Ralph Vaessen started to design eyewear about six years ago, after a long career working for the Dutch government. He was looking for new frames for eyeglasses but couldn’t find what he was looking for. Since he was already looking for a career change, he took the opportunity, decided to quit his job and to start a career as a designer in exclusive eyewear. These days his designs are very well known and popular among many famous people and stylists.
You studied Public Administration and worked for the Dutch Government for a long time. What made you decide to make this career change and start designing glasses?
Early 2006 I was looking for new frames for eyeglasses for myself, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I knew exactly the shape I wanted and I also knew it would be the next fashionable style in eyewear. I recognize trends before they become fashion. Anyway, an optician told me that he knew a small atelier that could produce a single set of frames if I could make a drawing of the shape he wanted. I was already looking for a career change and saw an opportunity. ‘Why produce only one private set of frames? Why not produce a complete collection?’ So I decided to quit my job and to start a career as a designer.
How would you describe your brand, what characterizes your designs?
The art of craftsmanship. Handcrafted premium couture & bespoke natural horn eyewear. ‘Contemporary classics’ for the discerning connoisseur.
What or who inspires you?
What happens ‘underground’ in London or New York, so I get inspired from what I see around me on the street, I recognize what will be then next thing in eyewear.
Is there any specific target group you design for or that you keep in mind while creating your glasses?
I’m my own target group, I design what I would like to wear myself.
Your brand is known worldwide, international press is writing about you all the time and your glasses are sold in cities like New York and Milano. What do you think the reason for your success is?
Several reasons together, first of all I have an unique brand. My eyewear is unique, I’m the only one who uses this classic, luxurious and beautiful natural material for strong and fashionable eyewear. I also believe my brand and the way I brand it is authentic. I won several awards for both the campaigns and website but its more then just the campaign. Its also the story behind the brand and what I believe in, what I needed to do, quit my job to start to design and to produce the most beautiful eyewear. A few prestigious concept stores and department stores started to sell my eyewear and celebrities like Christian Louboutin, David Lynch, Kate Moss, and Rihanna became interested. And of course, interviews and publications by the most leading international magazines and influential style blogs make my brand more well known.
What are you doing in ten years? Is there anything more you would like to achieve or do?
I’m going to expand my brand, but for the next coming years I decided to focus on the eyewear first. I want to to develop it and to get even more brand name awareness, to make the brand ready for more products beside the eyewear, like clothing, shoes, leather goods and perfume.