The name Silhouette is synonymous with fine quality and craftsmanship in the eyewear industry. As the company reaches it’s 50th anniversary this year, this tradition continues to grow and expand for a new generation of wearers.
Based in Austria, Silhouette was one of the first companies in the industry to perfect mixing fashion and function. The company has had a
world-wide impact on the industry. It is available through Canadian Optical Supply (COS).
“When the company was founded there was no such things as fashion in eyewear,” said COS president Robert Hochstadter. “They were the first
ones to put it out in the market.
The two companies have been working together for decades, a relationship which has allowed for the most innovative and fashionable eyewear to reach the Canadian market.” He notes, “Eyewear is a medical device. There are expectations to be able to see and customers expect it to
Hochstadter said the three keys to the Silhouette brand have always been fashion, quality and comfort/fit.
He said it was rare to find a piece of eyewear that incorporated all three into the design. The Silhouette mounting system did this by creating pieces that were sleek, light and easy to wear.
“We have never wanted to get caught in trends,” said Hochstadter. “The eyecare providers (ECPs) and consumers know what to expect.”
It may seem difficult to imagine coming up with new looks and designs for half a century. Inspiration comes from nature, architecture and
minimalist lines. Innovation and inspiration have always been part of what makes Silhouette one of the industry’s most desirable brands.
In The Beginning
The direction to create glasses that were both elegant and functional came from the initial founding of the company by Anneliese and Arnold Schmied Senior with just five employees and a designer.
COS Secretary-Treasurer Judith Hochstadter remembers working with Schmied during the early days and the pride he took in creating the perfect pair of glasses.
“From the beginning he made up his mind that he was going to make nice glasses for customers,” she said, noting style and fashion were very
important to Schmieid.
She said a global sales team was built that brought eyewear to the industry on a greater scale than ever before.
“He changed the philosophy of the industry,” she said.
This included the creation of a magazine called Journal Couture, the first of its kind to focus exclusively on the fashion of eyewear. It was the first time in the industry that eyewear was seen as a fashionable accessory and not just something that ‘had’ to be worn.
Innovation and Technology
What makes Silhouette an industry innovator is the desire to create the perfect pair of glasses from every aspect of the design.
They were among the first companies to adopt titanium as a design material and have lead the way in refining and mastering this technology.
“We are always working on the materials,” said Hochstadter. “We want to make it lighter, stronger.”
Experimentation with colour has lead to new and exciting design elements that give the eyewear a greater intensity.
It was Gerhard Fuchs who would master this technology with the introduction of Titan Minimal Art, which is the lens of choice for NASA,
which would eventually sell more than nine million pieces.
It was first used by the space program by astronauts William McArthur and Peter J.K. Wisoff on the space shuttle Discovery and was awarded as Certified Space Technology made in 2004.
The screwless hinge would be the next major step in design. This would create a piece of eyewear that exceeded in the area of functionality and one of the lightest and most flexible pieces on the market.
“Screws can be a problem because they are small and can get lost. Screwless saves a lot of hassle when it comes to maintenance,” said hochstadter. SPX took it one step further with an unmatched high-tech polymer composite. The material lasts twice as long as acetate and has a high resistance to scratching.
“It takes eyewear in a different direction,” he said adding it’s a direction Silhouette plans to continue. “We will remain on the cutting edge of minimalist design.”
He added the goal is to create innovative ophthalmic designs based on the future to give the most comfortable and luxurious eyewear experience. •
To learn more about Silhouette in Canada visit www.silhouette.com.