15 years of wearing the music
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.
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.
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 Zolton, "It's great to see the Vinlylize 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 email@example.com