Going out west where we belong: Vinylize goes roadtripping in the California sun

 

In May 2019, Zack Tipton, Yulia and their two young boys hit the road to visit stores and appear at trunk shows the length of California. They started at Through The Hayes Optometry in San Francisco and ended at Urban Optiks in San Diego. Along the way, they visited stores that included Wink Optics in Mill Valley, Occhialli Santa Barbara, Be Seen in La Jolla and Dan Deutsch on LA’s Sunset Boulevard. 

Building on the success of previous trips, the Tiptons also did trunk shows in San Francisco, Petaluma and San Diego. Trunk shows are particularly important for Vinylize because, as Zack says, “we meet fans of the brand who may have bought glasses in the past and they get to see the full range of options available to them. It’s a great way to spread the word.”

 

Fit for California California may be the single most important state in the whole USA for Vinylize. It makes sense. The dream of an endless summer, surfing, hot rodding and sweet, pounding rock and roll would be very different without iconic sunglasses. Vinylize fits right in.
But there’s more to it than that. As Zack says ‘California is progressive in so many ways, from protecting the environment through to legalizing cannabis. Because our frames are recycled, Vinylize resonates with Californians. There’s also the way we transform music into something else altogether. Californians love their heritage, but they keep an eye out for whatever’s new and hip.” For a large part of the journey, the Tiptons followed legendary Route 101 along the breathtaking California coast before heading off into the heartland of the state.

 

One of the highlights was stopping off at Uber Optics in Petaluma, where the family was blown away by the reception they received and the place itself. “It felt like we belonged to the Petaluma community because of Uber Optics, which was awesome.”

The impression the Tiptons made contributed to their warm reception. “On the day of the meeting, we all dressed up nicely and our boys greeted the owners politely,” says Yulia. “They weren’t expecting an entire family from Budapest to show up but, as soon as they got to know us, they felt connected. Many of them run family businesses too. Zack told the brand story and I showed the collection, picking out frames that would work best for their store.”

 

Vinylize gets unfair face play confesses Nancy at Uber Optics

 

 Uber Optics specializes in outfitting customers in independent, unique, high quality eyewear. The store’s motto is “We think your face is awesome. Put a great frame on it.” Nancy at Uber Optics is a huge Vinylize fan. 

Asked what she likes most about the brand, Nancy says “There isn’t just one thing that I love most about Vinylize. I LOVE that it’s so authentic, well made, comes from music, has a story and is independent.

 

 

Nancy owns Vinylize Araya in black and purple. Her purple Araya is custom made from Prince’s Musicology album. She’s sure Uber Optics customers love Vinylize partly because she loves the brand so much. “My Vinylize frame is one of my favorite frames of all time. I wear my black Araya so often I was actually feeling sad for all my other frames because I felt I wasn’t giving them as much face play!”

 

 

Most Californian Vinylize

Nancy at Uber Optics says “Our bestseller has been the Lola, in all colours. We’ve also done well with the Freddies and the Eddies.”

 

Vinylize ideal for our individualists says Dr Alex Romero at Orange Circle 

 

 At Orange Circle Optometry, in the heart of Orange, Southern California, Dr Alex, his wife Dr Ly Nguyen and their team “try to be ourselves and incorporate our personalities into our work”. 

Vinylize is the perfect brand for Dr Alex and Orange for a bunch of reasons. 

 “It’s not just your generic cookie cutter frame, found in every store” says Dr Alex, “right down to the fact that no two pairs of the same style are identical because the grooves in each one are different, like a fingerprint. Carrying the brand makes us unique and attracts real individualists to us. The fact that Tipton’s a family business is huge for us too. Little by little we’re trying to replace big chain frames with those from family-owned outfits.” 

All of which adds up. But there’s another reason that Dr Alex loves Vinylize. “I played in multiple band when I was younger and we released our music on seven inch vinyl singles. Inviting Vinylize into our practice was a no-brainer. And now that I’ve just turned 40 and my near vision is not so great, I’ll be ordering a pair of AC/DC Hell soon.”

 

 

Soaking up the Cali vibe on a family road trip

Promoting Vinylize was just part of the Tipton roadtrip, which lasted 20 days. Meetings with opticians were set up so the family had two or three free days in between. “We hired an RV and went slowly,” Zack says, “and enjoyed our evenings hiking, cooking meals on the campfire and watching the most beautiful sunsets while the boys fell in love with toasting marshmallows.”

Julio adds, “I adore nature and my favorite thing about California is how many different kinds of landscape it’s possible to experience within one state. You get everything from snow-capped mountains to deserts. We stopped in the Anza-Borrego desert and boondocked at Coachwhip Canyon and it was magical.”

 

Soaking up the Cali vibe on a family road trip

Promoting Vinylize was just part of the Tipton roadtrip, which lasted 20 days. Meetings with opticians were set up so the family had two or three free days in between. “We hired an RV and went slowly,” Zack says, “and enjoyed our evenings hiking, cooking meals on the campfire and watching the most beautiful sunsets while the boys fell in love with toasting marshmallows.”

Julio adds, “I adore nature and my favorite thing about California is how many different kinds of landscape it’s possible to experience within one state. You get everything from snow-capped mountains to deserts. We stopped in the Anza-Borrego desert and boondocked at Coachwhip Canyon and it was magical.”

 

 

June 18, 2019 by david holzer

Zack Tipton designs and makes trophy for UK and Italian Best Art Vinyl 2018 awards

Zack Tipton designs and makes trophy for Best Art Vinyl 2018 awards

David Holzer

Scholar of all things rock and roll and proud wearer of Vinylize.


The Best Art Vinyl award is the brainchild of Art Vinyl. Art Vinyl’s unique Play & Display Flip Frames enable music and art lovers to display their favorite vinyl records on your wall. The first real champions of art and design for vinyl records, Art Vinyl also curates exhibitions showcasing the best in sleeve design.

Each year, the company publicly invites British vinyl enthusiasts to vote for the best album cover art of that year. The UK award for 2018, announced in early January 2019, was won by Rahi Rezvani, designer and photographer of the Editors’ sixth album Violence.

For the past 14 years, the UK Best Art Vinyl award has celebrated record cover design by compiling the best in art, photography and graphic design in modern music culture each year. The award has also been presented in Italy since 2010. 

 In that time, the award has become the leading celebration of the work of the designers who create the striking covers that contribute so much to the vinyl experience. As Andrew Heeps, founder and MD of Art Vinyl, says, “In the UK, the whole Best Art Vinyl prize thing has worked so well. There’s nothing like it out there in the music industry. It’s really gone from strength to strength.”


Best Art Vinyl Italia - the Italian arm of Art Vinyl

Before he launched Art Vinyl in Italy, Paolo Zamma was a buyer in the music industry. Although Art Vinyl Italia has been in existence for 9 years, Paolo’s relationship with Art Vinyl began around 11 years ago, when he first encountered the Play & Display frames.

“I was impressed by the idea and understood the concept straight away,” Paolo says. “It was also around the time that vinyl records were beginning to be re-pressed and Record Store Day was starting. I knew we were at the beginning of something that would give a whole new life to vinyl records. In Italy, vinyl records have never been as popular as they are today.”

An extra SPECIAL award

This is perhaps reflected in the interest Best Art Vinyl Italia is generating. For this year’s edition, albums by several major label artists have been nominated for the award.

Also, Rolling Stone Italia is interested in covering an extra award ceremony called Art Vinyl Choice, held at Milan’s Honesty Club around the end of May. Best Art Vinyl Italia will present the new trophy to the designer of a cover chosen by Art Vinyl UK and Art Vinyl Italia from the 50 nominees.


Frames in common

The connection between Zack and Andrew goes back to even before Art Vinyl was born.

“I was probably one of Zack’s very first customers,” Andrew says. “Around 15 years ago, I bought a pair of Vinylize from the one shop in London that was stocking them. I fell in love with the product then and there. Now, what I find quite lovely is that people like Zack and me, fans of vinyl who started out building interesting businesses at a time when people weren’t buying vinyl are now thriving.”

“Andrew got in touch with me when he wanted new frames that were exactly the same as his first pair of Vinylize,” Zack continues. “This would have been around eight years ago. We met at Rough Trade East in London and found we had a lot in common, starting with the fact that he makes frames for vinyl and I make frames out of vinyl.”

Andrew and Zack stayed in touch and, a few years ago, Zack organized a Hungarian Best Art Vinyl award at Mono, an art and design gallery in Budapest.

The trophy – an epiphany, a beautiful object

When it came time to start thinking about Best Art Vinyl 2018, Andrew was keen for Zack to get involved in designing and making the trophy. “I knew Vinylize would have the necessary skills to turn the original design into something special. Zack and his team specialize in making beautiful objects from vinyl and this is what we wanted the award to be.”

Seeing the initial designs, Zack had an epiphany. “I realized that the trophy needed to be very high end and durable rather than a flimsy piece of plastic,” he says. “I reached out to one of our suppliers of vinyl, Record Industry in Haarlem, Netherlands. They sent me some 7-inch stampers – the things that press the record out of vinyl – and I made the trophy out of them. I had a machinist make me a couple of cones on a lathe. It was then mounted in such a way that the cones wouldn’t roll off.”

Andrew is delighted with the trophy Zack has made. “We originally designed the trophy as a 3D version of our logo. But Zack has taken the original concept to another level. I’m obviously over the moon. It’s a really beautiful object. Bringing in Zack has helped turn Best Art Vinyl into a real award made by designers for designers."

June 18, 2019 by david holzer

Vinylize celebrates 15 years of wearing the music

15 years of wearing the music

David Holzer

Scholar of all things rock and roll and proud wearer of Vinylize.

On April 13, Record Store Day, Vinylize celebrated 15 years of enabling discerning eyewear aficionados, music obsessives and design connoisseurs to wear the music. We marked the occasion with a party at the Tipton Showroom in downtown Budapest and invited our friends, the band Punanny Massif, also celebrating their 15th anniversary.

In honour of the occasion, Tipton Eyeworks created a surprise collection of strictly limited edition PMXV records frames. DJ Bodoo spun some old school vinyl and guests savoured the delights of Hungarian Hübris craft beer.

An interview with Zachary Tipton

Since Vinylize was launched back in 2004, it's become a global brand and has extended its reach through collaborations with sunglasses giant Maui Jim, among others. Music industry giants including AC/DC, Sir Richard Branson, Robbie Williams and Fred Durst have worn Vinylize. Today, Vinylize enables the recycling of more than three tons of vinyl every year. 

It's a big question but how would you describe the past 15 years, Zack?

I’m thrilled with what we’ve achieved but there have been some challenging times along the way.

Go on…

 We had some early manufacturing issues but, most of all, we were really struggling to define the brand and communicate what we were about. Fortunately, in I think 2013, one of our clients out of Montreal helped us hugely. They really wanted Vinylize to succeed and told us we should keep our message simple. With their help, we created a poster that explained Vinylize perfectly.

Around that time, a combination of factors also gave us a massive boost. More and more people started listening to vinyl and it became cool all over again. Thick, chunky black frames in the style we were making came into fashion. Consumers began to embrace recycled products more than ever before and we’re all about recycling.

Are you saying you were lucky?

We were, for sure. But if the product hadn’t been of extremely good quality – durable and beautiful – and I hadn’t been so persistent, we wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are today. 

Let’s talk about the music connection. It’s one of the things that defines Vinylize. How do you see this evolving in future? 

The AC/DC collections have been huge for us and we’re talking to other big name rock and roll bands. But we also want to make connections with other styles of music. Jazz is the obvious one. Sunglasses have always been an intrinsic part of jazz cool. Having said that, we also want to develop our own designs. Without boasting, our glasses sell on their own merits.

Worldwide, how many stores now carry Vinylize? 

We have about 400 clients. The biggest market is the US. Within the EU, it’s Germany, France and Hungary. We also sell to customers in Asia and Australia.

How would you describe Vinylize customers?

They’ve changed over the years. Our customers used to be mostly older and male but now they’re getting younger and we’re becoming more popular with women. In general, they’re very visually aware and into music. They’re creative workers like designers, often in positions of responsibility or self-employed and are aware that they need to make a memorable visual impression themselves. Vinylize fits with their persona and the fact that the glasses are made out of recycled vinyl can be a talking point. Our customers are very loyal. Some have eight or nine pairs of Vinylize.

WHAT ABOUT THE RECYCLING ASPECT?  

 To us it’s as important as it ever was – maybe more so. We recycle between two and three tons of plastic a year, which makes us probably one of the biggest vinyl recyclers in the world. We’re always looking for interesting, innovative ways to make frames out of recycled materials. Earlier this year, we partnered with Nespresso in Hungary to make frames from their coffee capsules in what we called “a salute to recycling.” It was a trial scheme that went fantastically well.

How do you protect against copycats?  

We have people who try to copy our product and our marketing, including at least one of the biggest names in the business. I suppose it goes with the territory. I have actually copyrighted the concentric circles of the groove pattern on Vinylize frames.

And the future?  Is it so bright you have to wear shades?

It’s definitely bright. But, like all young brands, we’re finding ways to grow while keeping things fresh and not diluting the brand. One of our most interesting challenges relates to vinyl itself. It’s usually black so we have to constantly find ways to evolve through design. We’re also constantly exploring collaborations like our Hula Blues project with Maui Jim, putting their lenses in our frames. More than anything else, though, I’m still hugely enthusiastic about Vinylize and love channeling my energy into the brand.

A QUICK CHAT WITH ZOLTAN TIPTON

Zoltan manages Vinylize's operations in the states, from his home in Maui.

For Zoltan, "It's great to see the Vinylize brand reach the heights that it has and see a lot of room for further success thanks to the solid team behind the brand."

He's delighted to see people all over the world wearing Vinylize frames and believes the brand is in "a great position to expand upon the existing base of very happy clients, collaborate with legendary bands and rock the world."

If you'd like one of the remaining strictly limited PMXV frames together with a collector's presentation box, get in touch with us at shop@vinylize.com

April 29, 2019 by david holzer