March 29, 2018
Raf Maes and Anton Janssens, KOMONO's founders
Founded in Belgium in 2009 by Raf Maes and Anton Janssens, KOMONO creates watches and eyewear with a sleek design and contemporary colour palette.
Anton Janssens talked to 20/20 Europe about minimalist aesthetics and eyewear directions for 2018 ahead of the brand’s OPTI launch and the day after the brand won an eminent Belgian fashion award.
Q: What is KOMONO’s take on the new minimal aesthetic in eyewear? What do you believe the customer wants?
A: We have an understated, not too flamboyant, more minimalist way of thinking anyway. It is in our DNA, so it’s not a direction we need to think about differently for the new season. We produce both acetate and stainless steel frames with a minimal, pared-down approach. Of course, we are seeing a trend in the market focusing more and more on very thin steel frames. We launched this trend three years ago in our sunglasses collection; I think sunglasses catch momentum in fashion before opticals do…so what we created then in our steel frames we can now leverage in our optical line. People recognise KOMONO for that aesthetic.
Q: What is the significance of the brand name KOMONO?
A: ‘KOMONO’ means “small things” in Japanese. We wanted to present ourselves as a fashion accessory brand, first and foremost. But the word is also a bold, strong name with three ‘O’s, which we have represented in our logo; the first two represent our eyewear and the third stands for the watches. The word itself, as well as the logo, offer a powerful, yet clear and simple presentation of what we are about.
The Elementary Collection from KOMONO is a statement in minimalist metal with four lightweight steel styles
– Sinclair, Sheldon, Mercer, and Hailey – featuring titanium nose pads
and ultra-thin metal temples
Model Sinclair from the Elementary Collection by Komono
Q: What have you launched recently that reflects your direction for 2018?
A: At SILMO, we launched the Elementary optical collection, which takes our slim designs a step further. For the Elementary Collection, we have really studied what we can "-take away-" for the “less is more” approach, and we created extremely thin, innovative, steel designs that are minimal and contemporary at the same; this is our focus with all our marketing and sales for this collection. For us, it is important that KOMONO is consistent and coherent in everything we do. So, we reflect this look in our watches also. When we launched the watch collection, we brought more innovation and introduced a more contemporary minimal style when there was a strong general trend for retro in watch design…and that’s key for us – that we never change our DNA according to the trends, but find our own way. As a fashion brand your identity must be clear and consistent; we are not following the trends but creating our own market.
Q: As a relatively young brand in eyewear, what is your direction? You have expanded internationally; please comment on this growth.
A: We have created our identity in the fashion world with the aim of making luxury fashion accessible. Fashion for me is where trends are born and I do believe that the bigger and more respected we are in the fashion world, the bigger the demand we will create in the optical world. We have now opened five concept stores – three in Belgium, and two in Asia in Tokyo and Taipei. Our growth in Europe has been incredible, particularly in our home country, as well as in Germany, France, and the Netherlands. We are already working with over 1000 opticians in Europe - after just one year. We design collections specifically for opticians to ensure we meet their specific needs.
\\ Model Hailey - the Elementary Collection by Komono
Q: As OPTI draws near, can you tell us what you will launch?
A: We will be launching the Elementary Collection sunglasses line at OPTI. Following that, we will be launching new ophthalmic designs at MIDO.
Q: You have won a prestigious fashion award in Belgium. Please comment.
A: We have been awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year prize at the Belgian Fashion Awards 2017. It is a huge honour to be recognised in the fashion industry in this way in our home city of Antwerp. We are great admirers of the other winners who include fashion designers Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons. To be standing on stage alongside them for this award presentation had a huge significance for us personally and for the story of our brand.
\\ Model Mercer - the Elementary Collection by Komono