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Friday / August 19.
Homemifashion4Contra1 High Fashion with a Twist

4Contra1 High Fashion with a Twist

The petite Spanish woman sitting in front of me at Silmo, among glass skulls adorned with brightly coloured eyewear, is Lucia Perez. She is the creative and entrepreneurial mind behind the brand 4Contra1, which is symbolised by the Celtic triskele, a traditional element of protection and a device used to grant favours and give blessings. I asked Lucia about the origins of her brand and her plans for its evolution.

How did 4Contra1 come about?

I’d just had my third child – I have three daughters – and I’d quit working with my husband, at our company Visual Global, to make jewellery. I did that for two years and then I noticed an opportunity to develop a new brand of eyewear.

At the time, eyewear fashion had dramatically changed. Retro styling was in fashion but the frames that were available were produced to a very high level of quality and they were very expensive. I thought it would be a good idea to design a collection that wasn’t so expensive but still had the quality. So I developed 4Contra1 in 2011.

I design for all ages – from six-year-olds to 90-year-olds.

Have you always designed eyewear?

I have always been very, very creative. I have made jewellery and handcrafts since I was young and at Visual Global, where we design, manufacture and distribute eight eyewear brands, I have always designed the frames as well as doing the purchasing.
My husband is an optician, which means he has a good knowledge of frame fit.

Who do you design your eyewear for?

I design for all ages – from six-year-olds to 90-year-olds. That in itself is quite difficult because you need to design shapes and select colours to suit so many different face types.

What differentiates 4Contra1?

The eyewear I design for 4Contra1 is totally different from other brands on the market. For example, we have integrated vividly coloured illustrations on the inside of the temples, such as a gun, a bus and a scooter. These drawings are exclusive to our brand and highly creative but they are also discretely positioned so that even the least adventurous client isn’t afraid to wear them.

The process we use to print these drawings on the temples is complicated. First we prime the temples with a product that really showcases the vivid colours of the drawing. Then each temple is inserted into a machine, which prints the drawings onto the acetate. A final coat with an essential oil gives the drawing its
shine and unique quality.

Another 4Contra1 difference is the fit. Because my husband is trained as an optician, and together we have a lot of experience in eyewear design and manufacture, we understand how to
design a great frame and ensure it is comfortable to wear.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration for design comes from anything and anywhere – when I go into the street, anything I see can be an inspiration. I might be in the markets, with my kids, at a skate-park, in the surf, or looking at different websites – it’s all inspiration to me.

Where is 4Contra1 manufactured?

I design the frames in Spain and they are made in China. This enables us to produce big quantities (approx. 500 frames in each model) that are good quality but can be sold at a mid-range price. Doing so enables us to distribute 4Contra1 to many countries.

The lenses for 4Contra1 sunglasses are very, very good quality – we use a nylon polarised 2mm lens with an anti-reflection coating inside. They are made by the best factory in China.

How do you maintain quality?

We have been using the same manufacturer in China for many years and so maintaining quality is not difficult for us. For others with less experience, I believe manufacturing in China is not so easy… you have to be able to explain your needs very well.

How do you compete with the larger global manufacturers?

It is difficult to compete with the largest brands in the world – we can only do this by producing good design at a good price.

How do you approach the design process?

I make all my designs on the computer – I prefer this approach (to hand drawing), it is easier for me.

My first drawing on the computer is always the same as the product that comes back from the manufacturer because I know a lot about the production of frames. I know what I can make, I know the capacity of the production line in the factory in China, I know what will work… and so usually, what I want is what I finally get.

What are the new trends coming through in eyewear?

Over the last year we have seen a lot of colour in frames. This will continue but what will change is the materials being used. There is more metal coming in frames, although acetate will still be big. The mirror lenses will continue for the next year but not for any longer than that. I have seen coloured sunglass lenses coming which are not mirrored, in blue, orange and yellow for example, and I think these are going to become more popular.

In my next collection, you’ll see new shapes and new colours – lots of new colours.

Distributed exclusively by Optique Line (AUS) 03 9853 0796 or visit www.optiqueline.com.au