While the South Korean eyewear brand is still young, VYCOZ already shows many of the characteristics that we’d expect to see from one of the far-eastern high-tech hub’s top labels. The frames are functional, minimalistic, and stylish. In this interview, VYCOZ Founder Jeong Byeong-Jae gives us a look at the story behind the rising star and offers us a glimpse into what the future might hold for his brand.
Hi Jeong, what brought you into the optical industry, personally?
I started my career as an optician and spent the early part of my career working for a company that specialized in importing and distributing European eyewear brands. I then used that experience to establish my own company. Personally, Europe is the place where my passion for eyewear really grew, and now I’m working to reach and gain recognition for my own brand.
When did you establish the VYCOZ brand?
In 2014. After a 12-year career in the optical field, I built up the courage to create my own eyewear design. I started my own business in a tiny office—that’s where VYCOZ was born.
What was your initial impetus for founding the brand?
Back at my previous job, I got to see many different European eyewear brands. Whenever I came across a new brand, I tried to find the core DNA of each new design. Making my own designs naturally extended from that. But I still had a long way to go before I would have the self-confidence and expertise to put my ideas into action. Even after starting the company, it took me six more years to develop its brand identity.
How would you describe the philosophy of the brand?
As an optician, a CEO, a designer of an eyewear brand and a glasses-wearer, I’ve cultivated more experience and expertise than anyone else with different types of eyewear from different brands. This also helped me develop a deep of understanding what comfort means for eyewear. I consolidated my experiences and understanding into the brand philosophy:
“Light & Comfortable”. This is what VYCOZ tries to deliver in its design and what we want people to think of when they see our brand.
Is VYCOZ a typical eyewear brand for South Korea?
VYCOZ is unique as a screwless eyewear brand in Korea. Also, rather than just selling the eyewear, we’ve also developed our own sales manual and a tool to educate opticians about how to assemble and fit our glasses to the wearer. This solidifies our role as an industry leader.
You also work with non-Asian models in your communication. Do you see yourselves as a global brand?
VYCOZ eyewear is now sold in 15 countries. Eight of these are Asian countries, but the rest are in Europe and the Americas. Our brand doesn’t have a separate non-Asian fit design. Instead, we have several patented designs that uniquely address the differences, overcoming previous limitations of fitting for face shape. First, the reversible nose-pads are 1mm thick on one side, and 3mm on the other, so they can be adjusted to fit comfortably regardless of height of the nose. Second, you can use the Temple Cutting Line to adjust for different face sizes. Third, Easy Inclination Control allows us to easily adjust the angle of inclination. These functional aspects aren’t sufficient for every face shape, but the steady rise in sales in the European markets shows that our design can meet the needs of 70-80% of the European population.
Your collection is quite broad. What is VYCOZ all about?
Today VYCOZ showcases eleven different collections covering Kids, Optical and Sunglasses. Each category is designed based on an in-depth study into each target group’s needs regarding fit, function, and usage… COLLECTION INCLINE-T, for example, is exclusively designed for the progressive lens wearer. To be optimized for progressive lenses, this collection allows a wider range of inclination angles than our regular designs. Also, it uses our anti-slip temple to allow for freer movement. At the same time, INCLINE-T weighs under 10g. MAX-KIDS is another example. The goal for this collection was to design something that could diverge from existing plastic materials and stereotypically childish designs without compromising on comfort.
All other VYCOZ collections are also designed for specific groups and needs, as you would expect from a functional eyewear brand.
What materials do you prefer to use?
We define our brand and its collection as functional eyewear. To ensure the best possible craftsmanship, we use metal materials for the base, ranging from stainless steel to beta titanium for elasticity and durability.
Are there any special technical features that are typical for VYCOZ eyewear?
VYCOZ applies for and receives one to three patents each year. Here are some of our patented features that could be helpful for glasses-wearers and retailers.
1. Hinge designs: Currently we have four different hinge systems that are adapted and designed for specific needs.
2. Reversible nose pads: Our nose pads have different-sized sides (1 mm/3 mm) which enables you to flip to fit regardless of nose height.
3. Anti-rotation hole: This feature is implemented in the front design to prevent round lenses being rotated during daily use.
4. Inclination adjustment: This feature is for progressive lens/magnifying lens wearers to easily adjust the angle of inclination for a more comfortable view.
What is the typical VYCOZ design DNA? What distinguishes your brand?
Our unique hinge design is a fundamental part of all VYCOZ eyewear designs that we want to draw attention to. Because of that, we try to keep other aspects like the front shape or the temple shape minimal and modern in a way that complements the hinge design.
In which color and shape worlds do you move with your eyewear?
VYCOZ is intended to be timeless, but recently we’ve also started to introduce vivid colors and cool/transparent materials into our designs to appeal to a broader customer base. In addition, we have different front shape designs ranging from round, to squared and polygonal.
Where do you see VYCOZ in five years?
In five years, I expect to expand our business to more than 30 countries worldwide, positioning VYCOZ as a premium global brand.
still photos RAPHAEL SCHMITZ campaign images VYCOZ