Who has the fairest glasses of them all?
BY SANDY STRASSER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 2 2015)
Dutch eyewear brand Ace &Tate depicts itself as diverse as life itself. Those who have long craved glasses as an accessory that complements their every look will find a wide variety of trendy products here. And they all have one thing in common: one tempting price. CEO Mark Daniel de Lange allows us a look through the looking glass to reveal what is behind this hip newcomer.
What does the name Ace & Tate mean, Mr de Lange?
Mark Daniel de Lange : The name Ace & Tate simply came from acetate, the material our eyewear frames are made of. We are all about the product, so I wanted to keep it simple. This works well for who we want to be as a brand.
What is the concept behind the brand?
m. D. D. L.: We are an Amsterdam-based eyewear brand. We offer high quality, stylish yet affordable frames and this is achieved by cutting out the ‘middlemen’. Our business structure is transparent; by designing and developing in-house we don’t pay licence costs so we don’t make our customers pay it either. We like to keep it simple, so we have one price for all models and there are no hidden costs. Our handcrafted glasses are priced at just 98 euros/£89, including prescription lenses and shipping costs.
When was the company founded?
m. D. D. L.: We launched the website in June 2013, so we are coming up to our 2nd anniversary, which is really exciting.
How do you explain the current hype around the brand?
m. D. D. L.: We hope this isn’t just a current hype. We pride ourselves on product quality and offering the best customer service we possibly can, which keeps our customers coming back for more. Hence, we consistently aim to create a brand aesthetic that is timeless and interesting for our customers and by adding a contemporary twist for each collection we make our product unique. Furthermore, we are continuing to build our creative community by working with different artists, photographers and stylists to create modern and current content. Collaborations are also important for us as we grow. We like to keep things interesting, not only for our customer base but for our team too.
How would you describe the Ace & Tate look? Who typically wears your glasses?
m. D. D. L.: The Ace & Tate look is timeless with a contemporary twist. We offer a variety of frames for different occasions and for everyone’s taste. The concept behind the brand is for people to be able to approach eyewear as an accessory. Just like we all have several different bags or pairs of sneakers, offering different frames for an affordable price means you don’t have to sell out on style. The typical Ace & Tate frame wearer is an individual who likes to look good and change their style often.
Where can one buy your glasses?
m. D. D. L.: We have a number of pop up stores and retail locations now across the Netherlands and Germany but our primary selling point is our website.
Every model is available for 98 euros. How do you manage to keep prices so incredibly low while still making a profit?
m. D. D. L.: As I said before, it’s quite simple; we cut out the middlemen. Apart from that, we do everything ourselves, we design in-house, work side by side with our manufacturers and sell directly to our customers, allowing any unnecessary costs to be lifted. We also don’t charge for anti-scratch, anti-reflection and UV protection lenses because we believe it should always be included in the price, across the board.
What is your strategy to assert yourself on the market while competitors mainly sell luxury brands?
m. D. D. L.: Our main brand basis is always developing good quality product and best-in-class customer service. We want to make our customers happy. This has so far resulted in higher re-order rates than the industry standard. Another aspect that distinguishes us from competitors is our immensely successful Home Try-On service. It’s a way of making it as easy as possible for our customers when deciding on their favourite frame, as they get to try them in the comfort of their own home whilst asking for advice from friends and family. You can choose up to four frames and we deliver to your door for free, no strings attached. And finally, there are the interesting collaborations and the work we do with our creative community for seasonal campaigns and stories.
Which role do your concept stores play?
m. D. D. L.: We aim for our pop up stores to connect to our customers in a different way. We work with artists and the design company New Tendency to bring a point of difference and a unique feeling to each space. We like our pop up stores to feel more like galleries than a shop, which is why we choose a minimal and well thought out design process to help achieve this.
How can we imagine the creative office? Who is responsible for the design?
m. D. D. L.: We recently moved to a beautiful old building in the East of Amsterdam. Our office is a big open plan space, with the design team in one area and customer service in another and so on. This allows for us all to work as a team and to understand what our colleagues are working on.
How and where do you manufacture your glasses? Where does that leave the traditional craft?
m. D. D. L.: We always work with experienced factories that have been doing this for a number of years. Most of them are small, family owned companies. Currently almost all of our frames are handmade in Italy. We primarily use acetate from the world-renowned brand Mazzucchelli and the production of our frames can follow up to 50+ steps.
How easy is it to return or exchange a model?
m. D. D. L.: We have a return policy which means you can send your frames back to us free of charge within 30 days. With no questions asked you will either get an exchange or a refund. We also offer a one year guarantee with each purchase.
What is the return quota and what happens with those unwanted glasses?
m. D. D. L.: We don’t communicate this externally. However, we can tell you that it’s well below the standard fashion ecommerce rate, and still very much in the single figures range.
Double Vision is a project where you donate a share of your profits to your partner SightSaver who gives glasses to people in the poorest parts of the world. What is your motivation for this charity project?
m. D. D. L.: We didn’t need an external motivation, it was more of a ‘why not if you can’ decision. Helping people in the poorest parts of the world while building a business makes sense. It is about giving to those who are in desperate need. With this in mind, the Double Vision project seemed best fit for us.
Where will Ace & Tate be in five years? What are your goals?
m. D. D. L.: I expect the lines be-tween offline and offline to be completely blurred in five years. Therefore, Ace & Tate, like any commerce company, will be active both on and offline. I do expect our online channel to remain dominant. Our goal is to become the eyewear brand to go to, making lots of people happy with good products, incredible service and effective charitable projects.
Picture credits © Ace of Tate PR