What a trip! Amy visited the theo eyewear headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium this month to learn more about the brand. The brand has an inspiring story and ethos rooted in family, as well as an incredibly cool office!
Wims Somers and his wife Jamme opened their own optician, Somers Optiek in 1981 and in 1987 Wim met Patrick Hoet who he was inspired to collaborate and start the theo eyewear brand with. Patrick as the designer, and Wim as the optician. Wim wanted unique frames he knew his patients would love and that he couldn’t find on the market. Patrick suggested the brand should be named after him, the designer after all! Wim pointed out his surname ‘Hoet’ could be pronounced differently in different languages, and it would be good to have some more universal. So, they eventually decided on an anagram of his name – Theo.
Son Jan took over the shop side of things when his parents retired and his brothers Mik and Toon run the head office. Toon oversees the design team, Patrick is still designing for Theo but they have also employed other designers including the wonderful Matali Crasset. Toon must sign off every design as they say he has ‘inherited his father’s taste’ so he ensures every frame keeps its Theo identity!
The prototypes take around three months to be sent out, then when signed off go into production. All the completed products pass through the office in Antwerp where they are thoroughly quality checked and packaged to be sent to us. The offices have rooms full of glasses, including vintage collections as they do not throw away any models! An incredible treasure trove, you could spend hours exploring. The frames are made in Jura, France known for its high-quality factories and makers. Every stage of the production process has an impeccable attention to detail – these handmade frames are really handmade, with each frame touching around 50 hands during the process.
The two tone colour sprayed models have to be individually covered then sprayed to ensure the colour is applied correctly, and many nose pads are soldered on by one expert maker.
After learning more about the story and production there was a trip to the store in the centre of Antwerp. The store is wonderfully quirky with frames galore but still carefully styled and tucked away in drawers. Pops of colour everywhere and a feast for the eyes, including these funky chairs that are like sitting in the palm of a hand!
A super inspirational trip where you can see and feel the love that goes into this brand and with some of the Theo ambassadors and other employees working there since its launch, as well as a great opportunity to meet likeminded opticians who also love Theo. A brand that is always innovating, always personal and always fun!