Take a Walk on the Wild Side

We are all captivated by people that think outside the box, and places, ideas and products that make our imagination run wild. Totally individual, unique, and sometimes even eccentric, these are the people that we admire because they aren’t afraid to explore, reinvent, and go on an adventure to discover that truly great inspiration takes courage to turn into success.

Wild Precision: Claudia Brotons

CLAUDIA BROTONS
Creative Director at KALEOS
Barcelona, Spain
Founded in 2013
www.kaleoscollection.com

“Fashion is a form of expression, all our customers can be reflected in the spirit of KALEOS.”

4SEE Profile Claudia Brotons
CLAUDIA BROTONS
Creative Director at KALEOS

Claudia Brotons is the Creative Director of Spanish Eyewear Brand KALEOS. Meeting co-founder Joan Gassó while studying a Bachelor of Business Administration, Brotons’ experience in fashion has been shaped by time working for high street fashion brand Zara at the Inditex Headquarters in Spain, and a Master’s Degree in Fashion from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan. A new mother, Brotons balances her family life with her irrepressible passion for classic style through modern design innovation. She joined 4SEE for the following special interview.

Describe yourself in three words

Contemporary fashion house.

You have made a big splash in the already very competitive eyewear industry, thanks in part to your abundant experience in fashion. We’re curious to find out your mission for Kaleos and exactly what kind of fashion experience you are bringing to your customers?

Fashion is a form of expression and this is what I bring from my previous experience to KALEOS. A wide collection in which everyone can find an accessory, to extol your personality.

I understand the brand as a place to find that something that helps you to be more you in your day to day. That’s why the collection is so wide and often different from each other, all our customers can be reflected in the spirit of KALEOS.

Your tasteful and contemporary yet unique style has led to an immediate success. Did it catch you by surprise?

We started the brand as a separate project while Juan [Gassó, CEO] and I maintained our respective jobs. We wanted it to become our main project, but didn’t know what it would be so soon. That is to say that it was a success, maybe in such a short time was the surprising thing.

You have recently launched a clothing collection. How has it been coming along?

A very long process. Since KALEOS started, we have always felt like a fashion brand; I have never stopped having ideas for complete looks and campaigns. I design them and I think about the themes. So once the brand was settled, we thought it was the right time to simply expand what I think has always been the brand.

Where do you draw your inspirations? Who is your favorite style icon? What trends are you intrigued by now and for the next collection?

I work mainly in the KALEOS office, my office is on the third floor and there is a lot of light, it is an incredible place to work. I especially like the afternoons when part of the team has left and I can be 100% designing. If you look at my Pinterest I have a lot of style icons, but lately Julie Pelipas has me quite in love, her casual simplicity and elegance I love. We’re working on much more rectangular and hard shapes than exaggerated ones, giving the glasses a lot of personality.

Wild thing – What were your wildest experiences along the way? Any words of wisdom you have received?

At the first [eyewear] fair we did, we sold all the stock, which was really impressive! And advice… I think that not losing our essence is really important.

Ethical, Sustainability – What do you think we can do to build a more sustainable future?

Our plan is to have the best qualities so that our product lasts, with this constant: to create to last, we promote responsible, lasting and conscious consumption. Little by little all industries will suffer irreversible changes in this sense.

Technology – Any interest in applying technology to your eyewear?

At the moment we are not exploring this path, but who knows!

In ten years where do you want to be?

The same but better! With a bigger team and working to improve and extend KALEOS to spaces and places we don’t even imagine now.

You have recently given birth. You are a mother, designer, founder, and the list goes on. How do you keep the balance between work and life? Any special message for women out there?

I’m lucky I have an office close to home. But I think in the end the message is that with good organization and a good team, anything is possible. Sometimes it takes longer and you have to be patient, but that’s what gives women a certain super power, a different tactical vision and implementation is invincible.

Hirotaka Nakagawa eyewear designer Tokyo JÖRGEN AXELVALL

Original Thinking

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography JÖRGEN AXELVALL

In our age of information inspiration is at our fingertips. But where does true originality come from? We selected some of the most forward-thinking, creative, and authentic innovators in art, design, fashion, and culture to tell us about their perspective on the defining qualities of originality. Innovative, essential, exciting, or eccentric, these are people who are relying on their roots and paving their own way in a world full of strong competition.

HIROTAKA NAKAGAWA, EYEWEAR DESIGNER in Tokyo
Original Simple Quality | Beauty is more than the sum of ten parts

“For this project we positioned our goal of achieving beauty at the same level as ‘functionality.’ This is where our originality lies.”

Hirotaka Nakagawa eyewear designer Tokyo JÖRGEN AXELVALL
10eyevan.com

We at 4SEE are all fan of your eyewear for its intricate design and meticulous details. Tell us more about your eyewear product, 10 eyevan.
Evolving around the concept of the ‘beautiful tools,’ 10 eyevan is eyewear that achieves functionality and design that I think are purely beautiful, based on my aesthetics. I believe beautiful tools are made out of the beautiful fine parts. Going through various considerations and many tryouts over three years, 10 eyevan was born based on a total of 10 outstanding parts.

What makes your design original?
Usually, functionality such as ‘durability,’ “ease of use’ and ‘lightness’ is the priority when it comes down to the so-called best tools, but with 10 eyevan, “gracefulness” is incorporated.
Beauty and artistry are not always necessary when creating tools, but for this project we positioned our goal of achieving beauty at the same level as ‘functionality.’ This is where our originality lies.

What have you learned from designing 10 eyevan?
I have over 20 years experience, as a machine tool manufacturer, at an optical store, I have been involved in all aspects of sales, marketing & strategy and design, resulting in 10 eyevan.

Hirotaka Nakagawa eyewear designer Tokyo JÖRGEN AXELVALL
10eyevan.com

What were the most difficult challenges along the way?
For those who are in craftsmanship works, simplicity and originality are the most difficult themes to tackle. We at 10 eyevan are always challenging these themes.

What did you do before your current role?
I was involved in planning and design for a wide variety of eyewear brands. In parallel with 10 eyevan, I have been designing EYEVAN 7285 since 2013.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I am influenced by artificial objects such as architectural objects, industrial products as well as natural materials; anything I see can be influential.

Do you think of original being “essential” or “innovative”?
If you are involved in making items considering ease of use and durability, your creative thinking and technology evolve naturally. These processes are reflected in new products leading it to it being original as a result.

Hirotaka Nakagawa eyewear designer Tokyo JÖRGEN AXELVALL
10eyevan.com

What advice do you have for people to stand out from the crowd?
If you strongly hold the belief that you want to make things different, thinking and actions naturally follow. As a result, there will be something that didn’t exist before.

In ten years where do you want 10 eyevan to be?
Since new collections come out every year or year and a half, so in 10 years, the sixth collection will be about to be released, but to be honest, I can’t think that far… We apply highly special ideas and technical methods to each collection, and skilled workers and manufacturers play a big role. I’d like to strive for a long time, considering these facts.

Tell us about your favorite eyewear and why?
It is hard to pick a favorite! All 10 eyevan models, which are shaped by my ideals.

More info at: 10eyevan.com

Ready for Liftoff

For the speed issue we take a look at forward-thinking disruptors and innovators from the startup capitals of the world. These are the people behind the big ideas that are changing the future, coming up with new ways to look at old problems, and in the process inspiring us by their entrepreneurial spirit and their ambition to execute change.

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Fotografin CHARLOTTE KRAUSS

DANIEL SZABO, DANIEL MIKO & SEBASTIAN ZENETTI, YOU MAWO
Innovative Individual Design | Completely Customized 3D-printed Eyewear for All

Company: You Mawo
Position: Founders & CEOs
Location: Konstanz, Germany
Founded: 2016
Website: www.youmawo.com

“Impossible does not exist! At least you should not focus on the obstacles but on the possibilities in every situation.” 

What is YOU MAWO?
YOU MAWO is an eyewear company for 100%-individualized eyewear frames from Konstanz, Germany founded in 2016 by Sebastian Zenetti, Daniel Miko, Daniel Szabo, and Stephan Grotz.

What is your mission?

We come from the eyewear industry and had the feeling to do something new and meaningful. The answer was the inception of YOU MAWO, which is derived from the English “your magical world.“ Our claim was: Nobody should wear uncomfortable glasses anymore. The perfectly fitting glasses, that was the original idea of our journey.

What makes your company different?

We are the first company in the world to produce 100%-individualized 3D-printed frames with laser-sintering technology based on face scans. Our technology and the parameters are much more mature and, through the cooperation with world market leaders in 3D-printing, we are able to bring this quality into the stores and thus to the customers. Recently we have received several innovation awards (such as the German Business Award and the German Innovation Award), which also brings us a new wave of customers abroad.

What were the most difficult challenges along the way? 

The biggest requirements were to develop this perfect scan. The next challenge was the extremely fast growth of YOU MAWO. We have grown from 4 employees to 45, we now work together with more than 400 opticians worldwide and therefore setting up a logistics system that works was not very easy. Especially, since day one we wanted to finance everything ourselves and without capital contributions from outside. A healthy growth for the company was and is important to us.

What does it mean to be a startup?
It means you are working in highly motivated, sometimes unconventional, and very inspirational surroundings in which everybody can bring his/her skills to another level. Furthermore, for us it means that we have a certain aspiration to create innovation for the optics industry.

Is it important to be first or fastest? 

We have been the first brand in optics to develop this kind of parameters, scan and concept which was important for us, because we had the time to build up long-term relationships and trust between us and the opticians that sell our products. 

What advice do you have for people with a great idea who want to start their own business? 

The most important thing is that you are willing to walk many many extra miles and not be discouraged by the many small and large setbacks. When we started working on the idea of YOU MAWO 4 years ago in a shared flat room in Munich, we were far from aware of where the journey would take us and how strenuous it would be. Last but not least, the most important thing is the team! We have a team of founders with different skills and only because everyone contributes his expertise from different areas, a flexible and promising company could develop.

Photo: courtesy of You Mawo

XAVIER GARCIA: A FLAIR FOR GENUINE BARCELONA DESIGN

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text JUSTIN ROSS

Speed isn’t always about being fast. Barcelona-brand Xavier Garcia is a firm believer in a “slow design” process, recognizing the time it takes to perfect a product and the gradual nature of the evolution of a brand. Over the past ten years, Xavier Garcia has made his eponymous company a symbol of his own exquisite sense of design, a reflection of Barcelona’s diverse visual cultures, and a person and a brand that embodies all of the characteristics of Barcelona’s 21st century authenticity, charm, and down-to-earth cool. The story of Xavier Garcia is also the story of Barcelona—of rebirth and regeneration spurred by creativity and innovation.

Xavier Garcia’s new headquarters are at the epicenter of Barcelona’s newest destination neighborhood, the 22@, which, like the brand, is constantly in a state of dynamic transformation. This is a neighborhood where many of Barcelona’s best fashion ateliers and startups have chosen to set up shop in converted industrial lofts—a vibe that feels very familiar to us from Berlin, only that they have one major advantage … the beach is just minutes away.

Xavier: “In this area, there were many light industries before. Now people are coming here, artists, designers, and fashion people. Also tech startups.”

The 22@ in Barcelona is many things: a symbol of modernity, a converted industrial neighborhood, and a proud part of Barcelona’s post-Olympic regeneration success story. Nuria Antolí, Xavier Garcia’s Brand Manager / Head of Communications, and an integral part of the Xavier Garcia success story for the past decade, has a deep sense of belonging to the area:

Nuria: “Before, during the Franco era, the factories had their backs to the sea—Barcelona had to be blind to the beach. When we had the Olympic games here in Barcelona, our mayor had a project to rebuild this whole area. All the factories that were just three meters in front of the beach were torn down. Now, this area is just so beautiful because it has become a very residential area directly in front of the beach.”

Part of the charm of Xavier Garcia is its authentic connection with Barcelona and the city’s spirit of creativity and freedom of expression. When it comes time for the creative marketing team to build out their promotions for the season they always draw from the resource that is closest to them—the talented people from their networks of friends, musicians, designers, illustrators, and artists among them. They have collaborated with well-known artists such as Javier Mariscal who made the mascot of the Olympic games, which the city hosted in 1992. Other times they have got in at the ground level with budding artists and illustrators like Conrad Roset, who, since illustrating Xavier Garcia’s main promotional campaign in 2012, has gone on to worldwide fame and recognition. The uniquely creative character of this brand shines through and it is owing to Xavier Garcia’s deep roots in Barcelona’s creative community.

Xavier: “If you live here you are influenced by the city” Nuria: “Xavier Garcia, of course, it is a brand but behind it is a person that gets influenced by the design, the culture, the activities, the music, everything that is happening here.”

The building which houses Xavier Garcia’s headquarters has a strong sense of history as well. It hails from the seventies and some of their neighbors are still the original tenants including a button maker directly next door. Opting to convert a portion of their office space into production space, the brand new atelier is a kind of twenty-first-century creative lab for hands-on experimentation, with all the tools you would need—including a laser cutter to rapidly turn designs into tangible prototypes. This also allows the design team at Xavier Garcia to get a feel for the curves and angles that are so important to both the look and feel of a pair of frames. And so, in a way, Xavier Garcia is keeping up this tradition of combining design, creativity, and production under one roof.

Xavier: “Many years ago I designed jewelry with these tools. Then the eyewear business became so absorbing that I didn’t have time, but now I’m encouraging the design team to leave the computer and begin doing things by hand because you can see so many things that are not on the screen.”

It makes sense that an eyewear company started by a designer trained in the meticulous art of jewelry construction would value aspects of materiality and physicality. With this in-house atelier space, Xavier Garcia is emphasizing the importance of that creative place where technology meets human hands.

Xavier: “I’ve been developing design always and our design process is really powerful in terms of image and in terms of concept. It is totally free, this is what I like.” Nuria: “It is encouraging for the design team, it is like fresh air, an open mind with the power of creativity 100%”

There is a palpable buzz in the office while we visit. As agents and salespeople are busily chatting away, delivery boxes are being packed and piled ready to be shipped out across the world from their on-site packing and shipping center, which processes orders and distribute them to their stores and partners in Europe, Canada the USA, and Australia. It is here that the 60+ styles (30 acetate, 30 metal and 10 sunglasses) that make up the entire range of Xavier Garcia frames—from a recently released monochrome collection to the new adventures in metal frames and, of course, the exactingly chosen, colorful acetates they are famous for—are carefully stored and kept, waiting for their eager customers to take them home at their destination.

The workday starts early at 8am but, in exchange, Fridays are half-days to get out and enjoy the beautiful Barcelona weather. This leads to a culture that is both laid-back and professional, with a real sense of purpose.

Xavier: “Barcelona is an open-minded city with a Mediterranean lifestyle. What does that mean… I’m not sure, it is hard to put into words but it is inside me.”

It might be hard to put into words because rather than any one thing it is a feeling—a culture that values beauty and an emotion that brings a smile to your face when you look at or look through a pair of Xavier Garcia glasses. These are exciting times for this quintessentially Barcelona brand and for Xavier Garcia himself. They are tight-lipped about it for now but they are hard at work on a new project to showcase what the brand is best at—creating easygoing and joyful designs that represent creativity and craftsmanship at its finest with the visionary reach of the man who created the brand and whose personal name is on every pair of glasses.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham
How Passion and Prowess Transformed a Style Icon into a Respected Fashion Mogul

Text JUSTIN ROSS

Victoria Beckham continues to defy expectations. Her celebrity profile started in the 1990s when she skyrocketed to fame as part of the global sensation that was the Spice Girls. Even as the girl group’s fame and popularity started to fade, Victoria remained in the spotlight. During this time, Victoria’s penchant for fashion and adventurous spirit were often on display as her image hardly left the cover of fashion magazines around the world. Her bold spirit and risk-taking attitude landed her on both the best and worst dressed lists but she never veered away from her personal tastes and penchant for experimentation with style.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

For many, this type of fame is not only fleeting, but difficult to endure, but for Victoria Beckham it was just a starting point. When it was announced the Victoria Beckham was to design and produce a fashion line under her own name, some were skeptical. Rather than dissuade her from delving into the business of fashion it seems to have had the opposite effect. She created a critically acclaimed and highly successful collection of clothes. What some assumed would be a short-lived foray into fashion has instead become an enduring, and growing, detail-driven fashion empire.

As her eponymous brand grows and continue to receive rave reviews, Victoria has ventured further afield into areas that she loves such as eyewear and accessories. The same core values that led her to success in her fashion brand drive her approach and her aesthetic in these newer businesses: to make what you love, and to pay good attention to the details in order to stand out.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

With all of these business ventures, along with her well-known charity work, you might think that she gets caught up in her whirlwind of activities, but thanks to her well-honed organizational skills she is actually very very down to earth, taking each day as it comes, and always finding time to relax in the company of her family and four wonderful kids. 4SEE delved into the wonderful world of Victoria Beckham to find out more about the secrets to her success and the stunning results of her hard work and passion for fashion and eyewear.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

4SEE: What role does eyewear play in your wardrobe? How do you choose what pair to wear and when?
Victoria Beckham: I am genuinely very passionate about eyewear – I love glasses and to be honest I rarely leave the house without a pair. Having worn them so often and for so long I know now what suits me, and tend to have a few favourite pairs which I alternate between – an oversized oval shape and a classic square style are two of my go-tos.

4SEE: How do you innovate in eyewear? What materials or techniques are you looking to in the future?
Victoria: Within my own collection, I think it’s absolutely crucial that we always use the most cutting edge technology available and the very best materials possible. I particularly love the bespoke rose gold anti reflective coating on our lenses, which are made by Zeiss. I like how they combine beauty with functionality, and I’m always on the look out for other great ideas or innovations which will do the same.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

4SEE: If you could pick just three words to describe the eyewear that you produce, what would they be?
Victoria: Contemporary, handcrafted, refined.

4SEE: What is your favorite pair of glasses that you have produced from your own line?
Victoria: It would have to be the pair that’s named after me – The VB! When I was creating The VB, I said I wanted to make a frame that felt like an instant classic; like that one style you’d always wanted to own that would go with absolutely everything in your wardrobe. It’s a shape that I’ll be wearing for years to come – it’s timeless.

4SEE: You previously had relationships with accessories and eyewear brands, how does it feel to be producing your own vision now?
Victoria: I feel very proud of what we’ve achieved. Since we launched 6 years ago I think we’ve managed to develop a distinctive and desirable eyewear brand, and it has just gone from strength to strength. In line with this growth, last spring we brought the manufacturing process in house – working with a number of specialised local workshops in a little town in Italy. This means we now have even more control over all aspects of the development process, and can source our own exclusive materials.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

4SEE: How many glasses and sunglasses do you own overall? I’ve lost count! I’m a bit of a magpie when Victoria: it comes to eyewear and have built up quite a collection. I’m always on the lookout for interesting design elements – the perfect tortoiseshell, or eye catching mirrored lenses. My own mirrored aviators have been incredibly popular – we have such a range of colours available now that you could have a different one for each day of the week, if not month!
4SEE: How do you juggle your many different roles?
Victoria: It can be hard – but then I’m sure it’s hard for every working mother. I absolutely love my job, but my family comes first – and I have an incredibly well organized diary so that I can plan everything around them. Someone still needs to do the school run and the parents’ evenings! It can be tricky but it works out in the end.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

4SEE: What do you like to do for fun to unwind?
Victoria: Spend time with my family. They keep me grounded and make me laugh, which is the best stress buster.

4SEE: Do you have any superstitions?
Victoria: I don’t walk underneath ladders, and if I see a magpie I always do the salute thing!

4SEE: What is your personal motto?
Victoria: Always work hard and trust your instincts.

Photo: courtesy of Victoria Beckham

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