Eyestylist Exclusive: Silvia Fresco is the founder of IN SANA, an emerging Italian independent eyewear brand with a distinctive, handcrafted aesthetic. IN SANA frames are handmade to order. Victoria G. L. Brunton asked her about her approach to fine eyewear design and what made her launch her very own designs.
Describe to us the journey you took to discovering the eyewear industry and founding your own brand. I studied Product Design at IED in Milan, after an internship in the city I felt the need for a change, so I moved to London. There I had the great chance to work in Gentle Monster’s first European flagship store – I didn’t know I would have ended up doing sunglasses at that time, but the experience definitely opened my eyes. It was quite a difficult period of my life to be honest, but in the darkness I found great comfort in sunglasses, so I started designing what turned out to be my first phase. After a while I moved back to Italy to seek support, and with the great support of my family I got back on my feet. After sharing the drawings with my father, who worked in the eyewear industry all his life, we started prototyping – once we had the glasses in our hands, we couldn’t keep them for ourselves, so we started the journey which is IN SANA. Above: Silvia Fresco, IN SANA
You describe your collections as “phases” and your “designs” as “experiences”, why is this? My first collection was born without the intention of opening a company, the drawings just came unexpectedly when I most needed something beautiful to happen. Somehow we can say that life inspired me. When I opened IN SANA I immediately started to feel the pressure of fast fashion and I realized that having to come out with a new collection every few months would have killed my creativity. Phase Exeo is the spontaneous representation of a period of my life, and that’s why it’s so unique. I want to keep that uniqueness, I want to make glasses only if I truly believe it’s something new, something someone somewhere in the world will really love. No need for over production.
Avoiding the seasonal cycle of fashion seems important to you, is this because of sustainability? Yes. I will be honest, at first I moved closer to the concept of slow fashion to protect my creativity, but as soon as I started to produce glasses, and I realized how much work time and components are involved, it became clear how much waste this industry produces based on the current market. I simply don’t see the point in overproducing to sell more at a lower price – sunglasses are a really complex design object, which require a lot of skills and people to work perfectly, and it should be respected for what it is, as well as being respectful to our environment.
How do you manage to stay organised and stick to some kind of rhythm without following any kind of seasonal structure? Well that’s an interesting question. Designing sunglasses gives me a joy that is very hard to describe. Every time I finish a new drawing I feel like it is not just for me, someone else will be empowered wearing the item, and that’s the most important thing for me, knowing I helped someone to feel more like themselves. When I need that feeling myself, I start drawing, and if life gives me enough inspiration or lessons by that time, a new design naturally comes out. It’s an artistic process for me.
“Listening and respect” : you say this is one of your brand’s most important pillars, how do you involve your customers in your brands conversations and consider them throughout your design process? Listening and respect are indeed my most important values: IN SANA wouldn’t exist if the people who love me didn’t respect me and listened to me when I most needed it. It is my mission to treat everyone who comes across my sunglasses to offer the same. In the future I would love to design personalized glasses for my customers and I believe it won’t be possible without observing these values. I am just at the beginning of this adventure now, but I treasure every feedback: my sunglasses are unusual, every person sees in them something different and I find it fascinating to hear what they see in them, in some ways, they give me new ideas and probably next time I design I’ll think of them. There is no bad feedback.
Your website mentions the support your brand received from techno DJs in the beginning, this is quite a rare / niche industry to crossover with eyewear – how did this affiliation arise? I moved a lot between European capitals in the last few years and had the chance to interact with the techno community here and there. Through techno I met the people who are now my best friends and my greatest supporters – some of them are DJs. I find great peace in their music, I easily get lost in it – when the music is right, suddenly everything pauses down for a bit, everything seems organized to me. Leaving all the worries out I finally have space to enter the creative flow. IN SANA means “in the sounds” in Latin, it refers both to the inner sounds of our souls, where our creativity arises, both to techno, which helped me hear those melodies in the first place.
What creators outside of the realm of eyewear (music, literature, art etc) do you think resonate with / mirror your brand and its vision? I don’t come from a fashion background, I love fashion of course but I mainly find inspirations from artisanal work. I am a product designer, objects always fascinated me. I am constantly looking for art around me, something that gives me that feeling I have when I wear my sunglasses. The first one who comes to my mind is Bruno Munari who has definitely been a point of reference for me during my studies. In the immense world of the arts, painting and architecture are my favorite ways of expression – they communicate so much without ever imposing themselves, they always let you interpret them. I hope my glasses give you the same feeling.
Tell us a bit about what you’re doing in order to produce in a less environmentally damaging way…I always choose the most eco-friendly option available even if It is very hard in the eyewear world to have a 100% eco-friendly production. Very high minimum order quantities are applied from the companies who produce the materials you need to produce, store and ship something with the complexity of a pair of sunglasses. So I decided to produce on order – in this way I fight overproduction, which is one of the biggest problems new generations have to face, and I keep under control quality and waste disposal. In some way, producing less gives me more freedom to choose between old wasteful ways of production, and more innovative but less impactful ones, like 3D printing. All the metal components of Phase Armour for example are the results of a process that includes 3D printing, we only use the metal we need, they are almost 0 waste.
Each pair of your frames is made by hand on a made-to-order basis…talk us through your process…Yes, my sunglasses are handmade on order, meaning we have a limited stock to be able to support our customers in case of need (warranty cases etc..) but nothing more. From the moment of order, both from shops or clients online, I need between 2 weeks and 3 months to deliver, based on the pair of glasses and the quantity. This is possible thanks to a few trusted artisans in the Belluno area in Italy who taught me the art of eyewear and make each piece by hand with me.
Your two current shoppable “phases” are Phase Exeo and Phase Armour, could you tell us about these phases and how they compare / contrast? I perceive these two phases so differently, but they are very connected. Phase Exeo comes from a place of darkness, Phase Armour is what came after it. My first phase was unexpected, messy and edgy – each model is different, you can see it wasn’t thought to be a collection. My second phase comes from a more conscious place – I already had IN SANA for a year when I designed it, I was more aware of the difficulties in making glasses. These phases are completely different but they come from the same need of looking for something more meaningful, and shape myself into a better person. Find out more about the brand at www.in-sana.com An interview by Victoria G. L Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com. All rights reserved.