Dutch brand Ace & Tate has rapidly impacted the eyewear market with an unorthodox approach to manufacturing glasses and sunglasses. Affordability and quality have always been imperative, as has customer experience; these values are crucial to their success and customer loyalty.
Until recently, Ace & Tate was an online-only brand. However, having opened five physical locations in under a year, the brand faces new challenges; such as translating and manifesting their brand values into store design and operation.
With business doing so well online, we wanted to find out what sparked the labels decision to expand so quickly and how the shift went down. We spoke to Ace & Tate founder and CEO, Mark de Lange, to get the scoop.
How did you transition from an online only brand to one with five physical stores in less than a year?
An approach encompassing both online and offline channels has always been part of our plan. Our physical stores are an extension of our online-first model; we spend a lot of time combining and aligning both channels. We want our customers to shop in whatever way is most convenient.
We tested the water with pop-up stores which were a good way of understanding what Ace & Tate customers want from a store. Following positive feedback, opening permanent stores was the next logical step.
Customer experience is clearly a priority for Ace & Tate, how do you differentiate yourself from competitors?
It’s about exceeding expectations, offering a high-quality product with impeccable service, giving customers more than what they pay for.
Our company is about more than physical products, we are building a brand that our customers love by also providing outstanding value. We always strive to surprise, amaze and inspire.
Outside of the Netherlands, Berlin is the first city you've opened in permanently. How and why did you choose this city?
Berlin is a home away from home; we've been welcomed with open arms by the Berlin creative community since we first launched a pop-up space in 2014. We worked with local creatives and threw some fun parties along the way, so we have strong relationships there.
Your stores all have a different look and feel, what makes the Berlin store unique?
We worked on the interior with the Berlin-based design agency, New Tendency. We’ve worked together for a while, and the store is typical of the clean, minimalist aesthetic we’ve developed with them over the past two years.
The main feature for me is the free-standing wooden framework, which contrasts beautifully with the concrete walls.
You’ve recently released a product collaboration with NEW TENDENCY. What makes them the ideal partner and why are collaborations important to Ace & Tate?
We’ve developed a strong partnership working with New Tendency since our first Berlin pop-up in 2014. We see eye-to-eye but also challenge each other creatively.
Collaborations are a key part of our brand; we actively seek out partners that inspire us and invest a lot of time into these partnerships.
As part of the collaboration, you created a storage device inspired by a Japanese Bento box. Has the Japanese aesthetic influenced other Ace & Tate designs?
In the sense that we always try to keep things simple and strip back to the essentials, yes. We also spend an enormous amount of time on getting the product right - product quality is paramount to us.
What’s the focus now and what other projects are in the pipeline?
We have some very cool collaborations lined up, all of which I have to keep under wraps for now!
We recently launched the Ace & Tate Creative Fund, which supports people's creative passion projects and we’ve had a lot of applicants with very cool ideas. We’re excited to be announcing the first project this summer.
Our primary focus continues to be on doing the things we love, keeping things interesting for both ourselves and our audience.
Visit the Berlin flagship at the address below, and shop the Ace & Tate + NEW TENDENCY collab online or in-store now.
Ace & Tate Flagship Store Alte Schönhauser Straße 42 10119 Berlin
Find out more about Ace & Tate and their creative fund for emerging young artists.