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Brands | December 14, 2016

Evolutionary Minds

Sitting down with Jeremy and Roberta Baines to discover the story of a global brand, who aspires to be present in the best independent opticians around the World

words Antonella Reina

Modernity and tradition. American style and Italian craftsmanship. English heritage and innovative attitude.Based in the foothills of the Dolomites in Northern Italy, Tavat is all these things together, thanks to the special team behind it. A father and his daughter, Jeremy and Roberta Baines, who joined their forces to build a contemporary eyewear brand based on principles of independence, quality and designs that withstand the test of time.

Back to the past, Tavat was launched in 2010, at MIDO. Jeremy Baines had a wish: “To help the independent optician fight back against the competition from mass-marketers, chains, discounters and not to mention, the Internet.” But the connection with eyewear started some years before, with a dear friend, Norman Schureman, a professor at the Art Center in Pasadena and a very talented eyewear designer: “I challenged him to design a classic collection. This was in 2005 and this collection was to become the first collection, Airman, for Tavat”, Jeremy explains, remembering what was the hardest part of the beginnings, “Norm was tremendously detail oriented at creating not just new hinges, but also new ways of making eyewear. The hardest part was realizing his vision and ensuring that we could achieve the functionality whilst maintaining the technical and aesthetic details set forth by Norm.”

Since that time, the brand has seen important changes: “The increase of the monopoly of the Top 5 largest vertically integrated manufacturers in the world which has lead us to challenge this model and create an exclusive brand dedicated to superior customer service, design & innovation and of course, quality.” And today Tavat has a clear aim, as Mr. Baines confirms: “Our mission is to differentiate our collection from our competitors and give the independent opticians unique products which allow them to differentiate themselves from their competition. Each Tavat collection features unique hinges and custom lenses developed to allow the optician to dispense eye protection as well as fashion”. All this is possible thanks to special collaborations: “With 200 years of combined experience, we work with some of best eyewear artisans and manufacturers in Italy while also collaborating with of the best designers, in the world, from our industry. We also support the Art Center with an annual ‘Tavat Design Flash’ to encourage young designers to continue the legacy of Norm’s creativity.”

Past and present are the keys to create a brilliant future. Roberta is sure of this. There is a quote that she has always admired by Vivienne Westwood, which has become one of Tavat best mottos: “Few have the humility to look to the past and study what has already been done, but there isn’t modernity without knowledge and creativity without tradition.” The youngest part of the team says: “I come from a strong heritage with my grandfather owning several optical practices in London and my father also has had quite the incredible career of building brands such as Christian Dior. It’s very important to refer to the past, so you can strive to be better today, and set the momentum for moving forward”. With a strong determination to pursue the brand values she ensures: “My biggest challenge will be living up to my heritage as I aspire to be just as good, if not better. Our biggest challenge at Tavat will be to educate our end-customers about the importance of the role of the independent optician and difference of the products available on the market today.” And about the future she concludes: “We are constantly evolving and innovating. We strive to build the best team, and work with the best independent opticians. We are very passionate about what we do and every day is an exciting challenge to always be better. There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, you will have to wait and see”.