Lunettes Alf or ‘Atelier de Lunetterie Français’ to give their full title, is an emerging artisanal brand of high quality eyewear located in Paris, founded by two brothers – Alexis and Germain Bouchara. Alf stands out from the crowd as a timeless family owned brand, with a frame style that nods to former decades, and artisanal craftsmanship in the making of each frame, in respect of traditions passed down by generations. Eyestylist spoke to founders Alexis and Germain Bouchara (pictured above).
Did you always envision venturing into business together as brothers? Alexis: My brother and I have always been very close and family spirit is very important to us. So, venturing into business together was not planned but it was not a surprise either; it just happened naturally.
Was eyewear something you both always felt drawn to? Tell us a little about your journey that led to the creation of Lunettes Alf? A: I have been working in this industry for almost 20 years now, and I am truly passionate about the product and its history. After my training with the “Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” (“Best Workers of France”) I instantly knew I wanted to introduce a brand into the market, to tell my story and to share the way I see ‘the perfect eyewear’. I believed in putting quality first as a tribute to the craftsmanship and noble materials used in creating our frames. As for my brother, he has been working in the fashion and accessories industry for over 20 years in both sales and marketing positions. When I shared my vision of the project, he was as enthusiastic as me and I saw that our dreams would match perfectly – that was the beginning of the journey, three years ago now.
The classic ‘panto frame’ is a recognisable crowd favourite among creators and consumers of eyewear alike; a quirky shape with a nod to twentieth century vintage style. Lunettes Alf includes a ‘panto frame’ in every collection – what are your thoughts on this design and why do you think you feel drawn to it as designers? A: Alf draws its inspiration from old glasses frames; the panto shape has marked the history of eyewear as an evolution of the original frame – the round one. This evolution has occurred in two areas; a lens shape offering wider fields of vision and the introduction of the pantoscopic angle to keep a constant lens-eye distance. This angle is generated by a high temple anchor point (this is different from the typical medium position anchor point on a round scope). These developments have increased the wearer’s comfort of vision. For all these reasons, it made perfect sense to have the panto shape as a principle part of our collection. Comfort, innovation and a nod to the origins of eyewear – all ideas that strongly resonate with us.
Who do you design your eyewear for and what do you believe separates your brand as well as your target consumer from the rest of those on and in the market? Germain: We create our eyewear for customers who care about quality materials and craftsmanship, those who cherish time and longevity, those who don’t want to over-consume and those who prefer to repair than replace. To meet these criteria we have chosen a combination of Japanese acetate and French manufacturing to create robust sunglasses with a timeless and chic design. Beyond the product, we are passionate about eyewear. We believe that being close to our customers, maintaining a sense of rigorous service at heart and delivering high end products are key points of differentiation.
What are your thoughts on sustainability within the eyewear industry or even within the fashion industry as a whole? Do you think your brand makes an effort to produce sustainably, and how do you do so? G: Over the past years eyewear has become a consumer accessory and often loses out to over-consumption. Some glasses are sold so cheaply that many consumers consider them as a disposable product. “I paid 30 euros for this pair of glasses, if I lose them or break them, I’ll buy another one”…. We too have consumed a lot in our lives; the countless clothes we purchase, wear a few times and end up giving away almost unused, for example. We find it absurd that we can still think like that in the times we now live in. Today, I feel that we buy much less, but better / this is why we are supporters of slow fashion. We care about sustainability in that sense. Of course, every day we are working on improving our impact with less packaging and bicycle deliveries when possible – for two examples. At ALF the best way we have found to make our glasses sustainable is to focus on three criteria: timeless design, the quality of materials and manufacturing. When we started developing our brand, our goal was to make our eyewear an object that would be passed on from generation to generation. That is still a goal we dream to achieve one day.
Was eyewear always the end goal for your creative vision, or do you have any plans to venture into other areas of the fashion industry? A: The day I came up with the idea of creating an eyewear brand, I thought I needed to surround myself with people to manage the distribution. The same evening, I called Germain to tell him my idea and I concluded by telling him: “I’ll make this brand with you or I won’t make it” – for the past three years we have been working together perfectly. We remain humble and try to build a consistent brand that will last over time, but it doesn’t exclude us from venturing into other areas such as collaborations with other fashion brands who share the same values as us. That being said, we are very excited to share with you very soon a collaboration with a fashion brand that we love – stay tuned for Summer 2022!
Where do you typically seek and source inspiration from in designing your collections? Has the pandemic impacted your motivation and creativity in any capacity? A: To me, eyewear inspiration can be found everywhere: old magazines, trade books, movies, family photos and of course nowadays social media and the internet. I try not to look too much, I don’t want to be inspired by my peers. The different confinements we have endured have provided us with the advantage of time, time to think, to invent, to be creative and to improve.
Can we expect anything exciting in the world of eyewear from Lunettes Alf in the near future at Silmo? G: As a young brand we will keep on developing our collection. We are excited to share not just two but three new models and two new colours in our upcoming September collection to complete our palette. Lunettes Alf are available worldwide in selected retailers including Kitschenberg (Munich), Frank Lo (Rome), Pour Vos Beaux Yeux (Paris) and Blick Brillen (Rotterdam). https://lunettes-alf.com An exclusive interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton for www.eyestylist.com