CANDID CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN VCPN’S BETH SCHLAU AND LEADING OPTICAL EXECUTIVES ABOUT THEIR PRODUCT STRATEGIES.
Moritz Krueger, CEO and Creative Director of MYKITA, founded the Berlin-based company in 2003 with Philipp Haffmans, Daniel Haffmans, and Harald Gottschling. With his inspired, visionary approach and determination, Moritz is responsible for the overall strategy of the company and its global expansion as well as overseeing MYKITA’s creative direction. Here, Moritz talks about using cutting-edge technology coupled with traditional hand assembly.
Beth Schlau: How did MYKITA get started?
Moritz Krueger: In thinking about a name for the company which we founded in 2003, we looked to the first space we had for inspiration. We decided to abbreviate this (“Kindertagesstätte”—German for nursery) to Kita which then evolved into MYKITA. It was a place where we developed new ideas, experimented with prototypes, and lived a business culture based on learning, concepts which we continue to apply today.
Our first eyewear model was a frame made of sheet metal that had no conventional hinges. The front end of the temple was rolled into a coil that latched into the frame front. This feature has remained the fundamental design principle of MYKITA—the technical solution must at the same time also be an aesthetic one. All frame components are cut out of sheet stainless steel and, in a style similar to the Japanese principle of origami, then bent and folded to become a three-dimensional object.
BS: How do you position yourselves?
MK: MYKITA offers a high-quality product to a variety of consumers. Our product range has become very deep with the result being that we have a very wide appeal. We cater to people who prefer not to have branding on the outside of their glasses and who like a frame to express their personality in a subtle way.
BS: MYKITA is promoted as an artisan eyewear company. What does this mean?
MK: Our philosophy of MYKITA is to produce everything in-house. In the beginning we did so because no manufacturers were able to produce our concept. The glasses are made by hand in our own workshop in Berlin with machines that we had to especially develop. Crafting by hand allows us to produce according to the highest standards. We have all departments under one roof, from R&D, to product development, to design to marketing, to manufacturing, to customer service. This enables the best synergies among departments and the ability to react very quickly. We are artisans in all aspects of our business.
BS: What do you do to differentiate yourselves from other eyewear companies?
MK: We always offer something that is thoroughly modern, using the best technologies available. In addition, we strive to innovate in terms of designs and shapes, with special care taken to make the best fit for a variety of faces and to please a host of tastes. Our marketing features the use of artistic images that focus on people and a feeling rather than the product.
We also launched our MYKITA 8 book, a coffee-table type of publication we designed and developed in-house to mark our eighth anniversary as a means for us to enter into a direct dialogue with our consumers. The book is given to each customer who purchases a frame and transforms them into brand ambassadors.
BS: What was the thinking behind coming up with the new MYLON material and collection?
MK: Our idea was to enter a new segment in the world of eyewear: luxury sports fashion. MYKITA MYLON glasses are made from a polyamide powder, in a process known as selective laser sintering (SLS). MYLON boasts individual adjustability, low weight, and extreme durability. The material has never been used for the serial production of eyewear before and the surface has a unique visual and tactile appeal that is a result of patented processes. Coupled with state-of-the-art design, these glasses are an outstanding sports or everyday accessory. Our collaboration with French luxury fashion and sportswear company Moncler expresses this positioning really well. MYKITA MYLON is a perfect illustration for what MYKITA stands for today as a brand: cutting-edge technology coupled with traditional hand assembly.
BS: What role does sunwear play in your product mix?
MK: MYKITA started with only ophthalmic frames in 2004 and added the first sunwear models in 2005. Since then the role of this product category has grown and today we sell about 30% sunwear and 70% ophthalmic frames.
BS: What does MYKITA offer to the U.S. market?
MK: Product that is innovative, beautiful, comfortable, and well-made. Our perception of a modern product is that it is an evolution, not a replica, something we feel appeals to consumers in the U.S. It is one of our most important markets, and one that hopefully will keep growing.