Interviews | February 27, 2020

Q&A – Einstoffen

Four Swiss guys have followed their dream to build their own company; this is now a solid reality, operating especially in the field of eyewear. Philippe Rieder, one of the co-founders, helps us to get to know it better

words Enrico S. Benincasa

What does ‘Einstoffen’ mean?

If you don’t speak German it’s really hard to understand. It relates to the story of our company created by four Swiss friends in 2008, wanting to follow their dream: starting their own business. Our first idea was importing T-shirts from Thailand. The German word ‘stoff’ means ‘cloth’, so Einstoffen could be translated as ‘to clothe people, to equip them’. So, it’s quite funny, our name has a strong bond to textiles but now we are 80-90% an optics company.

When did you start your activity in the eyewear sector?

We started designing casual shirts ourselves really early on and things really got better in a very short time. In 2012 we had the idea of making wood glasses, we thought that it would be possible to make interesting creations with an object like that. We didn’t have a solid background in this field, so we studied a lot and we were soon good enough to convince several opticians in follow us.

What is your relationship with them now?

We established a good relationship with them, we still have it and I think this direct contact is one of the secrets of our growth. We do the same with final customers and in the other fields where Einstoffen is involved, like watches. We are totally independent and we don’t work with chains. We know that our company lives because of the trust and the confidence of independent opticians: it’s a symbiotic relationship.

Why did you choose to call your glasses with names of professions?

When we started with casual shirts, we opted for movie character names and we would like to do something similar with glasses. We wanted names that have a link with frames, like the classic pilot model. We tried to expand this concept, to write a little story about every model we produce.

How many people are involved in the design department?

The design part of our products is still by the all four founders (me included). Raphael is the one most involved concerning eyewear. We generally take decisions in a very democratic way following the input we gather. For example, we often get polls from opticians, distributors and agents about fitting and other features of our glasses in order to improve our products. There’s a lot of sharing of information and ideas along the whole chain.

What are the elements that help you to decide to experiment with materials?

At the beginning, it’s just pure interest. Then there’s the will to try something new, to do our thing with another material. We started putting in acetate temples because we like the fact that it is really adjustable, so we mixed it with wood. Then we wanted to be more filigree and complex and we decided to incorporate titanium and steel. To me, there’s always an interesting way to develop the collection.

What are the important markets for Einstoffen?

Our main market is the German-speaking area, where a lot of people already know us. Benelux, UK, Italy and Scandinavian countries are becoming more important for us. It’s always interesting how the different markets work. Because of this, we usually go to exhibitions and fairs to understand how to make new business in other areas. National eyewear markets are intensely different, you have to make a deep study of them to be successful.

What are you going to unveil next?

We have a spring collection coming out called ‘Stand Tall, Run Free’, which celebrates free spirit and independency. We worked a lot with hybrids, mixing natural and technical materials. It will be the biggest collection we’ve ever done; with almost 50 models.