Meet Elissa Velluto, a New York-based stylist and brand strategist focused on building out Lowercase's direct-to-consumer and sun businesses. As a former editor at Glamour and Vanity Fair, Elissa has extensive market knowledge for this undertaking and Lowercase, with its focus on classic techniques, domestic, small-batch manufacturing and use of vintage acetate, gives her a lot to work with.
I sat down with Elissa, wearing our Midi Skirt in White Poplin, and her unbelievably cute son Wilder, to talk about reviving the art of locally-made eyewear, manufacturing with integrity and how Lowercase's thirty-step process embodies slow fashion. I love this company.
Tell me about the founding of Lowercase - What inspired the company?
Lowercase was founded by my husband, Gerard Masci, and his co-founder, Brian Vallario, out of a love for American-made craftsmanship and an undying attention to detail. Gerard and Brian set out to revive the lost art of locally-made eyewear. Getting started was a labor of love - they built their Brooklyn factory from the ground up, having located the proper equipment on a trip to Italy. I help out with the look and feel through styling and brand strategy. I am also the resident cheerleader.
Lowercase prizes process and craftsmanship above all else. How is Lowercase's process different from other eyewear manufacturers?
The factory in Brooklyn is magical! And since Lowercase is the only brand that makes all of their eyewear in New York, all of Lowercase's master craftsmen have very different professional backgrounds from fine jewelry production to architecture. Almost all of the eyewear available on the market today is made in the same five overseas factories, so Lowercase takes an entirely different approach, building small batch, limited edition, locally made collections. From design conception to final product, it all happens in-house in Brooklyn, a completely innovative approach to manufacturing in general and certainly to eyewear.
What is the eyewear design process like?
The beauty of crafting everything in house is that Lowercase can be nimble to what its customers want and connect with. The designers experiment with new styles and colors. Every frame goes through a 30-step process that takes two weeks. I feel like "slow-fashion" is such a buzzword, but if you have ever wondered what that looks like in practice, come visit the Lowercase workshop. We have an open door policy where everyone is invited to see how their frames are made. Slow fashion is a key pillar towards sustainability.
As a relaunch, Coco Shop is interested in the process of taking something old and making it new again. How does Lowercase incorporate renewal into its business?
To make a pair of frames, Lowercase couples hand-crafting techniques with modern technologies - truly old world meets modern day. Many heritage brands were once manufactured in the states (even Ray Ban!), but we live in a world of mass eyewear conglomerates now. Lowercase sets out to not only make products with integrity, but also reignite a sense of wonder to the lost craft of eyewear and bring that consciousness to the consumer.
What makes you feel personally renewed and ready to take on what's next?
I feel very renewed by the depth of conversation around "sustainable" fashion. I think, for a very long time, the idea of sustainability was surface level, but I see consumers reengaging with how and where their fashion is made - including eyewear. This is an extremely important tenet to Lowercase. It is a respect for the process that produces the most beautiful frames on the market.