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Interviews | February 5, 2020

A chat… with Marcello Martino

Launching in 2019, Covrt Project sets off on a mission to bring eyewear centre stage in streetwear culture, focusing on details and attitude. We talk to its founder

words Cayce Pollard

You speak about defining a new culture in eyewear, can you tell us more about this?

In streetwear there is a massive appreciation for product and limited editions. Products get iconic status even before they are launched. Designers are rock stars, and fans talk about which brand uses better materials or has technical details that tell the story. Sneakers get traded like commodities, because it’s a status symbol to have the latest drop. It’s the opposite of fast fashion. Products are cherished and collected. I would love to define a new culture where there is this appreciation for eyewear and independent brands in our industry.

Your key markets: online or physical retailers?

The key is getting to our customer and making sure they can touch and feel the product in person, and importantly, try it on. We want to work with people who love the product as much as we do, as they will be our ambassadors in helping to tell our story. Our brand is not about shape, it’s about details and attitude, so it’s important people can see and try the frames on to decide for themselves. Online has its place because it brings accessibility but I still am quite traditional in thinking that in a modern
world eyewear has to be experienced in person, touched, felt and tried on!

Tell us about your biggest market and the ones you’re aiming to expand into in the near future.

Time will tell, as we just launched at Silmo and product deliveries are going to happen at the beginning of 2020. I know where customers are and it’s a matter of working with the right partners to reach them. Initial reaction from all markets in Europe has been amazing and we have had quite a few requests from the American market that we are trying to facilitate. Product-wise we are concentrating on urban streetstyle through statement sunglasses. We are going to stay true to this and expand the product line based on feedback and customer requests, as well as other ideas I have got too. Maybe an optical collection, but with a twist. We will see.

Can you tell us about the craft and how this is key to the brand strategy?

From the start, it was important that the frames were made in Italy. Mainly because I wanted to work with my friends at the factories lol! However, I think there is a certain emotion that is created in eyewear when it’s handmade. We didn’t want to represent craft in the traditional sense, but to showcase the cutting-edge technical craft that our industry has to offer. Details like exposing the wire core on the acetate temples were done on purpose. Why? Because the end consumer doesn’t really know what the wire represents and what it does. They are normally told acetate frames have wire cores and that’s it. By using it as a design detail it allows the optician or reseller to be able to tell this story and give the product more appreciation. It amazes me how many different people handle and work on the product before it reaches a customer. This story needs to be told; but design details need to be created to allow the story to be told.

What are the key features of your latest collection?

The acetate models are made from milled Mazzuchelli acetate, and the as2 frame in particular has a detail that was very challenging. The idea was to create a reflective shadow around the lens, so when the lens has a mirror effect you get a shimmering effect without distorting the view. To do this we made the pantos optic angle inside the frame–normally this would be done with a base 0 lens. To do this with a base 2 lens required a lot of trials and the creation of a sort of 3d milling groove. The logo and serial numbers inside the temples are all made with UV, a process that is normally reserved for creating logos on lenses: as I don’t like laser marking and the burn effect it creates on the acetate. The Zeiss lenses on all the frames are cut from a one-piece mask, so each lens (when individual) is bookmatched perfectly.

Future plans?

We have been very lucky to have been selected for a box at Opti Munich and the Lab Academy at Mido as well as Tranoï  in Paris. So, it’s going to be a very busy start to the year. We are also talking with some key retailers about delivering a new kind of retail experience to introduce Covrt Project to new markets and reach our tribe.