We recently featured Nick and Alain’s absolutely wicked sunnies brand Pacifico Optical on Man of Many, but we were lucky enough to sit down with the boys for a longer chat on how they started the brand, how they find inspiration and their plans for the future.
We’re also running a wicked GIVEAWAY with the boys. Check after the interview for details.
Man of Many: So, how did this all start and come about? Did you guys make eyes at each other squinting at the beach and think, “that bloke really needs a good pair of sunnies”?
Something like that! We have always been big fans of premium eyewear and vintage frame shapes – but like many other people, weren’t big fans of spending $300 or more on a nice pair. We knew that there had to be a way we could bring top quality frames to people for a decent price, so we decided to play with the idea of creating a premium eyewear label selling directly to consumer, therefore being able to cut the price. We both lived at Bondi and loved the ocean and vintage cars, so we decided to incorporate those things that we loved into elements of the brand.
How did you two meet?
We met at high school. I would say that the seed for the brand was planted when travelling together during university in Croatia where we chatted about a mutual interest in vintage eyewear and the collections we had amassed from various purchases in vintage shops and back alley boutiques.
What came first, the design or the name?
We actually had a lot of different names we were throwing around as a potential name for the label – it didn’t come instantly to us. We wanted something that would fit the laid back mood of the brand, but also something resonated with the provenance of the materials and components that we wanted to incorporate into the eyewear, which are mostly Italian, as well as the heritage of the designs, which I would say are very much inspired by classic European shapes and silhouettes. I would say the frame designs came alot easier to us as we were pretty set on what we liked and the shapes we wanted to create.
What were the main inspirations for the collection?
We are very much inspired by classic shapes. We try to incorporate the smooth lines of European design of the 60s and 70s into our frames – round curves and clean lines and edges. There is a sort of timeless cool that makes design of that era pretty inspirational. The car that we used for the look book shoot of the debut collection (which you can check out on the website), a 1964 Porsche 356, is a pretty good example. The lines on that car are just sensational.
Any problems you came across in the design/prototype phase?
We made constant tweaks to the designs during the design and prototype phase. There was alot of scrutiny given to minor details. We went through a couple of rounds of samples and tweaks before we were comfortable with the first range. Things that looked good on paper didn’t always turn out how we wanted them on the physical product so we would revisit the designs and make changes. We are all about the details aswell, so being able to touch and feel the product, and inspect the details in person also led to various design decisions.
How did you source your initial prototypes?
The internet is an amazing place! Initial contact with our suppliers and manufacturers was via email, but we made trips to meet them in person at optical fairs to cement the relationship. I think building rapport with suppliers and manufacturers in person is very important in the process. It gives a personal element to the process instead of being just an email address.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start something similar?
Get it done! If you have an idea, take steps to develop a product. We had no experience in retail or the optics industry, but it is amazing what you can learn by setting your mind to something. We spent close to two years developing the product and the brand. We are both perfectionists so we wanted to make sure everything was right how we wanted it. We also reached out to a lot of friends with complimentary skills throughout the process who provided invaluable input and support.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
We are really happy with the outcome of our debut range and launch. Obviously it would have been nice to get it all done quicker! However sometimes things take time to get right.
Any plans to expand beyond sunglasses?
We are developing an optical range, as well as various accessories to compliment the range. We don’t have any plans to expand beyond eyewear for now. But you never know!
How do you guys like to relax when you’re not working on the company?
We both live by the ocean so there is nothing better for us than to go for a swim or a surf. We both love to eat and drink aswell. Alot of business meetings were held at cafes around Bondi over a coffee or over a glass of wine and a home cooked meal at our places.
Name something you guys can’t live without (apart from the Pacifico Optical sunnies of course)?
Nick: I am a bit of a foodie – I have a set of Japanese cooking knives in a hand made leather knife roll that I had custom made on Etsy which I take with me everywhere.
Alain: It would probably be my Canon 500D DSLR camera at the moment. Especially now I am hassling randoms constantly for photographs in our shades. I actually just purchased a Pentax K1000 SLR from the 70’s and a Nikon FG20 SLR from the 80’s in order to get a little more creative. You could say I buy on impulse!
What’s an item you each are looking to buy at the moment?
Nick: I have had a slight obsession with vintage watches recently and have been scouring the internet looking at vintage Omegas. I recently bought myself an Omega Seamaster from the 70s online which I am waiting to receive in the mail which I am pretty excited about.
Alain: I have been obsessing over hats the past couple of years. I have another one on the way, which is from Fallen Broken Street. I have that many now; I am beginning to push the hat boundaries on what is considered acceptable. I also have a new Ripcurl Flash Bomb steamer (wetsuit) on the way and am in the market for a hot new coat for winter. If any of your readers can help me out, it would be much appreciated.
Where can people find you if they want to buy a pair?
Check out our range on www.pacificooptical.com – we offer free international shipping and free returns within Australia.
Thanks to Pacifico Optical, we are giving away a pair of sunnies of your choice to one lucky reader. To enter, simply follow the instructions in the window below.