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Profiles | October 10, 2017

A matter of fate

A passion for beauty and authenticity, and a vision: to produce glasses as they were made in the past. This is the story of L.G.R, an Italian brand that shows the world the true Made in Italy value

words Antonella Reina

Some things happen as if they were commanded by destiny. L.G.R is the perfect example. Born as a beautiful passion that was pursued in part for fun and in part as a challenge, today it is an established brand and a custodian of the authentic and elegant Made in Italy. Everything began eight years ago. Luca Gnecchi Ruscone was 26 years old with a degree in economics from America and a job in Shanghai with an American company operating in the field of  finance and marketing. His inclinations matched the fields quite well, but life in the office, and so far from his beloved Italy, was a bit too restrictive. one day he received a phone call from his grandfather, as he himself tells us: “My grandfather, 92 years old at the time, asked me to accompany him to Asmara in Eritrea, where in the 50’s he had become important in the footwear industry; but even before he had opened a glasses shop. I accepted his invitation. And it was precisely in his old warehouses in Asmara that I found some frames from the 30s and 50s: the Italian colonial period in Africa. They were military glasses that had been worn by officers and had been made in a traditional fashion: they were beautiful, authentic, lacking brands or logos and made to last. I fell in love,” he continues,” I brought them back to Italy and began selling them to my friends, without ever thinking that it could become a job”.

The glasses he had brought back from Africa were an incredible success. “I made a lot by selling those 300 frames, and then I realised that this could be an opportunity to turn my passion into a real business”. Luca discussed the matter with his grandfather, who urged him to continue, but the challenge was formidable. The young entrepreneur didn’t want to just create yet another brand of glasses that follows the moment’s trends, he wanted to tell a story, to make people feel emo ons; he wanted to create frames which, just like those glasses from 50 years ago, are an authentic and magnetic product. “After conducting a lot of research, I found a workshop in Campania who produced glasses as they had been made in the past: with hand pantographs, four-step polishing, hot internal marking; these are all production steps that are no longer used, but it is precisely these details that make L.G.R glasses original”. After a first collection based on the 4 models found in the Asmara warehouse, Luca not only had to explore his entrepreneurial skills, but also his creativity. “The second collection was the first big test, because to achieve it, I had to  figure out what I wanted to be”.

The response, however, was not slow in coming. Luca counted on his friends’ support and on a series of fortunate coincidences. “I got the courage and confidence to follow my dream from my friends and family who wear my glasses every day: from my wife to my grandfather, to the gardener of our house in Africa and many others”. Then came the collabora on with Loro Piana, “I became the producer of their glasses for four years, which gave me the strength to believe in myself,” he says. Meanwhile, many people from the world of arts and entertainment chose to wear L.G.R frames, from the photographer Mario Tes no to Giorgio Armani, Chris an Loboutin, Gian Batista Valli and Emanuel ungaro, all the way up to Hollywood celebri es like Tom Cruise: “This has formed a circle of people that guide my creative choices as well. Most likely they wear our glasses because we offer an elegant but also very functional product that lends itself to different contexts”.

Today, that project which arose as a sort of game has become a fervent entrepreneurial reality that Luca continues to lead with a close-knit team of people. “The first office was my mother’s living room. The company has gradually grown over time, and now there are twelve of us”. Now the creative choices pass through a new filter, the commercial one, through the live contact with customers in order to meet consumers’ needs. However the original idea of not conforming to industry standards remains: the goal is to continue to make significant glasses that will be a cornerstone of every wearer’s wardrobe. “Everything that grows too quickly tends to die quickly,” says Luca, who by now has quite clear ideas, “I want steady growth that will first let me enter into the consciousness of my optical clients so that they can know me well, and then I will approach the final consumer, but this takes years. I’m not in a rush; the important thing is that there’s progress, year by year, not only in sales but also in our family, which is growing and gathering wonderful people who believe in what they do”. So the future is s ll far away for this company that seems to be focused on constant work permeated by great passion, “We make a good product and we only sell it in select stores, where our story and our passion can be told”. Luca’s next dream, however, seems to be just sitting there waiting to come true: “I would love to be able to stop people on the street and ask them ‘Do you know L.G.R?’ and I would love for everyone to answer yes”.