An emphasis on shape and quality workmanship are the hallmarks of KALEOS, a relatively young European eyewear brand now available to Australian optical practices through Sunglass Collective.
All details matter when it comes to eyewear, but there is one element the duo behind Spanish brand KALEOS pay particular attention to in their designs: the shape.
“This is the most essential feature of a frame; it can change the perception of a face. The angles and the geometry involved are the essential elements to master the perfect shape,” KALEOS co-founders Mr Juan Gassó and Ms Claudia Brotons say.
Having launched their collection at SILMO Paris in 2014, a serendipitous meeting has resulted in Australian company Sunglass Collective – owned and operated by the founding family of Eyes Right Optical – exclusively distributing the KALEOS range on Australian shores.
Mr Mark Wymond, CEO and managing director of Sunglass Collective, first learned about KALEOS last year.
“We were in Milan at MIDO in May 2022. We passed their stand and were immediately drawn to it; there was a large crowd, and the energy was amazing. We knew straight away that it was something we wanted to explore further,” he recalls.
“Upon visiting their stand, I discovered that the KALEOS export manager was someone I already knew, it was quite serendipitous really. She understood our business and was very eager to introduce us to Juan Gassó, KALEOS co-founder. Immediately there was a good connection and we felt comfortable.”
Wymond says that it was only after seeing the product that things got serious.
Located in the northwest of Barcelona and surrounded by mountains, KALEOS’ headquarters are set across three floors; the first is the showroom, the second is the main office and the third floor is the design and photography studio.
After supplying KALEOS eyewear for a matter of months, Wymond says the brand is already going from strength-to-strength. It promotes “creativity and individualism” for wearers, and practices are finding it has strong sell-through across demographics, especially attracting clientele in their 20s to 40s.
“The shapes are different yet very much on trend, there is nothing quite like it in the Australian market today,” he says.
From retailer to eyewear design and manufacture
Acknowledging the company’s focus on eyewear shape, the name KALEOS comes from the Greek word for “beautiful shape”.
“The concept of beauty plays an important role in all things KALEOS. A shape is always more than a shape; there is a concept behind it,” founders Gassó and Brotons say.
KALEOS uses predominantly acetate, and is said to work with high quality materials including Italian acetates and Italian lens companies.
“We are very demanding when it comes to the quality we require,” the duo add.
The company’s origins pre-date their debut at SILMO, to 2012.
Gassó, now CEO, opened an optical store with the best curation of glasses and sunglasses brands. Alongside him from the start of this journey was Brotons, KALEOS’ creative director.
The pair met at university and have worked together ever since.
Brotons, who has a fashion background, initially helped Gassó to differentiate his optical store in terms of product, image, and communication. Gassó, who has a background in business administration, has always had a particular interest in architecture and design.
They entered into the optics world without any prior knowledge, but were armed with a desire to merge their fashion-focused approach with a sector that has traditionally had a clinical and practical mindset.
According to the pair, while searching for brands to add to their portfolio, they continually found a lack of exciting curation in terms of frame shape.
This led them to launch KALEOS, their debut collection of fashion eyewear.
Brotons and Gassó began designing together; Brotons creatively developing the frames through drawings, and Gassó fine tuning the technical details.
“We wanted a brand where each detail mattered and the shape of each style was the main focus, alongside all the aesthetics. The imagination should not have limits and this notion was what helped with KALEOS’ positioning,” they said.
“No heritage, no prejudices, no fear, no selling reports to follow; just a blank sheet. This freedom played an important role in discovering the brand DNA, where the importance of shape and creative boldness has been a constant ever since.”
Their showroom served as a lab for their ideas and was an effective way to gain feedback from the final customer about the new ideas and prototypes they were developing.
Initially, the collection was designed solely for the KALEOS store, but following its success, Brotons and Gassó were determined to focus on selected wholesale distribution, making connections with suppliers like Sunglass Collective.
For Wymond, the KALEOS range has been the perfect addition to Sunglass Collective’s current portfolio of brands which include Serengeti Eyewear, Bolle and Morel Azur.
“With these brands we have something to offer consumers that are looking for technical, lifestyle, sport or application-based eyewear. KALEOS is the collection that allows us to promote creativity and individualism. With the range comprising both sunglass and optical frames, it all ties in well and our sales team have really embraced this,” he says.
“I wouldn’t say an emphasis on shapes is necessarily lacking in the market, but right now KALEOS are doing this as well as anyone else. It is absolutely their point-of-difference, but the colours are a huge drawcard too.”
Wymond says KALEOS’ wide appeal ultimately comes back to the shapes and the quality workmanship.
“The thing we love most about it is its broad appeal across demographics. Whilst the typical wearer is someone looking for something a little more adventurous, it appeals equally to younger and more mature consumers,” he says.
“The recent release has also included a lot more men’s and unisex styles, and we are finding this to be the fastest growth area of the collection right now.”
Sunglass Collective launched KALEOS in August 2022, less than 12 months after meeting the company’s export manager in Milan.
Wymond says the uptake has been encouraging.
“It’s a collection that quickly captures people’s interest and this is reflected by the success it has experienced so far. Most pleasing though is the sell through; this demonstrates that the range resonates with practices and end users alike,” he says.
“It’s a rapidly growing range too. In November we released the KALEOS kid’s range, and in autumn we will see a very comprehensive spring-summer 2023 release. There is certainly a great deal to be excited about.”