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Fleye Eyewear Beyond Lightweight and Comfortable

Annette Estø | 26 February 2015
Danish eyewear company Fleye – Fine Looking Eye – is taking the world by storm, winning multiple international awards with its featherlight frames
in innovative colour combinations that are built for comfort, functionality and purpose. A former Optometry teacher, Annette Estø is the co-founder and head of design and marketing at Fleye. Annette’s shock of bright orange hair and brilliant smile has become synonymous with this brand which was established in 2002. mivision spoke to Annette about the evolution of Fleye and the frame shapes you can expect to see emerge this year.

What makes Fleye fly?

“Wearing great eyewear does more than improve your eyesight. It communicates who you are. We design eyewear that helps people express their individual personalities.

“One of our signature design features is the beta-titanium nose pad wire on all acetate, carbon, and horn frames. Fleye received a prestigious Red Dot design award for this practical and integrated feature. This adjustable wire makes it possible for our glasses to fit any facial structure. Plus it serves as a cool little design detail since the wire loops in and out of the front of the eyewear.

“Another trademark of Fleye frames is the customised clip-on. You can get a matching, polarised sunglasses clip-on for almost all of our frames except the rimless and carbon fibre ranges. The clip-ons are designed for and matched to each frame in each colour, so you get a cohesive look that disguises the clip-on beautifully. It’s hard to tell that a clip-on is used.

“Finally, all frames are light as a feather, even when they have an expressive design. Most people are surprised when they try on a Fleye frame. Lightness and comfort is crucial to us.”

How did Fleye get started? 

“I had a lazy director/designer in the former company where I worked as a sales manager. He designed the frames and I sold them. When I complained about how long it took to create new models he said: ‘if you think it’s so easy, try for yourself!’

“At the time, my kids were young, and I could not draw anything they could recognise. But I accepted the challenge and began one evening to draw at my kitchen table. The skills from my work as a teacher at an Optometry school were very helpful, and I found out I did not have a problem drawing frames. It felt very natural… so I developed a lot of new models. In fact, they ended up selling much better than the models my boss had designed.

“After a while, my two colleagues Lars Halstrøm, Hanne Rosenvold Anderson and I mustered the courage to set up on our own. We all had many years of experience in the optical industry working for other brands but we had our own ideas about how great eyewear should be produced. We created our signature concept… and soon our new Danish design brand took off...

“Actually our strengths and personalities are surprisingly different but together we form a symbiotic partnership that works amazingly well. Lars is the sales director of Fleye. He is the son of an optician, so he grew up surrounded by eyewear. Hanne is the CEO of Fleye. She has a degree in business and leadership but her approach to work is very hands-on. I am the head of design and marketing. Together we own the company Fleye. The triangle pattern in Fleye visual branding is a symbolic reference to our trio.”

Do you have a typical customer? 

“A typical Fleye customer is someone who values top quality products but also has a sense of adventure and is not afraid to look outside the box to showcase their personality. They also appreciate the innovative handmade Danish design.”

What awards has Fleye won?

“We have won a number of international design awards. Most recently, Fleye’s carbon fibre glasses frames won the Japanese awards Eyewear of the Year 2015 and Good Design Award 2014.

“Model Ori from Fleye’s horn and wood collection won the iF product design award 2014 for the mix of materials and the signature nose pad wire.

“We won the Red Dot honourable mention 2013 award for one of our acetate frames, with the jury focusing on Fleye’s signature nose pad wire in their statement. Red Dot awards are awarded to all design, not just eyewear, so this was a particular honour.

“Finally, Fleye has won the ‘Supplier of the Year’ award three years in a row from one of Norway’s leading optical chains. And in the yearly internal surveys of Denmark’s leading optical chain, the staff always rate our service ‘much higher than our competitors’.”

Where do you seek inspiration?

“When looking at old photographs, when driving through the Danish countryside in springtime, when being mesmerised by the patterns of a material... the inspiration for my designs can come from literally anywhere and anything that has shape, surface, cuttings, structure, patterns and colours... I love cars, furniture and fashion.

“The shape of the frame has to match and underline the curves of eye brows, cheek bones and personality of the wearer. I also take the different type of prescription and the sizes of heads into consideration when I develop new collections. We really have frames for all types… from large men’s frames in size 61 to petite women’s or kids’ in size 44. The depth of the frames has increased over the last 10 years, and that
is really nice for the large group of wearers that use progressive lenses.”

Do you make a sunglasses range? 

“Yes, Fleye’s sunglasses are designed not by perfume or fashion clothing designers, but by an original eyewear designer.

“We make a colourful acetate sunglasses range, all with our adjustable nose pad wire; a super lightweight beta-titanium sunglasses range; and a sunglasses range
in carbon fibre fronts (made from 24 layers of paper thin carbon fibre), which have flexible beta-titanium temples.

“All sunglasses have polarised, anti-reflective Carl Zeiss lenses. Cylinder shaped temple tips are a cool small design feature to recognise these sunglasses by – and the cylinder shape adds to the comfort at the same time.

“Of course we also manufacture integrated clip-on sunglasses, which I mentioned before.”

How do you maintain the iconic “Fleye” style?

“We design everything in-house. This way we can stay true to our DNA and the Fleye design values. For example, there is a common thread running through our acetate, horn and carbon collections with our adjustable nose pad wire.”

What do you think will be the new big trend in eyewear?

“We see two trends emerging. One is eyewear glasses getting slightly smaller. They are still relatively large, and will continue to be, but we will not be seeing
the oversize look so much anymore.
Those days are over.

“Another trend is with materials. People are starting to use new materials for eyewear and combining these materials in innovative ways. For example wood glasses are cool but they have some limitations. If you combine wood with other materials, you get lighter, more elegant glasses frames. This is one of the things we are working with for the coming Fleye collections in 2015.”

Fleye is distributed by House of Brands, (AUS) 02 9997 5373.  

' The clip-ons are designed for each frame, creating a cohesive look that disguises the polarised clip-on beautifully '