italian orphan struggling to make ends meet went from basic metal workings to becoming one of the biggest power players in the fashion world.Ranked 50th on the Forbes global fortune list, Leonardo Del Vecchio is the wealthiest man in Italy. He single handedly created the world’s leading company in the development, production marketing and distribution of glasses. a. They make their own glasses and are world leaders in the eyeglasses industry. The orphan turned self made successful businessman, Leonardo Del Vecchio boasts a net worth of $25 billion as of 2020.

The Luxottica Legacy

Luxottica is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Its portfolio includes proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette, Costa del Mar and Alain Mikli, as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Versace.

Luxottica’s international expansion has developed its geographic footprint worldwide. The Group’s global wholesale distribution network covers more than 150 countries across five continents and is complemented by an extensive retail network of approximately 9,200 stores, with LensCrafters and Pearle Vision in North America, OPSM and Laubman & Pank in Australia and New Zealand, Spectacle Hut in Singapore, GMO and Óticas Carol in Latin America, Salmoiraghi&Viganò in Italy and Sunglass Hut worldwide.

One of the group’s competitive advantages is the vertically integrated business model built over the years, covering the entire value chain: design, product development, manufacturing, logistics and distribution.

Product design, development and manufacturing take place in Luxottica’s seven manufacturing facilities located in Italy, one facility in Germany, three facilities in China, one in Brazil and one facility in the United States devoted to sports and performance eyewear. Luxottica also has two small plants in Japan and India serving the local market. 

Luxottica also has produced sun and ophthalmic lenses for more than 20 years. The company has increased its manufacturing capacity with the recent addition of three new laboratories in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific which are completely integrated with its logistics hubs.


  • With about 80,000 employees worldwide, Luxottica ended 2019 with net sales of over 9 billion euro (10,2 dollars).
  • Luxottica was founded in Agordo in 1961.
  • Their global headquarters is situated in Milan.
  • They have 15 manufacturing facilities and approximately 9,200 retail stores.