Bill Barton, Patty and I have worked together 18 years—I think we have an amazing synergy to create products. Patty as a designer is so prolific and her ability to design different genres seamlessly is unlike any other designer I’ve ever met.

Coming of Age for Modern Masters of Eyewear Barton Perreira

Interview JUSTIN ROSS

A decade in the making, Barton Perreira founders Patty Perreira and Bill Barton unveil the legendary BPX tenth anniversary collection and the essential qualities that make their eyewear so irresistible.

Patty: “When I sat down to think about what For our tenth-anniversary collection, I thought it would be fun to revisit and be inspired by some of the styles that meant the most to me or to Bill. Our first collection had a frame called the Emmanuelle and it had snake skin print because I really love animal prints and I wanted to bring that detail into the anniversary collection. There is influence and inspiration but they aren’t just reimagined, they are completely redesigned.”
When we started the collection, quality and design—those were our calling cards—each style takes at least six weeks to produce. We really say we are craftsmen and we are going to make something beautiful.
Bill: “When we started the collection, quality and design—those were our calling cards—each style takes at least six weeks to produce. We really say we are craftsmen and we are going to make something beautiful.”
Patty and I have worked together 18 years—I think we have an amazing synergy to create products. Patty as a designer is so prolific and her ability to design different genres seamlessly is unlike any other designer I’ve ever met.
Bill: “Patty and I have worked together 18 years—I think we have an amazing synergy to create products. Patty as a designer is so prolific and her ability to design different genres seamlessly is unlike any other designer I’ve ever met.”

Bill Barton and Patty Perreira, two Oliver People’s veterans with decades of combined industry experience, have plenty to celebrate these days. Barton Perreira is turning ten this year, coming of age after having rapidly risen to the top of their game and developing a cult-like following from fans of their gorgeous eyewear along the way. Their loyal customer base is drawn to the brand’s optical and sunglasses for their modern form factors, luxurious materials, and unparalleled fit resulting in a series of designs that have became instant classics. Modern masters of their craft, after only ten years Barton Perreira has already achieved what few can ever claim to have: a reputation as both quality leaders and design innovators. And now they are expanding their global footprint and bringing their eyewear to a broader audience with four Barton Perreira retail stores, distributors in more than 60 countries, and a new technical luxury brand called Allied Metal Works.


All of her designs are carefully handcrafted in Japan, making use of the best materials and craftspeople anywhere in the world. Asked why she chooses Japan, Patty emphasizes that “Japan is the best! They understand the importance of not cutting corners. They have relentless devotion to craft and an almost obsessive-compulsive desire to make things perfect. They understand and respect my creative direction.”
The brand’s continued success comes down to the attention to details and fine craftsmanship that have defined the brand from the beginning, and is also what keeps their loyal customers coming back for more. Patty Perreira leads the charge, keeping Barton Perreira true to its independent spirit and on its mission to redefine luxury in eyewear. A rare female voice in a heavily male-dominated industry, Patty infuses the brand with a cultivated aesthetic that draws from her roots in Los Angeles, her Venice-based studio, and her love for great art and design.


“I am a self-taught designer and Bill and I have always been independent free-thinkers. We wanted this same free-spirited independence for our brand. It was important for me personally to remain creative and true to what inspires me.”

To accomplish this goal, Patty highlights three qualities that make Barton Perreira’s eyewear stand out: “couture craftsmanship, superior quality, and impeccable fit.”


Like a work of art, each of the designs in a Barton Perreira collection say something different, with their own character, voice, and timbre. The designs reflect the impeccably cultivated approach of chief designer Patty Perreira. A native Angelino (the name applied to residents of Los Angeles), Patty has an appreciation for the casual sophistication and effortlessly cool aesthetics that her Venice studio also embodies; a tranquil oasis and a creative sanctuary for her design process.

“I live and work in Venice Beach. Venice is forever evolving and it has a very strong core/DNA that I connect with. I think there is a California attitude in my design aesthetic.


Surrounded by classic pieces of art and design in her Venice studio that combines elements of a modern industrial loft with eclectic items like a disco ball hanging from the ceiling in the living room, Patty Perreira clearly embodies two elements that any successful designer must have – a passion for quality that never goes out of style, and a clearly defined point of view.


“I find inspiration in most everything, but it is really the visionaries in art, architecture and music who remain true to their art form and don’t assimilate that continue to challenge and inspire me. Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Banksy, Ed Moses and Sage Vaughn. They are all masters of their craft and they inspire me.”


She counts Andy Warhol among her major sources of inspiration, even looking to a piece from her art collection featuring Barbara Feldon to develop color stories and shapes for the more retro-inspired pieces in the brand’s lineup.

Patty also has a special appreciation for mid-century design and minimal art. Artists and designers from this era selectively combined materials like wood and metal in innovative ways, resulting in the timeless classics that we are still in love with today, something which Patty wholeheartedly embraces.


“I love to combine colors and materials with unexpected details. Titanium is great to keep frames lightweight. I also love to add enamel and foil print textures to create unique color combinations and add dimension.” Patty strategically employs these techniques to subtly reference some of her other favorite sources of inspiration in vintage jewelry, cars, and motorcycles, while always being sure to keep true to her “refined, less-is-more aesthetic.”


Looking towards the future of Barton Perreira, Patty is more committed than ever to creating eyewear that leads by example. “Some exciting new technologies have become available which have allowed me to create new details and techniques,” but she resolves to “Staying committed and focused on designing eyewear that fits seamlessly into people’s lives… maintaining the spirit of the brand and not feeling pressure to achieve commercial success.” Ten years into the brand’s personal history, it is this dedication to the craft that elevates Barton Perreira’s eyewear and puts it in a category all of its own, creating timeless pieces of eyewear that are truly works of art.

Photo: courtesy of Barton Perreira, Emily Knecht

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Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text JUSTIN ROSS

The name SALT. itself stands for the key ingredients of the brand: Sea, Air, Land—and Timelessness. This passionate admiration of the power of nature guides SALT. on its clearly defined mission to create “simple things made well”—beautifully constructed eyewear with consistently great fit and purely modern designs. Doing so requires an unerring attention to detail and careful oversight of elements of the design, fabrication, and assembly process.

With headquarters in the historic Southern California town of Costa Mesa, just minutes away from the majestic Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach, it is no wonder that SALT.’s timeless designs are inspired by the beauty of nature in all its many forms. SALT. CEO Aaron Behle and lead designer David Rose explained to us their secrets to success during a brief break from whale watching in a small bay just up the coast from their offices.

The carefully selected team of eyewear experts that work at SALT. has been steered by Aaron since joining SALT. four years ago. For him, SALT. is first and foremost an eyewear company that prides itself on fit, and not just creating that perfectly balanced frame that rests comfortably on your face, but being able to reproduce it time and again, “At SALT., the notion of fit is so important. People don’t talk about that, it’s assumed, but it’s not happening. That’s why a lot of what is happening in eyewear is mass produced and it doesn’t fit – it’s not designed to fit and it is not run through a factory where they can execute consistent fit – and that consistency is a really really big part of why our brand is so successful.”

This unwavering commitment to fit is also what compels lead designer David Rose to seek out the highest quality materials including Japanese beta-titanium, Japanese and Italian acetate, and top-notch lenses for their eyewear. SALT. makes a concerted effort to source from the same suppliers and work with single batches, ensuring that each of their frames attains the high bar for consistent quality and fit that SALT. sets. It is crucial to David that “quality is there from day one, and not only day one, but the second year, five years, even ten years down the road.”

When it comes down to their lenses for their sunglasses range, David spends a lot of time finding the best lenses from German and Japanese suppliers, even paying extra to get a hold of custom lenses that perfectly combine performance, design, and color. “What has been true, and true with David as a designer, is that we don’t compromise,” says Aaron, justifiably proud of David as a designer and the great results that this uncompromising approach has led to.

David, who joined SALT. ten years ago, has carefully cultivated relationships with the best factories in the world, allowing SALT. to create their frames in a precision-driven, seamlessly integrated manufacturing process that can only be achieved in Japan. He has been working with the factory in Japan that produces all of SALT.’s frames for nearly twenty years. And according to Aaron, this loyalty has paid off: “the Japanese equation is still very very unique in eyewear. No one does fit better than the Japanese. From raw materials to finished product, every single step of the process is reviewed, evaluated, controlled. In 2008, after the recession, a lot of companies were pressured, and they left Japan, but we said no, we were going to stick with our partners, this is the best place in the world to make it—there is real loyalty to the factories there with our manufacturers.” By maintaining these hard-won relationships with the most reputable manufacturers in the world, SALT. retains its ability to lead the industry in quality, consistency, and fit.

SALT.’s frames are available worldwide, and even in their global strategy fit comes into focus as the brand works with their local distributors to select and modify frames to make sure that the best fits are reaching different face shapes in Asia, Europe, and North America. This level of awareness in design, and the courage to make brave business choices that maintain relationships with suppliers, build loyalty, and inspire confidence in the brand by guaranteeing always the highest quality materials makes SALT. a truly timeless brand and an undeniable example of fine craftsmanship.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text DAGMAR SCHRAMM

Blackfin takes the standard of “Made in Italy” to a whole new level by combining local production with precision technologies, only the best materials, and minimal designs. From cutting the frames to distribution, everything takes place under one roof. Even more remarkable, the modern glasses are produced far from any bustling city in the small town of Agordo, northern Italy. Blackfin’s key to success lies in the authenticity, connection, and passion that the team around CEO Nicola Del Din ardently pursues everyday.

Gleaming rooftops during summer and sparkling snow in winter; Agordo is truly a paradise on earth. Here, between the peaks of the Dolomites, Blackfin has been located since 1971. This is no accident. Eyewear giant Luxottica established itself in Agordo in the 1960s, and many smaller businesses followed suit, quickly making Agordo the hub of Italian eyewear production. Maria Pramaor, the mother of the present-day head of Blackfin Nicola Del Din, was an employee at Luxottica right from the start. Soon she decided to open her own business called Pramaor and began producing frames for Luxottica and other big eyewear brands. But then pricing policies got worse — and Pramaor was in crisis.

Together with her son Nicola she managed to change the course of the company when they decided to start producing their own frames by creating a new label called Blackfin. Success has followed this decision: in 2015 they produced 90,000 glasses, for 2016 production is estimated to go up to 110,000 pairs. Blackfin recently renovated their building in the style of high-tech Silicon Valley startups and now it is an über-modern company in the middle of Italy’s idyllic countryside.

Nicola Del Din, Blackfin CEO 

The label’s exciting and original spirit strongly shapes the pared back designs of their eyewear. Nicola created the term “NeoMadeinItaly” to sum up the brand’s philosophy. “We are a company with an extremely high technological standard. At the same time, we’re surrounded by inspiringly beautiful nature. This combination of global connections, captivating ideas, perfect organization and communication as well as a deep bond with our home is what defines Blackfin.” Nicola himself loves this region more than anybody: “If I had to live somewhere else, I’d rather die!”

Final assembly and inspection

Blackfin’s coloring process produces top-notch frames by hand

Nicola’s 60 colleagues also live by the label’s philosophy. Most of them went abroad to gain experience that now benefits Blackfin. All steps of production take place under one roof, even the colors are developed and produced in-house. Outsourcing production to Asia is unimaginable for Nicola Del Din: “Of course it is much more expensive to produce in Italy. But because we produce everything ourselves and forgo any in-betweens, we can truly claim the label ‘Made in Italy.’ It is so much more authentic and emotional for a company to completely take control of production. And that is our strength.”

Pure titanium is shipped from Japan to provide a perfect base for Blackfin’s no-frills frames. The sheets are only half a millimeter thick, resulting in extremely light, durable, and comfortable glasses. At the moment Blackfin concentrates on optical frames, only 10 percent of this year’s production models were sunglasses. The biggest inspiration for the label’s designs comes from Scandinavian classics, and yet there is nothing classical about them — Blackfin prides itself on being highly modern.

New models and an expanded sunglasses collection are in the works. “We are ready for the next level,” Nicola says. “Our new space and our perfect manufacturing conditions provide a great platform for new ideas. We are going to present some fresh concepts before the end of the year.” Without a doubt, Blackfin is going to surprise and excite us with their precision technology and crystal clear design.

Visit Online: BLACKFIN.EU

In the eyewear industry, a lot of smaller labels manage to shine with their collections off the beaten tracks. Individuality is in high demand and what accessory offers more personality than eyewear? Good design, high-quality materials and perfect workmanship provide the basis for success. Most important, though, are the personality, heart and soul the people behind the brands put into their work. 4SEE asked Ralph Albrecht, designer and co-owner of KBL about his strategies and plans for the future.

KBL means “kind of bohemian lifestyle“, a perfect summary for the fresh label’s philosophy: The brand designs eyewear for people who live and love the cosmopolitan spirit. Their frames are no status symbols, but rather an expression of style-consciousness, fun and lust for life. KBL’s friendly prices fit perfectly into that picture. The label was founded in 2009 by Adam and Kara Mendelsohn and Dave Barton in New York. Ralph Albrecht joined in 2011 to expand KBL’s range to European markets.

Then the three founders left KBL. Ralph Albrecht still believed in the label, with his several decades of experience in the eyewear business and after working with well-known brands like Alain Mikli, Oliver Peoples and Barton Perreira. The experienced frame manufacturer recognized the brand’s potential in time as well and invested in KBL Eyewear. Today it is one of the hippest labels and firmly at home on the noses of true trendsetters.

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Ralph, how did you manage to evolve KBL as a brand?
I developed a new strategy for KBL. This included the meaning of the name, a new, high-quality and extremely sturdy joint and the lifestyle aspect that holds everything together. We started engraving the silhouette of the Empire State Building into the temples of the frames, no other building encompasses big city life just like it. And that is exactly the feeling we want to convey with our eyewear.


You simply took design matters into your own hands…

Yes! We needed a new collection and there were only a few designs to develop further. I know manufacturing processes inside out, so I simply picked up pen and paper myself. I have more than enough ideas and the professionals working at our producers can transform them into functioning frames. My first design, the All American Rocket, went straight into serial production – without any prototype whatsoever. That design is still an absolute bestseller today.

Where do you get your ideas?
I get inspired by frames from the 60s, 70s or 80s. The designs were great, but they do not work for us today anymore. So I change them in a way that lets them keep their essence while creating something completely new. But architecture, watches or shoes lend inspiration for new glasses, too.

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Which materials do you use?
We mainly use Italian acetate and titanium from Japan. We put a lot of value on extremely high-quality production. Our temples, for example, are lasered from acetate, not milled. It is simply more exact and there is less material to scrap, so it is good for the environment as well. We combine standardized production quality with manual work. That includes assembling and polishing the frames by experienced workers in our Japanese production sites. But the lenses are something special, too, we have a cooperation with the renowned Italian manufacturer Barberini so we can offer extraordinary colour gradients.

What can we expect from KBL in the future?
We are about to launch two special collections: KBL photochromatic with mineral lenses which tint under sun light in a gradient. When you breathe on the lenses, the KBL photochromic logo appears. We will present KBL pure classic at the SILMO 2016, the most important optician faire in Paris – we combine beta titanium with features from the 80s and 90s and let these defining areas for the eyewear industry shine again. We will offer these models in different sizes, ranging up to oversize models. One thing is for sure: We will not run out of ideas any time soon.

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Bert Spangemacher
INTERVIEW: Justin Ross

When you think of designer eyewear, great fashion houses such as Fendi and Dior as well as industry leaders such as Carrera quickly come to mind. Although Safilo may not be the same kind of household name, the company is actually responsible for many of the most iconic frames produced under licensing agreements with these illustrious brands as well as many others such as Polaroid, Swatch, Celine, and most recently for Elie Saab.

After attending a press event at Soho House in Berlin for Safilo to showcase their latest multibrand offerings for men this upcoming Fall/Winter season, we caught up with their creative director Nicola Bonaventura. The event demonstrated how eyewear stays relevant and in-step with current lifestyle trends with categories such as athleisure and future tech, which we know and love from developments in the fashion industry. It was abundantly clear that Nicola and his team are really in tune with such trends and developments. But it made us curious to learn more from an industry insider exactly how these trends are interpreted for each brand and to take a deeper look into the whole creative design process.

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How did you start working as an eyewear designer?

I’ve been in this business for a long time. Now more than fifteen years. I graduated from design school in Italy and then I started out as an independent graphic designer for the fashion industry. And soon I merged my two passions–art and product or graphic design–and I found the eyewear business to be a good mix of the two things. You always face a lot of artistic inspirations and consider fashion, but in the end, you need to shape a product, which is made in hard materials so it is a process of industrial design. So it is a mix between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ matter and that is what I’ve liked since the beginning. Since then I’ve been involved in different big groups and I’ve had the chance to work with important global brands like Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss. At the beginning, I was also working for Dolce & Gabbana, always in the licensing sector. My strength was being able to translate the DNA of the brand into the business of this sector.

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Tell me a bit about Safilo, what makes it unique, and what kind of projects we can look forward to in the future?

Besides talent, you have to offer something in terms of designing the product, but you also have to have a good relationship with the different creative departments of the brands. We have more than twenty-five departments, most of them are under licenses, and we also have four of our own brands. So, we have a huge variety of different relationships. And this is crucial to the result of the work. I’m personally working closely at this moment with Fendi and Celine. We just started an important project with the watchmaker Swatch. And I’m also working on the atelier segment, which is launching Elie Saab, which is our first brand in this category that comes from haute couture. It is another adventure working on this project translating the higher standards of these brands in this category.

How do you negotiate the relationship with brands that have an existing identity and how do you develop compatible designs within that?

Our goal is to protect and interpret in the best way, the value of each individual brand. The goal is to connect and marry with each singular brand and enter into the DNA of the design and the design language of each singular department and work with the creative department of the brand. Our goal is about relationships so that we can build faith chains and attractive partnerships and then the design comes. There is definitely a risk of failure, it is possible to make mistakes, but if the relationship is strong you can move forward. I think Safilo is quite unique in the way it works this way in the system of large brands working under license agreements. At least in terms of product development and we are recognized for this quality and way of working.

It was interesting to see how Safilo chose to present their latest eyewear designs by grouping them across brand segments and relating them to larger trends in the larger fashion and consumer retail industry. For example, Athleisure, you had interpreted that. Can you talk about some trends you are keeping an eye on?

There is a natural inspiration that comes from our designers and myself as well. We are traveling, we surf the internet, we all have antennas to research what is going on. At the same time, we also have a consumer trend analysis team. They connect with us and confirm with designers what the trends really are for the consumer two years in the future. Most of the time, we start with the aesthetic, of course, but this team starts with the consumer behavior. Many times, this doesn’t mean that it is a different aesthetic but it means that it connects more with the people and the way they live and they way they purchase products they love. We match our instinctive impulses and attraction to trends with the research and the result is what you saw last night.

We figure out the main groups of tendencies in the next years and then we design and divide it into three main areas. Of course Athleisure, and everything to do with technical gear, with functional elements, and with performance materials is a trend. First of all, it is a trend from a consumer perspective because people love to focus on wellbeing and in the meantime, the industry is following these ideas which are coming from these areas—from sports into the fashion sector. So that’s why many times you might be surprised to see brands like Givenchy and Dior doing a lot of stuff mixing materials which come from different environments.

Carrera is also one of the brands, which we own and it has sixty years of history in sports. Carrera started in 1956 for sports like golf and skiing and then for bikers and then, of course sunglasses as well. So, we’ve had the chance to revamp this brand and connect it with the trend of sports and lifestyle and urban athletic attitude. I think the match there is perfect. We can provide products that belong to fashion but also products that belong to lifestyle or in the mass target group like Polaroid, within the same spirit of treating the aesthetic, different price positions and technologies, but each of them are provide a touch of this attitude on lifestyle.

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What is your opinion on the differences between men’s and women’s eyewear?

Today it’s really interesting because of these genderless attitudes, which is a megatrend overall, it’s really bringing a bit of a mix, where at the very end when you go to the front shape, or the color, or the material, in many brands they can fit for everyone. I would also say that last night, many of the sunglasses you say or optical were equally wearable for her as well. And then you have some brands, such as Fendi or MaxMara, which have been designed for women since the beginning and there is no doubt that their product is dedicated to ladies. But if I take ten years ago as a benchmark, even in this amount of time there is an incredible proposal on the agenda. Until five or six years ago, there was a distinction between the two and few products had this interchangeability approach. Now, it is much more common and for many brands it is even a priority. It reflects the society and the way of living. Many countries are treating women equally and humanity is evolving and the sense of the family. It is really a human transformation and it is reflected in small things like products as well.

Thanks to Nicola’s look inside the eyewear design world from his experience at Safilo, what we learned is that it is not an easy task—it might seem simple enough to garner attention with bold colors and fad technologies and materials, but taking a well-known brand image and subtly adjusting and updating it is a much more complicated process, one that Safilo and its creative director Nicola Bonaventura are the undisputed experts at.

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