Paulino Spectacles, Portugal
1st October 2013 We first met founder of Paulino Spectacles, Ramiro Paulino, in London around this time last year. Since then we have been delighted to see their fantastic progress into international specialist stores, and so we asked to catch up with Ramiro and colleague John in Paris just a few days ago….
From what we see, Paulino Spectacles is growing quickly. How is everything going? The feedback we have been having has been beyond expectation, and things have moved very quickly for us. As a new, small independent brand the idea was to take things one step at a time, but without any major marketing strategy our frames are now available in London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Oviedo, Lisbon and Porto. The collections will also be available further afield very soon…..we are delighted to have a new distribution coming up in Asia.
You continue to concentrate on handcrafting and traditional spectacle making techniques using exclusive, very elegant acetate? My aim is to go against the grain of mass production, and continue my grandfather’s traditions. Every frame we make is produced in the only remaining factory of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula. With not one single computer in sight, the frames are tooled by hand using very fine organic acetate from Mazzucchelli. We insist on a level of finish that matches our vision and design qualities.
This production process is arduous and takes several days. From the hand made tools that start off the production process – using rasps, saws and files – through to the manually operated pantograph that cuts our frames, one by one, to the tumbling – a process that takes at least 48 hours – which smooths the surface and prepares the frame for hand polishing. We use vintage pins on the hinges, some of which are over 30 years old. This gives me great pleasure and a certain sadness at the same time, as one day they will run out. In any event, it all takes time and makes for a high-end product. I really believe the end result is worth it – frames with their own unique personality and comfort, which mass production can never match in terms of that hand finished quality.
Explain when you are launching your collections each year – you have a slightly different concept in mind I think? My idea is not to launch collections as such but to release new models throughout the year. We have just launched a new model this September and for October, we are on track to release three new models and three further ones before the end of the year. We are also looking to increase our range by launching our first metal frames within the first part of 2014. So we’re pretty busy on the launch front.
Where are your biggest successes so far? Which styles have been a hit? The Alberto, Martim and Sara models were the first models to come out and they have been the bestselling ones overall. Since it came out in February, there has also been a lot of interest in our Filipa model. Though vintage and feminine, it is very up-to-date. It was also a pleasure for me to design it. I was inspired by a model Jacqueline Bisset wore in 1973. It was a metal model and what caught my eye was the ring/circle over the bridge. I ended up designing “Filipa” which is a cateye of course, but differentiated by having the open ring in the bridge.
Could you explain about the cork you use for the accessories cases? Is it sourced locally in Portugal? Yes, the cork is a local product. The idea for the accessories is, of course, to match the quality and philosophy of the frames – handcrafted and made by artisans using old fashioned tools. Cork was a natural starting point for us, as it is very much a Portuguese product and it is organic. Even here, though, we are looking to try new things. We already have in place a new material that we’ll start using this month – Burel, also a 100% Portuguese product made from natural wool. The factory is located in the “Serra da Estrela” (Star Mountain – Portugal’s highest point) and is also made in the traditional handcrafted way. My idea is always to look at the possibility of adding new natural products that are unique to our country and that fit with the Paulino philosophy.
What do you expect in 2014 or what are your hopes for Paulino Spectacles? I expect and hope to consolidate on the very fast paced 2013, so to speak. And I have an idea to add a metal collection soon. As mentioned, things have moved quickly for Paulino Spectacles – a great sign that our collection strikes a chord. But my wish is not to mass market Paulino Spectacles. We just hope to bring the quality and interest of the label to people who wish to try it, whereever they are.