Warby Parker has garnered a lot of interest for a glasses company, not least from the tech press. It allowed customers to order and try on several pairs of glasses that retailed for under $100 before buying, then offered the glasses at a discount by cutting out third parties and sending directly to consumers. As a result of this model, it’s raised $215.5 million to-date and is now worth over $1.2 billion.
But why should US firms have all the fun? In Europe, GlassesDirect in the UK has raised $19.3 million for its direct-to-consumer model. And Ace And Tate, operating out of Amsterdam, is offering cut-price designer glasses with the option to return them. They also donate to blindness charities in developing countries every time they sell a pair of glasses.
Now a another player has entered the market, in the form of Italian sunglasses brand Quattrocento, a new crafted Italian eyewear brand made 100% in Italy. The name means “1400” and refers the the 15th Century in Italy, a time when the Italian renaissance was flourishing.
Quattrocento offers luxury glasses at a much lower price than the market. To achieve this they have cut out the chain of agents and distributors and do everything end to end. They also design their own range (as does Warby Parker). The idea is to revive the Italian artisan tradition in eyewear, where still today there are many glasses specialists and factories, especially in Northern Italy. Prices start at 105Euros for the frames and prescription lenses combined. They even write a hand-made note for every customer, which goes into the wooden box the glasses come in.
The startup is the brainchild of a combination of talents. Sharon Ezra previously worked in the fashion industry, and Eugenio Pugliese has long-time knowledge of the eyewear world (pictured).
It’s also a love story.
Sharon was finishing her Masters degree in Fashion Product Management in Milan. Eugenio had just arrived back in Italy after working in the optical industry in Argentina. He even grew up in a family optician business. The two met at an internet cafe in the city, and fell in love.
Quattrocento has now garnered investment from Avishai Abrahami, Wix CEO and Founder, French telecommunication entrepreneur Xavier Niel, and Kima Ventures to the tune of small seed round of $250,000, plus some other investors.
It will be interesting to see if their business, and perhaps their personal story, can capture the hearts of Europe’s eyewear fashionistas.