A NEW INTERNATIONAL BRAND MADE IN ITALY
Valentina and Gabriel Hernandez founded their Portrait Eyewear company in 2014 in London. Presently they work from Italy and Spain. All products are made in Italy. Find Them on www.portraiteyewear.com
A couple of years ago, Valentina and Gabriel Hernandez – siblings from Venezuela with Italian/Spanish origins, decided to create a design-savvy eyewear brand that could offer a vintage genre revisitation through a contemporary-art approach. A brand that could also follow sustainable and fair-trade practices and was a means to network around emerging artists, promoting their work within a different arena. Coming from backgrounds linked to Photography and Design and being based between Italy, Spain and UK, the team decided to work for a 100% handmade in Italy product that could rescue some in-disuse vintage hand-crafting practices, assuring a fair gap between perceived and real value, from the hand-crafters selection (companies that offer a proper workplace and payment to their employees) to the embraced price-quality ratio. The shapes of their masterpieces recall the vintage outlines with a minimalistic approach: frames are flat, upper rims are colorful and unique, edges are sharp and under-reliefs harmonic. Made with passion and extreme precision PORTRAIT results into a top quality, beautiful eyewear item, as well as into a sustainable-driven meaningful brand. PORTRAIT Eyewear’s slogan, “Frames the Artist in You” puts the brand into the position of the observer, a witness of people’s inner talent that encourages the audience to embrace life with purpose, highlighting their own individuality, instead of following the masses. They have already been featured in Marie Claire Accesories Mexico and Marie Claire Accesories Latin America, Víve Magazine (Austin), PolisArt (Portugal), HELLO! UK, Designboom (Milan), L.A Story, Living & Travel (Mexico), Trendy.Art of living (Poland), Miami Diario, Sin Corriente (Venezuela), Trendy Report (NYC), Elite Traveler (NYC) and others. The news about Portrait ist that since July 2015 can be found in Artsee Miami store, one of the most exclusive eyewear shops in the USA the best international handmade independent eyewear brands. It’s impossible to not to fall in love with their products and philosophy. My interview was register online on July 2015 in a direct connection from Madrid with Gabriel and from Venice with Valentina, met again two months later in Venice. Let’s know them better.
Portrait Eyewear is a family business. How it happened you decided to work together? What are your roles in the firm?
G: We are 4 siblings in total, 2 brothers and 2 sisters. But for some reason the two of us have always shared our professional path, even when based in different countries. We both had design-related experience and arrived to the point of wanting to found a company by ourselves. Nevertheless, designing eyewear was Gabriel’s idea, he was a random vintage eyewear collector and realized he had some shapes in mind he didn’t see around. That was the clue to recognize a market opportunity, followed by the possibility to find the right handcrafters in Italy to make it happen, being established between Northern Italy, Spain and UK.
V: We do have different and clear roles, with Gabriel being mainly in charge of the art-direction and myself, of the marketing management but being on a start-up phase, we very much face the decision-making as a strongly involved team, whoever the responsibility relies on. It has been very enriching and challenging for both.
To this day you have given numerous interviews in international press. What is the philosophy of your success?
G: We believe we are facing a moment in history that claims for sustainable and genuine, meaningful companies. A moment in history where people are tired of being manipulated to buy products and/or services they can’t fully get to know. What’s probably innovative about Portrait Eyewear is that the company works and grows transparently with a true approach. From the product design to the communication and brand, everything is genuine. The product is truly 100% handmade in Italy, the quality is really a top one, the design has totally been followed by us, a brother and sister team with no big companies behind. Talking about the design, it was born after a long research and study of the shapes and not by copying existing ones.
V: Besides the people we are trying to promote for our communication campaign really are emerging artists that we have met by making a deep research that doesn’t necessary follow market trends, wanting to become a means for contemporary art to be spread and communicated. And last, but not least, we have been lucky to find the right people to work with, the credit isn’t all ours, that would be an unfair thing to say, Portrait Eyewear is the result of reuniting true excellence along the whole project development. We have been featured in: Marie Claire Accesories Mexico and Marie Claire Accesories Latin America, Víve Magazine (Austin), PolisArt (Portugal), HELLO! UK, Designboom (Milan), L.A Story, Living & Travel (Mexico), Trendy.Art of living (Poland), Miami Diario, Sin Corriente (Venezuela), Trendy Report (NYC), Elite Traveler (NYC), The Luxonomist (Spain), Limité (NYC), among others.
Tell me more about your artistic past and about your origins. Where were you and who were you before Portrait’s foundation?
G: Together we combine backgrounds related to design and photography. But also to marketing. I have a degree in Film Direction in Madrid and worked as a freelancer photographer for years, specializing mainly in indoors artistic Portrait photograph. While Valentina has a degree in Marketing and Communication as well as a Master Degree in Design, having worked for a multinational advertising agency and subsequently for an Italian Design Studio for years.
V: Other than this academic/ work experience, we were raised in Venezuela and have been living in Europe for the last 10 to 15 years, which has resulted in a mixed background that has probably influenced our view of the market and needs, from the social responsible approach we needed to give to it, to the design charge we wanted it to have.
Why “made in Italy“ is so important and what does it mean for you?
V: Italy has an undeniable design and beauty depth that can’t pass unnoticed when living there. Our love for Italy has been confirmed through years and is strongly related to its historical art and beauty background and everything that it gives to us. Making the product in Italy meant an opportunity to support handcrafting techniques that shouldn’t disappear, a warranty in terms of quality and result, and the possibility to learn from real experts, whit foregoing excellence.
Your first, debut campaign involved in the project various international artists. On the basis of what they have been chosen and what is your next commercial move?
V: Our artists campaign is meant to last. And more than a campaign should be seen as communication philosophy. We have recently been in the US and had the chance to meet and photoshoot news artists to add to our crew. Our idea is to keep adding new and brilliant figures to it, aiming to become a point of reference for contemporary art and to contribute to highlight their talent. These artists have in common being innovative, design-aware, meaningful and having a discrete art trajectory, embracing a lifestyle that coherently appeals to us.
G: Commercially talking, at the beginning we planned to base our business model online, but in time, we realized that selling offline could add value to a product that is worth being touched and “felt” by our customers. Our next move is to be internationally present in very selective optical shops that share our policies and market approach.
How you could describe your product in five words? What is the whole process to obtain so magnificent final art work – glasses by Hernandez?
V: Portrait Eyewear could be described as: Top (1) quality (2) design (3) meaningful (4) eyewear (5)! If you allow us to add a few more words those would be: 100 % Handmade in Italy. The final work is just a natural consequence when putting full passion on the product design and development. The result of pursuing extreme quality and willing to engage the figures involved, towards a common goal. If you notice our slogan claims that Portrait Eyewear “frames the artist in you”.
G: We didn’t want the brand to impose others how to act, but to be put in the position of the observer, an approach that we believe recalls awareness, that is, recognizing beauty and talent around us and in our inherent diversity. This approach starts from the inside, from our team-building… might that be Portrait’s best strength?
NOTA BENE PHOTO GALLERY:
Artists that took part in the first advertising campaign 2014: Emiliano Donaggio, Emma Bennet, Fin Dac, Marco Canevacci and Marcus Wüste, Peter Aurisch (two last are not in the pictures). New faces wearing Portraits in a new campaign 2015 are supermodel Tyson Beckford styled by Ty-Ron Mayes and publicist James Murray posing for Labeling Men Magazine New York styled by Laurean Ossario photographed by Chad Grigg (on the pictures).
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
PORTRAIT – CROWD FUNDING PROJECT