“Etnia Barcelona is the result of the heritage of three generations”
The independent brand shares its history, and how its city location and three core pillars have forged its unique character, with OT
26 January 2024
Three facts about Etnia Barcelona
- An independent eyewear brand based in Barcelona
- Founded in 2001
- The brand crafts eyewear around the pillars of art, quality, and colour.
Etnia Barcelona – behind the scenes
Can you tell us about where Etnia Barcelona is based?Barcelona has forged our character and our way of doing things. It is an innovative, rebellious and open-minded city that evolves at the speed of light, but never forgets where it comes from – just like us.
When was the company founded?
Etnia Barcelona is the result of the heritage of three generations. Fulgencio Ramo, the grandfather of the founder of Etnia Barcelona, pioneered the family’s passion for glasses. For years, Fulgencio worked at the production plant of an eyewear company in Barcelona until he finally opened his own factory in the 1950s. Josep Pellicer, the second generation, rapidly acquired all of the know-how of the business to take over the reins. In 1980, he designed, manufactured and distributed the glasses all over Spain. It was not until the 1990s when David Pellicer, the owner of Etnia Barcelona, joined the family company with the dream of creating something new. His aim was clear: he wanted to create a brand. That’s how Etnia Barcelona was born in 2001.
What makes Etnia Barcelona and its approach, or its eyewear, unique?
On the one hand, Etnia Barcelona brought colour to a product that, up until that point, had only been brown or black. We are pioneers in the study of colour, with more than 500 own references inspired by the world of fashion and art.
On the other hand, we are known for our creative campaigns and collaborations. Art inspires our way of seeing the world; we craft our story through collaborations with legends of the art world, from David Bowie, to Araki, Jean Michel Basquiat, Ignasi Monreal or Klein.
#BeAnArtist is our watchword. It is a call to express oneself freely through design. Etnia Barcelona embraces colour, art and culture but, more than anything else, it is a name intimately bound to the city in which it was born and has thrived. Barcelona stands for a lifestyle open to the world, nothing more nor less than a question of attitude.
How is Etnia Barcelona approaching sustainability and social responsibility?We are on our way to a more sustainable and ethical brand. Among other projects:
Our frames are made with Mazzucchelli acetate. This material comes from cellulose acetate, which has raw materials of cotton and wood. Additionally, this material offers superior resistance and malleability, which provides maximum comfort and durability.
Our factories follow the same codes of ethics as our headquarters in Barcelona, our flagship store, and those of our affiliates. We are renovating all of our offices to create more sustainable and natural offices that improve our employees’ working lives.
The cafeteria at our main office is a sustainable initiative that promotes a healthy lifestyle by cooking with local, organic ingredients. In January 2023, EcoCook, the first consulting and certification programme for a sustainable food industry, awarded us the Silver Level 4 certificate. Globally, this category had never before been achieved.
What is the impact of the Etnia Foundation?Etnia Barcelona Foundation fights for the right to eyesight for the entire world. Since 2016, we have been helping improve the eyesight of people who do not have access to appropriate eye care, due to a lack of resources. Among other projects, we give eye exams to school-aged boys and girls around the world who are at risk of social exclusion, and we have launched a network of non-profit opticians run by women in developing countries in order to provide prescription glasses to the local population at below-market prices.
Beyond the brand
What is Etnia Eyewear Culture?In 2022, the Etnia Barcelona brand created the Etnia Eyewear Culture group, which incorporates, in addition to Etnia Barcelona, three independent brands to meet new consumer trends and consolidate its position in the eyewear sector.
What consumer purchasing habits have you observed?On one hand, there is a growing trend towards sustainability and ethical practices. Consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that prioritise eco-friendly materials and responsible manufacturing processes. On the other hand, there is a noticeable emphasis on unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect individual styles.
What are the biggest opportunities that you see for eyewear brands currently?
Given the increasing awareness of eye health and the impact of digital screens on vision, educating consumers on the importance of regular eye exams and providing high-quality, protective eyewear options can be a significant value-add.
At Etnia Barcelona we are aware that the human eyes are more sensitive than the skin. So, why not use innovative technology to protect them? All our lenses include an HD filter. These high-definition lenses increase the depth of field of vision and intensify colours. Along with the benefits from the HD filter, the photochromic filter reacts to UV rays and darkens according to the intensity of the sun. On the other hand, the polarized filters block out the bothersome shine and reflections that can occur on the sea, in the snow, and on the road.
Additionally, Etnia Barcelona’s HD lens is made of mineral glass and is created from three of the Earth's rare elements: Neodymium, Praseodymium and Erbium. These elements enhance image quality, increase contrast and provide an exceptional visual experience, as well as extreme resistance.