The Victory Optical Collection revives a line of classic American eyewear designs that have been in the same family for four generations. In 1941, company founder Vincent J. Salierno debuted his first collection of Victory eyewear; the early designs launched the company's reputation for innovation, quality and a design sense that appealed to individuals such as Buddy Holly, Dean Martin, Connie Francis, Phil Silvers, Jerry Lewis and other figures in politics, entertainment and fashion. Today, Salierno's grandson William Marfuggi has resurrected Victory's signature look in a line of retro-chic eyewear that is drawing a new clientele of fashion-forward individuals.
When Salierno immigrated to the United States from Italy as a young man, he came with little else beyond a strong work ethic, an impeccable sense of personal style, and a deep desire to make his mark on the world. After working at DuPont, manufacturer of the plastic used in eyeglass frames, Salierno learned the trade by handcrafting optical frames and soon parlayed his craftsmanship and experience into an early business venture. But in 1941, he struck out on his own to start Victory Optical in Newark, New Jersey.
There was soon need to expand, and Salierno invited his two son-in-laws into the business. Together the family trio navigated the company into a position of leadership, producing optical frames and sunglasses and maintaining offices in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Havana, Cuba. The company became one of the first American optical manufacturers to sign designer licenses and worked with Geoffrey Beene, one of the leading clothing designers of his time. At its peak, Victory was producing 10,000 frames a day with 300 employees.
Sixteen years after Salierno's passing, the company ceased production but family members remained in the industry and watched fashion cycle back to the classic look that put Victory on the map.
"I kept seeing the influence of retro-styling emerge in fashion, movies, cars and furniture," said grandson William Marfuggi. "As I styled product for other companies I kept returning to our family archive of catalogues and frames for inspiration … I realized the time was right to put the classic designs of my grandfather and father back into production."
The company will faithfully reproduce the most successful optical designs from the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s in its Victory Heritage collection. A second line of optical frames inspired by the original designs will become the Victory Inspired collection. Victory also has a line of Suntimers sunglasses.
William Marfuggi has spent his professional life in the eyewear business. As a young boy, he visited the factory on weekends with his father and began his apprenticeship under the watchful eye of his grandfather. Marfuggi has since worked in design, manufacturing, retail sales, importing and marketing. As company president, he relies on the family’s fourth generation, his two children Will and Cristina, for their continued counsel about what resonates with today’s young professionals. Most recently in early 2014, William brought Cristina on as the Director of Operations, further continuing the family tradition.
Vincent Salierno was generous with his time and success, and he was active in local civic organizations and sponsored an orphanage and hospital in Italy. After his death, The Vincent Salierno Scholarship was set up through the American Optometric Foundation and the American Academy of Optometry. Over one hundred deserving optometric students have benefitted.
Victory Optical's founder was a charismatic man who loved life, his family and his business—as well as beautiful boats and a good cigar. His family will continue his legacy, inspired by the work ethic and great personal style Salierno used to build an enduring brand.