Randolph Engineering might be the newest old eyewear brand.
This story first appeared in the January 5, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The company was founded in 1972 by two engineers seeking to create pure performance eyewear. Ten years later, it became the U.S. Department of Defense’s official supplier of aviation flight glasses, marketing itself as the leading vendor to various government agencies for sun and ophthalmic wear.
Now Randolph Engineering (known as RE) is evolving into a full fashion brand, reaching out to customers who will appreciate its handcrafted metal frames and heroic history. “We are expanding into a broader commercial market than we ever have before,” says Mary Waszkiewicz, marketing manager at RE and granddaughter of co-founder Jan Waszkiewicz.
“We’ve been available to the military for all of these years, and now we’re hoping to reach the average consumer.”
That shouldn’t be a problem. With a retail range of $99 to $170 and more than 17 color-tinted lenses to choose from, RE is already a huge seller at Dillard’s as well as Steven Alan in New York. Over the next few years, the company hopes to expand its distribution, aiming for select department stores and high-end eyewear retailers while still serving members of the U.S. military.
The fashion and entertainment communities have also embraced RE. Designer Michael Bastian uses the aviators on his runways, and the frames have been worn by characters in such movies as “Apollo 13,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Taxi Driver.”