“One frame that fits all is not for us, for that there is contact lenses”
– Wim Somers
We Love Glasses met the founder of Theo, Wim Somers,
and Theo’s public relation representative Miet Vaes in Paris during Silmo 2013.
Miet please tell us what’s going on at Theo.
M: We have a new collaboration with Japanese Factory900, who won the Silmo D’or award 2013 in the category Sunglasses. We know them since many years as they have a store in Antwerpen and decided that it would be nice to do something together with them. They have a way of working with the material acetate that know one else seems to be able to achieve in the industry. We sketched and designed the frames and Factory900 produces them in an old factory in Japan. The result is two models in eight different colours.
How did you decide for the eight colours?
M: The colours from the factory in Japan are a little different from the ones we usually use and we wanted to have a collection consisting of some classic tints such as black and browns and mix it up with something that pops. The truth is the the man that choses our colours, who we call our ‘colour-picker’, loves purple, so that is a colour you can find in many of our collections. He travels a lot so often inspiration comes from the trips, recently he went to Africa and our stand at Silmo is very inspired by that journey.
Is that how the design team usually finds inspiration, by traveling? Or where do you find inspiration for your collections?
M: At Theo there are no strict rules for how things should be done and there is no clear strategy we follow. The decision making is based on a gut feeling and this is how it has been for over twenty years.
But what is a gut feeling really?
M: At Theo it is the gut feeling of Wim, the big boss. Wim do you want to explain what it is?
W: Haha, well I have a gut feeling that we have been following at THEO, I know that my feeling is right, but I can’t always explain why. This is difficult for the young people to understand, they often want diagrams and data explaining everything.
Do you think that the fact that you have been in the eyewear business for a long time, and also have worked as an optician has to do with this gut feeling? Does it help you to notice “moods” and see what’s coming next?
W: To be honest we don’t work with eyewear, we work with accessories and look into fashion, accessories, furniture design and lifestyles to see whats going on. Frames has to fit with an outfit and is part of an entire look.
Do you look into all lifestyles or a curtain one?
W: We look at a lot of different, but more specific we go to places where our niche customer likes to go, such as museum etc. and look at what they are wearing. From there we have an idea of what type of frames would complete their look.
Have you worked like this since the start in 1987?
W: No, in the beginning I didn’t have the money to travel around, but as soon as I could I have been taking the opportunity during my journeys to visit places where our customers like to be.
Has the eyewear industry changed since you started producing frames?
W: Yes, the biggest change is that when we started there were not so many brands around, I think we were around ten to fifteen brands in the beginning. Apart from Theo, there were brands like L.A Eyeworks, Oliver people and Traction Productions for example. Now there is an ocean of companies focusing on frames.
Do you think it is better now when there is a lot of brands?
W: Of course, there is a futuristic thinking and focus giving people a wide range of possibilities to decide how they want to be expressive and show there personality.
Do you want people to feel or express something particular when wearing frames from Theo?
W: There is an expression in all of our frames, and by wearing them you can also change your expression. So depending of your mood we can help to adapt your appearance to the look you want. One frame that fits all is not for us, for that there is contact lenses.
M: I would like to add that Theo is an unisex brand and that is important for us that all models are for both men and women.
A lot of brands are using strong colours this season, Theo has always been known for not being afraid of colour and being expressive.
What do you think of the colour trend?
M: Yes I’ve seen a lot of companies are using colours, also fluo colours, but for us it’s nothing new. Of course we have also black frames but if you as a client of ours only want to buy black frames to your store then Theo is not the brand for you. The people that like The have a strong personality, are design interested and care about what they put on their face. Everybody don’t think in black and white, there are a lot of people with many colours in their minds. Remember that the world is not in black and white either, look outside.