February 24, 2022
Andrea Vigano' and Fabio Attanasio, Co-Founders, TBD Eyewear
Founded in 2014, TBD Eyewear has stayed true to its artisan roots despite its success. With a focus on timeless and artisan designs, the next step is to ramp up its eco-friendly offerings. As the company continues its expansion, co-founders Fabio Attanasio and Andrea Vigano' tell 20/20 Europe what’s in the pipeline, how its sustainability efforts are evolving and where the brand is headed in the coming years.
Q: The first order you made for TBD was made up of 21 pairs of glasses, this year you managed to sell over 10.000. Which would you say have been the five most remarkable moments of the brand’s evolution since inception?
A: Without any doubt, having focused from the beginning on the search for quality through the best Italian craftsmanship, both for the creation of the design and the research of materials. This is certainly the first key milestone. The second one was identifying an opportunity in the digital world and, through a modern approach, building effective communication towards our target by benefiting from social media and contextualising the brand and our products within a specific lifestyle, a complete universe strengthened by participation in trade fairs such as Pitti and communicating through ambassadors and influencers, first in the world of Menswear and then Womenswear. Having a sustainable price compared to the rest of the market has also been very important. Last but not least, having understood the value of the optics sector by participating in MIDO already in 2018, making us in 2020 one of the first optics brands to focus on sustainability by using Italian bio-acetate sheets.
Q: Craftsmanship is deeply rooted in the brand’s identity. How do you think the emphasis on Italian craftsmanship has contributed to the success of the collections?
A: Without artisanal manufacturing, we would have never successfully conquered the niche market of our targeted audience. We appeal to true connoisseurs, who appreciate the intrinsic quality of eyewear. In addition to the value of Italian excellence - we should remember that Italy is the leading country in the production of high-quality eyewear - the communication strategy has naturally followed this approach, reinforcing the brand concept: Made in Italy, in Italy. If we also consider our constant commitment to the search for an ethical approach, the creation of durable eyewear also makes it sustainable right from the beginning.
\\ Earth Bio collection by TBD Eyewear - the frames are made from Bio Acetate
Q: TBD Eyewear’s signature shapes and vintage feel are representative of the brand, with some styles bringing us back to the early to mid 20th century. What about this era inspires your designs?
A: We draw inspiration from iconic vintage collections because, as we believe deeply in the concepts of sustainability and the philosophy of buying less and better, we don't follow fashion trends and we recognize the value of design that built today's modernism. For example, our Shetland is inspired by John Lennon, the Pleat by James Dean which are absolutely two timeless style icons. We want to offer a high-quality, long-lasting product that isn't influenced by a passing trend.
Q: The brand was born in 2014 but has since released over 20 different styles. If you had to choose one style to wear for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
A: The Cran. Because of its sentimental value, as it was the first model we launched; because of its historical relevance, as it is a model that has been evolving its design throughout the last century and that we wanted to reinterpret in our own way; and because of its versatility in combining formal and informal.
Q: Where did the idea of naming the sunglasses and glasses models after bespoke tailoring originate? Does this industry influence the creative process behind each frame? How?
A: We started as a men's brand that over the years evolved into a unisex brand. The idea was to connect the prestige of sartorial fabrics with the names of high-quality frames.
Panama Eco by TBD - in a classic Havana
The transition to bio-acetate has pushed us to evolve the naming of the products towards fibres just as valuable, but sustainable.
Q: So far, TBD Eyewear has launched sustainable collections made of bio-acetate. Are you currently exploring any new eco-friendly materials? What are your main priorities when choosing the best “green” materials?
A: In 2020, we have introduced bio-acetate for the realisation of our collections, this year we have made our packaging more sustainable. We are steadily increasing our bio-acetate collections and aim for the ambitious goal of having a complete sustainable production by 2023. At this moment, we are concentrating our efforts on the research of sustainable lenses in order to have a comprehensive concept of eyewear. The idea that drives us in our research is to choose materials that have less and less impact on the environment, by cooperating with suppliers who share our vision, aiming toward the ideal of zero impact.
Q: What is on the pipeline for the next 12 months? Can you give us an overview of what’s coming in the new launch front? Will you be displaying any fresh models at MIDO?
A: The most recent collections - all ECO - are Juta, Raso, and Lino, which reflect the value of fabrics from the point of view of sustainability. We have also introduced new lens colours, with orange and blue tints and 100% sustainable and certified packaging. In the future, we foresee many collaborations with important companies such as Marinella and Breitling, which are always sustainable. We also have several collaborations in the making with designers from the world of interiors, art and architecture....
\\ Eco-friendly frames in a natural ocean-inspired colour palette
Q: Looking into the next five to ten years, what would you say are your goals from a business, design and sustainability perspective?
A: Sustainability and zero impact, continuing our growth in the optics channel through specialised distributors in Europe, the USA, and Asia as far as foreign countries are concerned and undoubtedly by strengthening the network of agents and distributors in Italy. We also have several collaborations in the making with designers from the world of interiors, art, and architecture for example, who can give added value to the brand while remaining true to our nature: timeless but contemporary!