ACE OF SHADES: Dutch-based online glasses seller Ace & Tate aims to deliver eyewear imbued with the perfect harmony of attitude and affordability. In concert with its virtual vision, the brand is fine-tuning the art of the pop-up — with the latest edition now in residence on Berlin’s Torstrasse until Dec. 23.
Visitors can try on and order a range of men’s, women’s and unisex eyewear. Italian-made from acetate (hence the brand name), each sells for 98 euros, or $122, whether finished as sunglasses, prescription glasses, or prescription sunglasses.
This story first appeared in the December 1, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Light boxes display song lyrics, and the shop’s specially designed wall art is a riff on the Fender Stratocaster in impressionistic neon created by Berlin-based graphic designer and art director Mario Lombardo. Shop design and fittings came courtesy of the city’s New Tendency agency.
Launched in 2103, Ace & Tate is available in about a dozen locations in the Netherlands through pop-ups and store partnerships. Ace & Tate also has an English-language Web site with service to the U.K. The company offers an at-home try-on service for online shoppers, and for each pair of glasses sold globally, it donates to the Sightsavers vision charity.
The eyewear brand entered the German market this summer, working with Berlin concept store Voo, installing a temporary display where customers can try on glasses before ordering. Shoppers can also purchase non-prescription Ace & Tate sunglasses on-site. A permanent custom counter is in the works.
Ace & Tate releases new models every four to six weeks, and also themed collections of six to eight pieces several times a year. The latest is music-influenced, and has model names such as Nina, after Nina Simone, and the Elwood, inspired by the Blues Brothers, as well as lyrical colors including “Smoke on the Water” and “Space Oddity.” Ace & Tate designs are “more timeless and style-driven than very high-fashion and crazy,” said company founder Mark de Lange, who listed France’s APC as one of his favorite inspirational brands.
De Lange, who was previously involved in investments for start-ups, said becoming an off-line retailer is not a goal for his firm.
“We see ourselves as an online-first retailer. But we do see that moving off-line has a lot of advantages,” he said. “It enables us to showcase our brand in a very different way, and it allows us to take off-line the world of Ace & Tate to show more to our customer actually what we’re about. So I think we’ll be doing a lot more off-line.”
The company has set its sights firmly on German expansion — already planned are collaborations with shops in Hamburg and Munich in the months ahead. In the coming year, de Lange said, Ace & Tate will broaden its presence to six to seven more cities around the country.