This week, we’re hoping for sun and taking a closer look at the fashion eyewear industry. From killer rookie companies like KAIBOSH, to the evolution of eyewear on the streets, expect to find it all here on We Are The Market. To kick it off, we chatted with Iben Bergstrøm of Norways coolest eyewear company, KAIBOSH. Scroll down to check out the product and hear the story behind the industries latest must-have accessory.
Tell me about KAIBOSH – when was it started? And what is the mission?
KAIBOSH is the brainchild of FLO Scandinavia, a Norwegian eyewear company with over 50 years of experience in the eyewear business. So although KAIBOSH was only officially launched in May 2013 we had been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. Our founders, Helge and Michelle, identified a group of eyewear users whose needs they felt weren’t being fulfilled by the traditional optical channels; so the idea was to create a brand of fashion forward eyewear which was available at a great price and sold in different distribution channels – on-line, in fashion stores etc. To us eyewear is an accessory just as much as shoes, bags or jewelry, and should be as easily available and as affordable. We want our customers to play, by being able to go into a fashion shop and buy a new dress, and pick out eyewear to go with their look – for the same price as a pair of jeans.
You have a unique business model – tell us a bit about it
The word KAIBOSH means ´to put a stop to something. It’s a term with a revolutionary undertone, and therefore reflects our disruptive business model. At the moment we have two distribution channels, our webshop and selected, independent fashion stores. For our customers eyewear belongs in the fashion world, and should be accessible to them where they like to shop.
Having a really strong sunglass collection is very important for building the brand as well and helps us reach a wider audience than the optical frames – so if you don´t need prescription eyewear you can still have a part of KAIBOSH!
How has business been lately?
Well the brand is only 6 months old so it’s early days, but sales have passed all our expectations and we can’t believe the buzz that has been created around the brand already. We are really excited about the stores that are stocking the collection and new ones coming on line for the SS14 season.
There’s been a rise in interest in fashion eyewear- do you find that to be true?
Definitely, we find that more and more people are starting to demand eyewear that reflects their personality and style. It’s completely understandable that people are super happy when they hear about KAIBOSH and find styles they absolutely love and which are affordable at the same time. They also like that we have a really easy pricing system – there are only three price levels and you know exactly what you get, no surprises.
The eyewear industry is changing, and to us it’s no wonder. Our creative director Helge often states; Eyewear is placed in the middle of your face, and it’s the first thing people notice about you. People have a clothing and shoe wardrobe, so why shouldn’t you have an eyewear wardrobe?
Whats driving the trend?
There´s no longer one general trend, there are many different styles and tons of micro-trends. With street style photography personal style has become more and more important, and people tend to pick what direction they like and incorporate it with their own style. We see the same trend in eyewear. A lot of new eyewear companies have popped up, because there is a demand for fashion eyewear to go with people’s personal style.
There is also another aspect of the interest in fashion eyewear. See, traditionally, buying eyewear resembles more of a duty than a fun experience, and many people don’t head for the optician until they’re sitting on the teachers lap to see the blackboard, or their better half tells them it’s not normal to watch TV from a 20 cm distance. The optician also caters for a very wide target group, literally from 3 to 100 years old, and they have other responsibilities related to the health of your eyes. We´re focusing on a smaller segment of people and leave the medical side of eyewear to the experts so we can offer a more targeted concept which appeals to that group of people.
Tell us about your manufacturing process – where is KAIBOSH made? What materials do you use?
We are proud to say that all KAIBOSH frames are made in China in factories we have been working with for many years. The notion that Made in China means lower quality than Made in Italy or France is completely out-dated. All quality levels are available in China – its just a matter of working with the right people and finding the right quality level and approach for you. KAIBOSH eyewear is of comparable quality to the major well-known brand names sold in your local optician.
At the moment the KAIBOSH collection is largely made of acetate. Some of our acetates are made locally and some are imported from Italy – it all depends where we can get the colours and finishes we want. Sometimes we tailor-make our own acetates and sometimes we use stock colours. There is an enormous selection of stock acetates to choose from around the world so sometimes the cleverest move is to see the potential in something that´s been lying in the corner of the stock for years untouched..
Tell us about your packaging as well
We love to talk about our packaging; it’s something we’re really proud of and get a lot of great feedback on. It’s inspired by fast moving consumer goods like groceries; where you see something you like, pick it off of the shelf and go. We felt this fitted in well with our concept of making eyewear more accessible and easy to buy. Our packaging reflects that mission.
Whats new for SS14?
For SS14 we’ll release two very interesting concepts. The first one is a co-lab we’ve done with Norwegian clothing brand HAIK. It’s a reversible sunglass called 2-WAY, with a different colour AND a different shape on each side. We don´t know of anyone who´s ever done a reversible sunglass before so we´re going to have a lot of fun with that.
For SS14 we’ll also release four new KAIBOSH models in some fresh new colours. Exciting times ahead…
Thanks! Check out KAIBOSH at Capsule Show, this upcoming season.