Mr Hudson on Berlin eyewear institution MYKITA

Mr Hudson on Berlin eyewear institution MYKITA

James Fancourt

Unlike Paris, London or Milan, Berlin isn’t the typical place you’d expect to find a global fashion brand, but it’s home to one of the most forward-thinking eyewear companies in the world—MYKITA. Not only are they based in Berlin, but it’s also here that they hand-assemble their eyewear from start to finish. Mr Hudson was fortunate enough to visit their manufactory, MYKITA HAUS, to witness the process first-hand.

Handmade in Berlin

Kreuzberg is a district that has become synonymous with counterculture in Berlin, so it seemed only fitting that MYKITA, a company that goes against the grain, would be based here. Upon entering the production floor we are introduced to a close-knit team of people, some bending the bridge, some the temples; each using MYKITA’s custom-made tools for the job. Thoughts drifted to that phone, the back of which reads: “Designed in California. Assembled in China”. Not the case with MYKITA. Everything is developed and assembled by hand in this one building.

Assembled in China. Made in Taiwan. Labels like this are so ubiquitous that they no longer hold any significance. But as we watch a temple being laser engraved — the words HANDMADE IN GERMANY materialising across the steel —the words become more tangible. These words are what tie the product to MYKITA HAUS, where employees diligently assemble each piece of eyewear by hand before they’re shipped around the world.

No time to dwell

During the tour, some large boxes full of frames and other parts catch our eye and we enquire as to what they were. A man who has been working with MYKITA since the beginning comes over to explain, with a slight sadness in his voice, that they are to be recycled. He picks up various pieces and describes with enthusiasm which models (no longer in production) they belonged to. As he speaks, we get a sense of the passion the employees at MYKITA have for their work and the scope and scale of what this home-grown company has achieved in its thirteen years’ existence. But it seems that even with the move to these larger premises in 2014, there still isn’t enough room to keep this repository of history around. Then again, MYKITA doesn’t seem like the kind of company to dwell on the past.

After passing through marketing, sales, and their on-site photo studio, we come to the prototyping area. Here, a team of people are working on upcoming designs, with one man skilfully producing all of the physical prototypes by hand. As we look across samples of materials and various models lining the walls and tables, we wonder if we are looking at their next big hit or just one of the many designs that won’t make the cut.

Photo: James Fancourt

Photo: James Fancourt

Pushing the envelope

We are introduced to a frame made of MYLON, their signature material. The process involved in creating it is high-tech and is the result of years of research. We hear terms like ‘polyamide powder’ and ‘CO2 laser sintering’; the whole thing feels beyond comprehension. What we are aware of, though, is that the product we hold in our hands is quite remarkable. It manages to have the artificial feel of plastic, yet with the natural warmness and texture of a material like wood. Above all, though, you can’t fail to notice its near-weightlessness. Slowly putting the frame down, expecting the slightest movement to break what felt like a fragile material, we are reassured that it’s extremely durable. The progressive nature of MYKITA, which produces innovations such as this, is perhaps the most striking thing about the company. They’re not looking to be yet another eyewear manufacturer. They’re looking to push the envelope, to innovate, and it doesn’t stop with materials.

Working with Volumental, a Swedish company that specialise in product customisation based on scans of the human body, MYKITA has developed their next innovation—MY VERY OWN. Using a 3D scanning device to capture the unique contours of an individual’s face, MVO allows the frame design to be micro-adjusted for the perfect fit. As well as this, customers are free to choose the colours of the frame, hinges, and lenses. It’s impressive tech, and once again shows MYKITA’s pioneering spirit.

Although MYKITA eyewear is assembled by hand, the headquarters of MYKITA feel like a well-oiled machine itself. Each person works in perfect synergy with the next, resulting in the high-quality eyewear that MYKITA are known for. It’s increasingly rare these days to find a global company that strives to keep everything under one roof, but as we leave the building, we realise that this is one of the key principles that has led to their success, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.

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