Alessandra Albarello

Together with Justin and Jeremy Heit, he founded the Californian brand of which he is Design Director. Their shared passion for the ocean and also for art, design and music has inspired a time-defying collection

Why the name Raen?
Our background before Raen (pronounced ‘rain'”) was in brand building and working with many diverse clients. When we had the idea of creating a brand, we knew we wanted the name to be a word that was a bit cryptic. Ideally one syllabic, short and memorable, with a connection to water. We worked with a copywriter to create a giant word bank based on these requirements and Raen is where we landed.

How much has your sport background as well as Californian imagery influenced your brand? 
The brand was born with salt in its hair! All three of us co-founders share a passion for the ocean and the lifestyle that comes from it. We planted the seed of the brand with that passion and have cultivated it through our connection with our ambassadors. They are creatives who enjoy pursuing passions outside of the activity they are known for. We share a love for art and design, for  music, for the ocean and the natural world. Although we are a brand rooted in surf culture and an authentic coastal California lifestyle, we are not a ‘performance’ oriented product or brand. This was a deliberate decision early on. We created a brand that would specialize in designing and building ‘Modern Classics’, pieces that are informed by classic design but are altogether and contemporary and will stand the test of time. This is our design ethos. We want our products to be relevant to you for years from now, solidly built to stand the test  time, therefore reducing waste and avoiding the ‘fast fashion’ cycle of consumption. 

Your background has also its roots in publishing, marketing and design. Is there a fil-rouge connecting these elements to your brand?
Raen started in 2009. The three founders, Justin, Jeremy and I brought together a combination of creative experience, from Design and Branding to Professional Surfing. We had previously done some eyewear design for clients and that inspired us to think about how we would position our own brand. In the surf and lifestyle channel in California the styles used to be very sporty-all injected wraps – and they often lacked craftmanship and real quality. We wanted to bring change to the market. As an independent eyewear company, Raen continues to forge a new path focused on the use of premium materials in order to create carefully crafted and attainable Modern Classic eyewear where the California spirit seeps into every pair. Authentic is a word that has been associated with Raen many times by people outside of the brand. We are a pure eyewear company. We live the lifestyle we portray. We don’t do other product categories. We are not a license. Most importantly, our visual communication has a unique signature and our customers identify with and resonate with our style. We hope our imagery feels like we are shooting images of friends and family, as often that is what it is. Aside from design, photography is something that I have always been passionate about. 

Could you describe your new collection highlights? 
The brand was initially mostly known for acetate sunglasses, the portfolio has since grown to also encompass metal frames, including the first titanium optical collection we just launched. The Remmy continues to be our best-selling sunglasses model but at the same time we just had the best launch of new sun styles: like the Myles, our take on the mid-century classics and the Keera, an angular cat-eye shape that is our best attempt at women’s fashion. We spend the same amount of time selecting colours as we do designing the frames.

You live close to nature. Did this make you consider the issues of sustainability?
In the ocean and in the mountains, we feel aliveness, sensuality, the lightness of being and last but not least our own self. I think we are more mindful in the natural world. We have less distraction and more clarity. The awareness of the impact of every industry on the environment is rapidly becoming a point of focus for all segments, for all brands around the world. As a brand, Raen does not compare itself to other brands or shouts out loud what we do better. We just want to do the best we can do and continue to get better. We are taking various sustainability steps one by one, but we will also not use this to shout out loud. We just do our best. 

Future brand evolution?
There will not be a revolution but we will continue with our steady evolution. We can truly say that with every collection we get better. We will continue to focus on acetate and titanium as the pillars of our brand and we will continue to evolve our craftsmanship with these materials. We also believe that retail – and that includes optical retail – has to deliver more quality and creativity to end consumers to stay attractive. We are very excited about the first installation of our Raen wall concept at Frenz Optik in Bremen. At the same time, we can contribute to the value proposition of the retail stores and raise the brand perception of Raen to a new level. For 2022 this will be a major focus, to roll it out across Europe.

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