Boutiques

Eyestylist interviews KEOPS optiikka, Finland

Eyestylist Exclusive: KEOPS optiikka is a small chain of optical boutiques (three stores) in Finland that curates their collections based on a simple concept: “style is a whole that consists of various choices”, eyewear being one of those choices. This is why the KEOPS range extends from ultra-trendy pieces to more low-key, classic options – ensuring something which caters to every individual’s style. Eyestylist spoke to Kari Asikainen, Chain Manager.

KEOPS has become one of the most highly acclaimed opticians in Finland, with three stores nationwide. What are the origins of the brand? Keops optiikka is well established as it has been operating in the business of eyewear for over forty years. After it’s acquisition in 1995, KEOPS was re-born as the brand we know today. I say re-born as the concept of our chain was polished a few years back; we made the decision to begin bringing in more genuine / independent eyewear labels and we refurbished our stores. The word “KEOPS” refers to the top of the pyramid. We have always recognised our brand as a high-end concept, not only in the unique assortment of eyewear we collect, curate and sell – but also regarding the service we provide to our clients.

SALT. Optics’ window display at KEOPS optiikka

As the manager, how would you describe the identity of your brand and your clientele? Our slogan – “Others talk about eyeglasses – we talk about style” describes us well. We see eyewear as part of the individual’s personal style; eyeglasses are an accessory that is in line with the wearers´ identity. Wearing eyewear that you feel comfortable with is more important than whatever is on trend. However, we encourage our customers to have more than just one pair of frames so that they can play a little bit with different styles. Our customers appreciate personal service, impeccable style and good quality. Being able to provide services through different channels is of course important, but we see that personal service is becoming more and more important as a counterforce for online shopping. Appreciation of good personal service is not an important factor only for more mature clientele, but customers of all ages look for a professional and warm customer service experience – one which we strive to provide here.

“Skandi-style” had its moment in the spotlight last year and I think it’s safe to say that moment has made a lasting impact on clothing trends to date. Are you noticing any consumer buying trends? We find that customers tend to buy less but invest in better quality; they also want to invest in themselves more. Personal service is becoming more important. Moreover, consumers tend to study the collections online throughly before even coming to the store.

KEOPS recently collaborated with SALT. Optics – a brand inspired by ‘effortless beauty’ and ‘human connection’ – could you tell us a little about how this collaboration transpired, as well as about the collaboration itself? We have had a very good collaboration with SALT., ever since we started working together in 2016. SALT. ‘s customer service – as a brand –  is excellent, and they deliver promptly. They are also really fun to work with. The product is perfectly in line with our concept, and the brand has gained a solid customer base among our clientele. We do trunk shows and window campaigns twice a year and the recent collaboration was related to our autumn trunk show. The collaboration also partnered with a Christmas giveaway campaign wherein one SALT. customer from each KEOPS store would have a chance to win another pair of SALT. frames; this proved very successful.

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KEOPS optiikka: Kari Asikainen, Chain Manager (left) and inside one of the stores (right)

The pandemic we have all endured over the past two years – and continue to do so – has made a lasting impact on all businesses in a multitude of ways. How did KEOPS navigate the extraordinary circumstances brought about by COVID-19? The pandemic has definitely had a substantial impact on our business, especially in the greater Helsinki area and in other larger cities in Finland. As a safety procedure, we closed all of our stores for a few weeks when the pandemic started; our employees’ safety was and still is the number one priority for us. Disinfecting frames after a customer has tried them on and sanitising the eye examination rooms before and after every examination has become a new normal procedure. We have noticed that many customers have had to postpone their purchase of new glasses, which has affected many customers’ eyesight. Thanks to our solid, loyal customer base we have been able to navigate the situation pretty well and have been able to continue planning and organising for next year. COVID-19 will most likely stay with us for quite some time; we just need to find solid tools to run the business and maintain our safety measures at a high level, in order to serve our customers and protect our staff in the best way possible.

It clearly states in KEOPS’ philosophy that style is paramount to the brand, and so I assume to its founder – do you / KEOPS plan on developing this passion for style into a line of ‘own-brand’ frames in the future?  That would be very intriguing. However, we have no such plans for the near future.

KEOPS optiikka: a sophisticated yet minimalist interior style

Sustainability is an issue that’s importance only continues to grow each day. To what extent, if any, does KEOPS implement environmentally friendly and / or sustainable practices into the business? Sustainability is very important for us, and we are constantly developing new ways to become more sustainable. Luckily, we are already doing many things relating to diversity and inclusion as well as some other endeavours regarding our environmental and social responsibilities. Taking care of peoples’ eyes with our thorough eye examination and being able to find early detections of possible eye diseases, may even save someone’s life – that is sustainability to us, in its simplest form.

We are also against throw-away culture and believe that buying a good quality product that lasts a long time is the key to sustainable living. We are, among other things, in the process of cutting down the number of brochures we produce in order to save paper and to avoid waste. We are also currently looking into an innovative way of recycling the old frames customers return to us. Even our lab – based in Tallinn – has been built based on sustainability, with many innovative systems such as waterless lens glazing and the reuse of waste heat generated from glazing machines. This feature was written by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com – all rights reserved. To find out more about KEOPS optiikka, visit www.keops.fi – Special thanks to SALT. Optics and KEOPS optiikka for their collaboration in this feature.

Cubitts has arrived in Belgravia, London

The store is designed by Child Studio, with bespoke display shelving inspired by Eileen Gray, the pioneer of the modern movement in architecture

The British independent retailer Cubitts has announced its latest opening in the heart of Belgravia, London. Located on 43 Elizabeth Street, the launch marks 12 stores nationwide, bringing Cubitts’ spectacles to the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The announcement follows an opening outside London in Leeds, just a few weeks previously in November 2021.

Cubitts – Belgravia, London

Designed by Alexy Kos and Che Huang of Child Studio, the elegant Belgravia store draws influences from the architectural legacy of the master builder Thomas Cubitt, who created the masterplan for large areas of this part of London, and is credited for defining its architectural appearance.

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Cubitts in Belgravia opened in December 2021

The interior aims to restore and highlight the original features of a classic Townhouse with refined and understated mouldings, architraves and cornices. The intimate domestic nature of the space is highlighted through a selection of iconic pieces of modernist furniture, art works from Anni Albers and others, plus a reclaimed fireplace, creating a contemporary interpretation of the classic drawing room.Bespoke display shelving in the store has been designed to reference the room dividers of Eileen Gray, the pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture.

About Cubitts – Cubitts is a modern spectacle store, founded in King’s Cross, London, in 2013 by Tom Broughton. Cubitts is driven by the belief that spectacles should be transformative objects – a confluent fusion of design, function, and style. Each frame is made by hand using materials such as Italian acetate, Japanese titanium, German hinges and Indian water buffalo horn. All styles have the option of being optical or sunglasses and each frame comes with an artist-designed cleaning cloth. https://cubitts.com

Lifestyle optician’s: The Oculist, UK

A UK hotspot for original, fine frames

Owner/director Gerry Sondh is all for embracing unique design. His carefully curated collection of frames includes top-notch brands from around the world like Ørgreen Optics, Jacques Marie Mage and theo, and new arrival in the store from Berlin, Kuboraum. “We’re known for what we do,” he says, and that goes for the frames, the eyecare, the advice available, and the special events in-store. These are  just re-starting with a MYKITA + Kuboraum showcase for December.

Since launching his shop in 2007, Sondh has found fans across the Peterborough area and further afield who know they can rely on the selection of frames, and in the current climate, buy multiple pairs. “Our work is a bit different right now. There’s less browsing, but many more bookings and bookings ahead. More people who are working from home in this area are looking for eyewear to suit several needs. They like that we are here, with a top selection of frames, and that they don’t need to travel into London to find something new.”

Ørgreen Optics: model Hemisphere – titanium frames with some colour are popular

Asked about how he started and with which collections, Sondh talks about having lots of great “family-like” connections with favourite, long-term brands. They include a strong relationship with Ørgreen whose collection is hugely popular at the store. “I’ve been working with Ørgreen Optics for 15 years. When we opened in 2007, we sold a load of the titanium Pussycats and Vildebeests and that was just a warm-up to what has been a really excellent relationship. Over the years, we have just continued to do really, really well with the collection, the electro-colours and combinations, and the consistency of small details like small hinges and screws suits us perfectly. I appreciate this type of close relationship with our brands and the travel to HQ to spend time with the team.”

Interior: frames on display by Maui Jim, theo and Oliver Peoples – the eyewear is easy to view and try on
A showcase was held at The Oculist in early December to present new styles – including the new collection from KUBORAUM and MYKITA

Located in a small arcade of independent shops, just off Peterborough town centre and near the historic cathedral, the Oculist team – Gerry, Rob Gilbert and Hannah Castle – promise over 1000 frames and sunglasses to choose from at any one time in the store, and take a remarkable and keen interest in new and high-quality designs. “Our analysis on returns is taken very seriously, our collections really do get put under scrutiny,” says Sondh, “and we take detailed records of any problems. By doing that we know we are selling very high-level eyewear to our customers and that satisfaction will always remain high.”

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Independent brands stocked at The Oculist include FACE A FACE, Kuboraum, LINDBERG, Maui Jim, Mykita, Ørgreen Optics, Oliver Peoples, and THEO.

Westgate Arcade, Peterborough, PE1 1PY – www.theoculist.com

Eyestylist visited The Oculist in November 2021 in person. If you have a unique store and would like to get in touch to tell us more, contact us at [email protected] – The feature above was written by Clodagh Norton for Eyestylist.com – all rights reserved.

Mykita in Mexico City

Beautiful Roma Norte district welcomes the handcrafted eyewear brand

The elegant tree-lined boulevard Colima (Roma Norte) interspersed with Art Deco houses has seen the opening of the new MYKITA Shop, housed in a 1950s Bauhaus-inspired building. The store is designed to offer an ‘immersive’ MYKITA experience, with three levels and an overall space of 700 square metres. Alongside their established design classics and latest eyewear collections which are all handcrafted at the MYKITA HAUS in Berlin, the shop – as is typical of the German brand’s retail concept – offers a comprehensive optical service with state-of-the-art instruments and lenses by ZEISS.

MYKITA, Mexico City: new interior

The interior architectural concept seeks to preserve the open, airy character of the building, originally conceived as a flower shop with large windows and two interior fountains now repurposed as large planters. Visitors access the first floor directly via the external stairs and are welcomed into a spacious eyewear gallery with consultation areas. The current collections are displayed on the freestanding curved MYKITA WALL; the laboratory used for lens cutting and fitting, frame adjustments and repairs sits just behind the reception desk. Stunning white terrazzo flooring, oak furniture and pastel blue powder-coated steel furnishings come together to achieve a clean and effortless composition of colour and surfaces that is characteristically in tune with the MYKITA aesthetic.

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On the split level, an eye-opening experience of Mexican coffee awaits: inspired by the sensory world of MYKITA and Colonia Roma, the Laboratorio coffee bar is the latest brainchild from the makers behind the third-wave coffee institution Rompeolas – a steam of coffee experts dedicated to exploring, recovering, conserving and valuing the flavours of the best coffee beans produced in Mexico.

MYKITA now has 16 shops worldwide in Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Osaka, Paris, Taipei, Tokyo, Washington and Zurich. www.mykita.com

Eyewear by Olga

‘Eyewear By Olga’ is a luxury eyewear retailer, or – as the owner likes to call it – an ‘EYE PAD’ founded in 2011 by optician, designer and fashion enthusiast Olga Trentin. The ‘PAD’ is located in the centre of Mississauga, Canada in the neighbourhood of Port Credit. The interior of the store itself is a feast for the eyes; packed with colour, exploding with textiles and featuring artisanal furnishings throughout. The shop first appeared on Eyestylist in October 2011.

We would love it if you could give us a short synopsis of the story / journey behind ‘Eyewear by Olga’…It’s such a funny story actually; I went to visit a friend in an optical store that I frequently shopped at, but my friend was busy serving a client. So, I picked up a frame that caught my eye and handed it to her client swiftly leaving the store afterwards so that I wouldn’t be intruding. Later, my friend told me that her client had purchased the frame I picked for her – and so, I was offered a job at her company as a frame stylist. I loved this job so much that I eventually became an optician and later on, a manager. I was able to learn a lot about the business and realized how much more I had to offer the optical industry. That’s when I decided to go on my own by opening my very own ‘EYE PAD’.

I took a pen and paper and started sketching the ‘PAD’; ribbons on the ceilings was the first idea that came to mind – ribbons are known to fill a space with lots of cheer – I felt that I had to add them to the design. I didn’t want a typical retail look, but something different and yet, timeless. I also didn’t want a cold and clinical office feel, so the ribbons also added that soft element to the design. I then mainly picked warm colours but added a pop of colour with our back wall and chairs. I felt that the chairs in particular had to be unique and so – after doing some research – we found the perfect choice: ‘The Eye Chair’ by Jackie Choi – it was originally a college project of hers that was presented all over Britain from BBC to Harrods and so it became one of my favourite elements to the ‘PAD’. The design feature was a low backrest to support runback for ergonomic reasons but as well as that it makes a strong visual statement; it looks like a hollow eye when viewed head on, they are quite the conversation starter. Our display cases feature a light coloured onyx to bring a certain warmth and a natural feel we wanted to implement, this is also why you won’t find any bright lights in our ‘PAD’ – we want our clients to have a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.

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The EYE PAD is a unique experience for eyewear enthusiasts

What have been the biggest struggles you and your store have faced through COVID-19? The element of the unknown regarding COVID-19 really frightened us; we closed our store for about three months in order to keep everyone safe. We quickly realized that our industry really was essential because clients were still in need of our services and so we had to find a way to make it work for everyone while being as safe as possible. It was a little bit of a struggle at first, but we managed to make it work; we would order contact lenses online and have them directly delivered to our clients, we would pre-order eyeglass lenses online and have clients do a door drop off with their frames to prevent any contact. When we finally started to open our doors for appointments, we took one client at a time, each customer had a mandatory COVID-19 questionnaire to be filled out, and temperatures were taken at the door. We also disinfected each frame that was tried/touched and disinfected all surfaces between appointments, floors were washed daily as well. Then of course masks were mandatory for everyone and our staff were double masked with shields worn on top too. I think most people understood why we did all of this and felt safe coming in to see us. We all had to work  together and we continue to do so to make this strange and scary environment feel as safe as possible for us all.

What are your favourite frames from your current collection and why are they your favourite? Oh wow, so many to choose from! If I had to choose one, I’d say my favourite frame in my current collection is the ‘Dita – Revoir’. It was originally released as a sunglass and is now offered as an ophthalmic. It is such an elegant bridgeless cat-eye and as the ‘Dita’ website describes it “spans the brow to resemble wings extended in flight”. I love the space between the wing point and the lens as it gives it some edge while keeping its elegance overall. (more…)