From its seaside studio in Bergen, eyewear brand KAIBOSH is fast framing up to conquer the international accessories market with clean and pared-back opticals and shades that take classic Scandinavian style up a new notch.
The company was set up by the entrepreneurs behind Norwegian optical company Flo. Helge Flo and Michelle Rowley had met in a Paris bar in 2001, set off for Norway and never looked back.
Following the success of Flo, which now stocks in over 50 countries, the pair and their team used feedback from the most stylish spectacle wearers they found around the world to come up with a new concept.
Their confidants were fed up with putting on the same tired frames everyday but couldn’t splash out for regular trips to the opticians for new pairs. KAIBOSH was born to offer products they could afford and build a personal collection with.
An online guide was created for lenses and frame sizes and styles, so customers could easily find and order their perfect pair of specs or shades and sport the Scandinavian-influenced styles from Bergen to Brisbane.
KAIBOSH’s vision is to offer designs that are both affordable and fun – frames in the range have been playfully given names like 70’s Fling, Adorkable and A Scandinavian in NY. A recent collaboration with Norwegian fashion label HAiK resulted in a collection of reversible sunglasses that can be flipped around to suit the wearer’s mood.
KAIBOSH has stores in Bergen and Copenhagen for anyone making the trip North. Otherwise, the designs are available at selected London retailers and online. Look sharp.
How did KAIBOSH begin?
After over ten years of designing and producing eyewear under licence for major Scandinavian fashion brands, we had gained a lot of insights into the behaviour of eyewear users. We often noticed a mis-match between people’s style and their glasses: people were holding onto an out-dated pair of frames due to the cost and inconvenience of getting a new pair.
We started KAIBOSH as a solution to this. We wanted to create an enjoyable and simple purchasing experience with clear and affordable pricing, and design should play a leading role in the development of the entire concept from start to finish.
How is your eyewear different from other brands?
We don’t just design eyewear, we design a total concept that has removed many of the traditional barriers to purchase. This takes eyewear out of the traditional optical channel and into the world of design and fashion.
KAIBOSH is a multi-channel concept, selling online, through shop-in-shop solutions in leading fashion and lifestyle stores, as well as inspiring signature spaces.
Where are you based, and how does your location influence the designs and the company?
Our head office is in Bergen, Norway, and we also have bases in Copenhagen and Warsaw. We have a Scandinavian DNA so that is inevitably reflected in our designs but we’re not necessarily a typical Norwegian company. We have quite an international workforce and tand this affects our culture quite dramatically. I would say we’re a Norwegian company that looks outwards.
What is typically Scandinavian about your eyewear?
Focus on form without too much additional complication. We also work hard on a colour palette that reflects the Scandinavian aesthetic, which is clean and pared back.
Where else do you take inspiration from?
Our most important inspiration comes from understanding our customers and what’s going on in their worlds. We also work a lot with other designers and brands where we combine their worlds with the KAIBOSH world – that’s great fun.
Which other Norwegian fashion and accessories brands are you excited about?
Norwegian Rain are doing world-class work with their raincoats and, when it comes to accessories, Bjørg is a stand-out jewellery brand. On a more conceptual level there’s a brand called HAiK who are doing a lot of really interesting projects with traditional Norwegian producers.
Where can we buy your products in London?
You can also find our sunglasses in selected retailers such as The Conran Store, Badger, The Content Store and The Hub. You can also buy opticals and sunglasses online at kaibosh.com.