Originally from the Northern German state of Schwerin, Claas, of Berlin Specs is a fourth generation optician. I visited him at his shop in the heart of Berlin’s buzzing downtown Mitte district and asked him about the current eyewear trends over a delicious cup of coffee.
Despite his love for his profession, Claas is not an eyewear collector. His motto for eyewear is that “they must be absolutely beautiful on the face, not only in a display case.” His favorite glasses are “Hank” by Mykita, which were produced in cooperation with his store as a limited edition. “This is my all-rounder” Claas says. He is expecting to see more of such thinner frames made out of metal in upcoming seasons. “I love women with fine golden glasses. It is in stark contrast to the previous trend of thick frames. Nevertheless, I am still fond of large, thick frame glasses. Acetate glasses in champagne color with a touch of gold is totally chic!”
In offering advice to his customers, he does not think much of entrenched rules. He prefers to listen to his gut feeling. Spectacles need to match the style of a person but he would encourage trying something new with a bit of twist. He advises not to follow trends, instead he recommends a diversity of styles and a look that suits his or her individual style.
For a second pair of glasses, Claas strongly recommends to seek out a totally opposite style from the first pair. “It’s the same as picking your clothes. The more varieties you have, the more mix and match you can do.” He also thinks that evening eyewear is a must-have. “The glasses are there not to hide your face, but to show it!”
Garrett comes from a family chain of talent in eyewear business– his parents founded Oliver Peoples, and he grew up with an inherent passion for eyewear. ¨It´s a product that goes directly on an individual´s face, which is something everyone sees. So it´s an emotional experience for many shoppers and it´s nice to work with a product that is so special.¨
His personal collection consists of hundreds of glasses literally, which he uses for different occasions. But there are also some classics, such as Kinney by Garrett Leight that he always goes back to. When going for the second pair, he recommends trying a different look: ¨Just because you like the current pair, it doesn´t mean that it´s the only style that works on you. Try to get a tortoise frame if you own a black frame. Or try to get a smaller frame if you own a big one, or a thin frame if you own a thick one. Possibly trying a different material is good, too. Plastic vs. Metals and so on.¨
For this fall season, Garrett recommends mixed metals and acetates. He also suggests thin frames and interesting lenses, such as mirrored, matted and even sparkled lenses. As for the shape, he opts for well-fitted medium-sized frames.
Despite his love for glasses, he admits that there are occasions when they may not be the choice – such as wearing sunglasses at night, and when pairing optical glasses with formal events, stick to styles that are not too distracting, so you can let the dress do the talking.
Garrett Leight California Optical
165 S La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA
Tel +1 323 931 4018 www.garrettleight.com
Photography JÖRGEN AXELVALL @ W inc.
Fashion Director KEITH S. WASHINGTON
Hair Stylist KAZUYA MATSUMOTO @ W inc.
Makeup YOSHI-T @ Mondo-Artisit.com
4SEE presents collaboration with MYKITA and the 2014 Fall/Winter collection of TRUSSARDI, featuring a man in minimalism tailored style wonders around desolate streets of an abandoned city, Tokyo.
Sunglasses by MYKITA DECADES SUN PHILOMONE € 359, shirt and pants all by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA x MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA MMDUAL € 375, blazer, t-shirt, and leather by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA x MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA MMDUAL € 375, leather fur coat, shirt and grey tweed pants by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA DECADES SUN TRUMAN € 339, black sweater with leather piping, leather pants, and shoes by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA x MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA MMDUAL € 375, polo shirt and leather pants by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA x DAMIR DOMA DD1.2 € 395, long sleeve Henley shirt by TRUSSARDI
Sunglasses by MYKITA x DAMIR DOMA DD1.2 € 395, leather jacket and Henley shirt by TRUSSARDI
The ultimate shopping guide—our editorial team curated this year’s exquisite optical glasses and sunglasses in terms of color, design details, and materials. From distinct styles to classical shapes with a contemporary twist, here are our favorite frames of this year.
Photography: BERT SPANGEMACHER Interview: ANN FORD Glasses: MAKELLOS ME 9004
Ansgar Schmidt was born in Borken, Germany in 1971. He acquired a diploma in architecture in Cologne and he has been running a successful design shop, “s1 Architecture “ in Berlin, for the past 15 years together with his partner Henning Ziepke. His firm’s focus is on retail development and their works include the “14 oz.” stores in Berlin. They have won the Trade Association Germany’s “Store of the Year” HDE Award three times. 4SEE asked Ansgar about what makes good eyewear frames and store designs and his view on trends.
Let’s get started with an obvious question. What do you prefer, glasses or contact lenses?
With glasses you can shape your face. Glasses used to be considered like medicine, but nowadays they are more like a fashion statement to express own personality. Some people prefer wearing contact lenses because they are convenient, but there should be one perfect pair of glasses for each face, assuming they have a good consulting service. In the past few years, eyewear has become more and more important in the fashion world. For example, there is a new eyewear concept store in Berlin that offers only vintage eyewear. When buying furniture, it is important to find out the year it was made, and its origin and designer. Some people like to own an original piece. The same thing applies to glasses.
What do you think makes good eyewear design?
That is a difficult question! There is no such thing as one good eyewear design. There is only a good design that fits best to each individual. But whether glasses are a perfect match depends on what the market offers. That’s why it is important for customers to find a store where she or he can actually find something and try, or just browse.
Do customers still shop in store?
Competition with online stores is constantly growing, but the market protects itself. Glasses must first be tried on your own face. Buying glasses is still something very personal. Again, it is also a matter of what the market offers. If selections are reasonable and have enough appeal to customers, they will come into a store and come back again.
How should a store create an inviting and customer friendly atmosphere?
Clients and their well-being must come at the forefront – corresponding to their respectable environment, or it has to be hip. Optical stores used to look like doctors’ office, so it is relatively easy to find something that makes customers feel good.
But in what setting a client could feel pleasant and comfortable?
There are different types of people. Some feel comfortable in an industrial loft, while others prefer a cozy, warm atmosphere. It depends on the products I present and also on customers I’d like to reach – they could be anyone from young to old people or could be very specific and targeted customers.
Does it make any difference between big and small cities?
Small towns like Bocholt or Münster, or rural areas in Bavaria – they would require three completely different approaches. What is important is to analyze each optical store independently, who their customers are and what they are selling. I don’t want to apply a one-size fit all type of approach. People from rural communities might need more consulting while customers in Berlin have already a clear vision of what they want. In other words, opticians have to adjust a design concept depending on what customers want.
That’s why each optician requires different expertise.
Exactly. Some clients want to know more about products. Some of them are also interested in finding out the heritage of specific frames, who the designers are, or whose design they were influenced by. Or some clients want to buy iconic styles. Confident consumers have a totally different approach to fashion. These types of customers are found in rural areas as well as in cities.
And to what degree can architecture support what customers want?
We can offer optical storeowners a platform that helps them sell their spectacles.
How does that platform look like?
It has to correspond to that person. There is no use in designing a hip store if a storeowner doesn’t feel comfortable in it. For us the priority is to build a good surrounding for him or her in which they can present themselves well, but also show them new possibilities which might not have been clear before.
But how do you create such conditions?
First, our work is always to listen. Then we develop proposals reflecting the wishes of our client, the storeowner. The choice of floor, color and material manifests itself from there.
And that’s how a good store design emerges?
Yes, depending on the owner, their clientele and location. In some occasions, it could be useful to showcase certain glasses at the storefront. In back there could be space for fitting – preferably in a pleasant atmosphere. Knowledge about the design and the heritage of spectacles is also part of it. In another location I might need a straightforward design that addresses confident and informed consumers. But most importantly, a blueprint for stores does not exist. The focal point is always service.
According to you, what is trend?
A long-term trend: the store needs its own personality. Customers should feel right when they enter the store. Another trend is the usage of materials; the authenticity and the feel of the materials. This is totally the in thing right now: conscious usage of material and style, tradition in craftsmanship. And if it’s vintage, it has to be real, it can’t be fake vintage.
How about 10 years from now? Do you think retail stores will continue to exist?
I am firmly convinced that they will, because by now online platforms are already looking for physical stores to sell their products. This way dotcom companies can go local. In the long run there is going to be a mix of both. If I have to wear my glasses on a daily bases – for work and pleasure, then I need more than just a cheap pair of glasses I can find on the Internet. So then I need to go into a store and because of this, the concept of partnership has a future.