Thursday, 11 October 2012

[Vol. 7] New-comers to IOFT – exciting new exhibits from overseas

  One of the things that we look forward to at this year’s IOFT is the arrival of new-comers.
Many brands have decided to exhibit at IOFT for the first time in order to launch their products into the Asian market.

Today out of those new exhibitors, we will be introducing 3 brands:

  • Mr. Christian Wolf – Marketing Manager of ROLF Spectacles                            

Let’s swiftly move onto the interview!

Interviewer: Chiharu Nishiura, International PR, IOFT Show Management

Mr. Hoet, please tell me all about P. Hoet nv!

Mr. Hoet:
Mr. Patrick Hoet
I am fifth generation optician (opticians since 1886) and started designing eyewear about 25 years ago. Together with Mr. Wim Somers we created the company Theo. Shortly after having sold my Theo shares to Mr. Somers we founded our independent designing office and today our core business is still creating and developing eyewear for the company Theo, but a few years ago we launched our own brands "Hoet" and "Cabrio". This is the story behind the beginning of our brand.

The "Hoet" brand is designed by me and my collaborator Mrs. Ti Vandenbroucke. It is meant to be a timeless, yet modern, and high-end exclusive collection. If one would try to describe the profile of the end user, I think he or she is the same person which would purchase Yohji Yamamoto or Ann Demeulemeester clothing. Our final customer doesn't like branded fashion. For one thing, the "labels" are not exclusive enough to him, for another he doesn't like a visible logo. Hoet doesn't show a label and is distributed by a very limited selection of avant-garde opticians. He purchases glasses which are not dated and this makes his investment affordable. Today, the first Hoet glasses, designed 7 years ago are still bestsellers.

It’s really a brand loved by a limited number of people know truly understands the value of your products. Maybe that’s why your brand has long term, serious fans. People, who would appreciate your work, season after season for many years.

Mr. Hoet:
The "Cabrio" brand is designed by my oldest daughter Bieke and collaborator Ti Vandenbroucke. It is an out of the box sunglass collection with a lot of technical innovation. Mid-range priced, sporty, comfortable, it offers very good protection against the sun. 

Your daughter is a designer too! It’s like your entire family were destined to be eyewear creators.
It’s your first time at IOFT isn’t it? May I ask you your reasons for exhibiting?

Mr. Hoet:
Regarding turnover, our expectations are not too high. We know that it takes time to get the confidence from the Japanese market. Good for us, since our strategy is a long time strategy. We want to grow slowly, but steadily.

We see our first participation as a mean to introduce our collections to the Far East market including Japan, Russia and the Asia region. We have been exhibiting in Paris and Milan, but surely, IOFT is the best event to approach the Far East market.

I see. You must have specific reasons and targets for each of your collections

Mr. Hoet:
For the Hoet collection we hope to find a few Japanese and Far East buyers (independent opticians) For the Cabrio collection, besides individual buyers, we hope to establish contacts with agents or distributors which are active in the Far East.

I hope for the best!
So, would you be able to share a little about your new products?

Mr. Hoet:
The Hoet collection will show 3 new models: Abigail, Andrew and Amber. (The Abigail model has been nominated for the Silmo d'Or in the category innovation). 

It is made from 3mm titanium sheet, wire erosion cut. The hinge part has small cuts for easier adjusting and bottom and top part are connected at the nose with a new assembling technique. This was done so to allow partly PVD coating. The frame (like the rest of the collection) is presented with multiple layer AR-coated CR39 lenses and comes with an exquisite CNC-milled wooden eyewear case. Every Hoet frame is laser engraved and has an individual number.

It’s definitely a very special frame. An eyewear jam packed with specific details and purpose. Hoet fans must love this!

Mr. Hoet:
Thank you Chiharu. My daughter will introduce "Coccinelle" in the Cabrio collection. This model is specially adapted for the Asian market.

I’m looking forward to your exhibit even more now…
Final question…could kindly leave a message to IOFT NEWS readers?

Mr. Hoet:
From the bottom of my heart: I have the deepest respect for the strength and dignity of the Japanese people. Coming to Japan has always been a spiritual experience.  
We run a small family business. We are proud of what we make and we'll gladly show you our glasses. We'll deeply appreciate if you can give us some of your valuable time. We see ourselves more as possible partners, rather than as profit makers. We'll gladly write orders, but your feedback is equally valuable to us.

If you would like to make an appointment with us during the show, here are the contact details:

My mobile number: 32 475 79 30 38
Bieke’s mobile number: +32 476 60 94 23 
My email address:

Thank you so much Mr. Hoet!


Ok, let’s move on.
Next I would like to introduce Mr. Dieter Funk from FUNK INTERNATIONAL, a new exhibitor from Germany.
Please explain to the Japanese buyers about FUNK

Mr. Funk:
FUNK is one of the last small individual and independent spectacle labels in the world.

Mr. Dieter Funk
Founded back in 1992 by the eponymous label founder and designer Dieter Funk, the path has led from almost intolerable, brutal “haute couture” sunglasses, over the sport market back to Dieter Funk’s home turf, the ophthalmic optics.
Since 2004, FUNK has inspired the optical world with handmade, pioneering eyewear and sunglasses, which either keep with the times or are just one step ahead.

FUNK Royal Eyewear, inspired by classic models of the past 60 years, is interpreted differently each time, in new FUNKy ways. Meanwhile, 3 collections of eyewear exist under the roof of FUNK eyewear: in addition to the earlier briefly presented collection FUNK Royal, the Sashee Schuster series, whose characteristics can only be described as super-classic, is a very harmonious collection, marked by influences from the golden 20s and the swinging 50s.

However, FUNK FOOD goes back to the roots of the company in the 1990s. Colorful, flashy, experimental – designer Dieter Funk has found his playground to try out things less ordinary.

Brand image

In 2012, besides several new Acetate creations, FUNK will introduce talented metal acetate and metal frames back into the game. All done, of course, in the usual innovative FUNKy way.

The innovative FUNKy way... I bet you can’t wait to introduce your products to the buyers you meet at IOFT.

Mr. Funk:
To find high-end Japanese and Asian buyers who might be interested in our brand FUNKroyal. The collection is 100% made in Germany and we think that the quality standard in Japan is very high so that the opticians understand our high-end collection. 

FUNK ROYAL anniversary model

We will show our collection the first time at the Asian market and the IOFT is one of the best optical show on our planet – I think with this statement there is no need to explain more about.
I would like to meet all people who are interested in unique design, handcrafted frames, and brands who have a history – real brands.

There are many fashionable, high-end stores in Japan who would understand and relate to your brand concept. I really hope you will be able to make connections with such stores.

Mr. Funk:
Everybody wants to be individual.  Individuality is not just the frame another big part are the people who stand behind a brand – every frame has a history – just think about that.
There are many eyewear shops around. More and more owners think about the interior design about where the shop is located. Sometimes some forget about the brands they offer to their clients. Individuality or mass market - everybody needs to do their own decision. You could be “the one” or you could be one out of many. 

If you wish to make an appointment with us for IOFT please send us an email to the following email address:
Attn. Mrs. Schuster or Mr. Funk

Thank you so much Mr. Funk!
Such deep interviews making us re-think the meaning of individuality and how we should embrace it.


And...finally let’s welcome Mr. Christian Wolf from ROLF Spectacles, the Grand-Prix winner of EYEWEAR OF THE YEAR 2012. Since winning the award, their eyewear became well known throughout Japan. A very unique eyewear brand using only natural materials, even the screws.

Mr. Wolf, please introduce your brand to us.

Mr. Wolf:
In the workshop

In 2007 we started out carving eyewear frames in the home basement with the simplest tools available.
The first prototype was ready after only a month, but the results were not satisfactory. The team needed to learn much more, such as CNC machining, press processes and creating new machinery.
At the Opti 2009, additional prototypes were showcased and for the first time it was possible to gauge responses to the product. People were thrilled, but the desired quality was lacking because of imprecise processes. Without any support from the banks, the project seemed headed for failure despite the positive feedback. Fortunately, support came from our families so we were able to continue investing in new machinery and optimized production processes. Finally in August 2009, ROLF could submit the first perfect set of glasses for the Silmo d`Or. Being nominated for the first time was an incredible feeling for ROLF, but later winning was beyond comprehension!

What a lovely story!
A glorious product of such hard work and effort.

Mr. Wolf
The glasses are unique in terms of the materials used and the production techniques implemented. Almost all machinery needs to be built or retrofitted specifically. In the early stages, moped brakes, old actuators and other items were used provisionally because they lacked the money to outfit machines for production. One example is the Silk-Cut 300, which produces the special thread for our glass fittings. It was entirely made from scrap parts from our friend, the junk dealer; he still manufactures all ROLF threads. In order to be able to bend the first parts into shape, the first pieces of wood was pressed from a living room table with the mechanical milker from a neighbor, who had retired from farming. The press is still in use. Even the stone frames had their start this way. Nowadays, precise machines are used until the point where the frames are passed on to highly sensitive additional processing that is done by hand.

It’s truly a handmade frame isn’t it?
Could you care to share an example of such work?

Mr. Wolf:
We will bring our new "advanced collection" to the IOFT and our new wooden case also designed and produces in Austria and exclusive for ROLF eyewear. 

Advanced collection
 The new collection is inspired by classic cars and our environment we always try to push our frames to the next level. Obsessed of natural materials we want to create different facing in look and technical features. More natural texture and material and a three dimensional design makes it possible to reach the next level of wooden eyewear.

About the frame Model "Hornet"
The Hornet Wolseley was a small luxury car that had a square like shape with smooth transitions. The ROLF design cultivates these soft features into an angle loving, cheeky frame.

The Hornet's artistic design is expressed throughout the frame with each layer adding to the overall impression.

The tender and warm texture of the wooden material is expressed very well by the eyewear. I’m guessing that people would be able to feel and see the warmth and beautiful frame line better by actually taking a look at the frame in person. It must grab the Japanese buyer’s attention.

Mr. Wolf:
After winning the EOY 2012 we hope to find some partners to bring our product to Japanese customers.
We know that the Japanese people like good design and natural materials. The country also has a huge and historical eyewear market.
That is why we decided to exhibit at IOFT.
At the show, as well as Japanese buyers we would also like to meet distributors.

IOFT is a perfect place to meet distributors in search of new brands. I hope you will get a chance to meet a distributor that will match your needs.

Mr. Wolf:
I got a chance to travel around last year after picking up the trophy at the IOFT. I loved the sense of creativity and design all over Tokyo. There are a lot of beautiful shops and each single sign on these shops is placed and designed perfectly. As I am responsible for the marketing at ROLF there are a lot of things which I can learn and improve my skills.

Thank you so much! I bet people not only from Tokyo but from all over Japan are longing for your eyewear to be launched in Japan.

Mr. Wolf:
Pass by and have a look on our innovative product. ROLF's research and development team has created an innovative hinge for its eyewear made of wood and a specialized ROLF lens-glazing system. The ROLF wooden spectacle is produced completely without any metal parts or screws, and it is very easy-care thanks to its special surface treatment. Each ROLF frame is produced by hand requiring many work steps at the plant in Tyrol / Austria.

Good Design Award

If you wish to book an appointment with us, please contact us in advance:
Mr. Bernhard Wolf
Sales manager

Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us Mr. Wolf!

[Editor’s Note]
IOFT is certainly a great place for wonderful brands such as HOET, FUNK and ROLF yet to launch their products into the Asian market. These are so many unique, sexy, funky, one of a kind eyewear brands from the international market such as Europe, U.S which is bound to be loved by Japanese and Asian buyers. I truly wish for the success of such brands in making connections with the buyers in the market and for the buyers to fully utilise this opportunity to help distribute the wonderful frames to all eyewear lovers in Japan and Asia.  

For more information about the show, please contact Show Management or access the relevant sites listed below.

IOFT Show Management
Attn.: Ena Masui, International PR
TEL:+81-3-3349-8519 FAX +81-3-3349-8530

Written by Ena Masui, International PR, IOFT Show Management

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