“Boring is over” The three Danish friends who set up an eyewear brand in the late 1990s in the design capital Copenhagen continue to expand their titanium success story with the support of optical retailers worldwide. Henrik Ørgreen, CEO and Founder and Tobias Wandrup, the creative force behind the brand, met us at the busy Ørgreen store in Copenhagen earlier this year for an update on where the Danish independent eyewear business sees itself today. Photo above: Henrik Ørgreen, Tobias Wandrup and Gregers Fastrup.
“We started with sunglasses. I remember meeting Tobias in the park and planning to set up the first ever sunglass brand to come out of Scandinavia. And then we approached Gregers and there it was. Our first product came out in 1999.”
“The eyewear market has become competitive, complex and more serious. It is to our advantage that we entered the market as a new independent brand over 15 years ago – there were only probably around 5 or 10 brands then that were actually emerging. We have our established design, production and logistics, and customer services and that ensures we can just keep moving forward to produce the best titanium designs in the world….” Henrik Ørgreen
By 2001, the brand moved production to Japan, and with that came the interest in titanium. “At that time we were working in acetate, few people know that! We were really focused on good quality. Today, it’s the same. We have an even higher level of quality and detailing, but that has come because we are more experienced. What we also learnt today is that sometimes you do have to compromise to have the best functionality or the best quality – back then there was no compromise – our first frames were described by our Austrian factory at the time as the most complicated they had ever tried to make.”
Asked to describe the proudest moments so far, Henrik refers to an Ørgreen “classic” with open temple featuring two hinges per temple. He says the concept soon became reproduced by other companies, but the impact of being the innovator of this design ensured that they found their place on the map in terms of innovation and new ideas. “The second turning point was when we did sheet titanium in two-tone colour – where we had two different colours on the inside and outside of the frame. This was an inspired concept that came from looking at car details. We found it was exciting to do really strong colours on the inside, making the frame wearable without being overpowering. We worked closely with our Japanese producers on this; they put in a lot of technical know-how to make this work.” Today the two-tone effects remain a part of the brand’s image.
And the direction in 2016? “We are working with around 15 factories in Japan, each one with their own expertise. But we still have the original guy with us who worked on the innovations I’ve mentioned. We are all really proud about that.” Overall the label continues to respect its roots and its open-minded Danish mentality where simplicity of design is one of the essentials.
“Copenhagen is full of interesting people. We get inspired by people from all around the world who come here and this is important to us and a part of what we have created and continue to use as inspiration. It’s our lifestyle.”
Visit the Ørgreen flagship store at Store Regnegade 1, 1110 København K / www.orgreenoptics.com CN