Götti: 20 Jahre Multitasking


14 Nov Götti: 20 Jahre Multitasking

Text & Photos: Stefan Dongus

The most impressive quality about götti is the passion poured into everything the Swiss label puts out, including the fact that every single step of the value chain is enhanced with the brand’s very own unique DNA. Basically, the Swiss-based company does almost everything by itself – in-house and hands-on – from product development to communications all the way to distribution. Sven Götti is a big believer in multitasking and demands of his team that every single product receives lots of love on every single step of the process. To spend time with Sven Götti also means to realize that this flexible approach not only applies to his professional ambitions, but seamlessly carries over into his private life. But for anyone who is passionate about their work, separating these two spheres is hardly feasible, anyhow… Meanwhile, the company director is always looking for inspiring moments and is well aware of the creative potential hiding behind professional setbacks and obstacles. Keeping things stable also means constant renewal – at least to Sven Götti, all in-line with his philosophy: “If you don’t go with the times, you’ll be gone with the times.”

Hello Sven. Just to get this right from the start: If I put www.götti.ch in my Web browser, nothing happens. Only when I enter www.gotti.ch. Why is that?
We’re consciously communicating our website without the umlaut in order for it to be available internationally. Most languages don’t really use the little “ö,” you know… But you’ll also be able to find us on Google with the “ö” in our name!

That sounds like a good idea, since your international audience is growing. Please give us a short overview of your career, in fast-forward…
I received an education as an optometrist and master optician. In between, I spent many years abroad, including stints as an optician in Vienna and St. Tropez. In 1993, I started my own independent business with the Götti + Niederer optical store in Luzern. 1998 saw the launch of götti SWITZERLAND. I currently live in Zurich as a married family man and father of an 11-year-old daughter.

What attracted you to eyewear? Was it by chance or something you were introduced to early on?
It was a fortunate coincidence! At the time I was at the point where I was ready to pick a career, and someone suggested becoming an optometrist. So I set out looking for a firm where apprentices are trained – and found one in Zurich.

What do you find particularly motivating about your job?
Currently it’s my passion for glasses as a product. I’m thrilled whenever I can tackle a new collection. Then there’s the painstaking process of creation and finally, when all is said and done, the pleasant moment of presenting your work. Every new collection is always like a marathon.

Passion is closely tied to inspiration. Where do you find yours?
Most of my inspiration comes from everyday life. But also exhibitions, art and furniture tradeshows. For instance, when I see everyone at an event wearing black nerd glasses, I can’t help but wonder to myself: What kind of glasses would a trendsetter need to wear right now in order to stand out from the masses?

What are some of the challenges, past and present, when it comes to building your own company?
The first challenge clearly was to build an optical store right from scratch. The next big challenge was – on top of the day-to-day business as an optometrist – to launch an entire eyewear collection. Especially since I had not even the slightest clue about how to draw glasses and where to have them manufactured. Right now I find it challenging to keep up with the various demands of our customers and to keep the collection as well as the company with all its facets up and running.

Looking at your company, you seem to be doing a good job so far… Were there times when you wanted to throw in the towel?
These kinds of thoughts can come up temporarily when there are production problems or when I’m not satisfied with the execution of the design for a pair of glasses. But then the next thought quickly comes up – how to fix the problem! These critical phases are also pretty valuable. The highs are nice and you need to be able to enjoy them. But change – which also oftentimes means improvement – mostly comes from a sense of dissatisfaction.

What characterizes Switzerland as a manufacturing site for eyewear?
Switzerland does enjoy a reputation for manufacturing clocks and watches, but there still is no production of eyewear here. So we focus on eyewear development in these parts. For our production, we resort to nearby neighbor countries or locations abroad.

Have you thought about outsourcing distribution and development as well?
No, I really like having it here in Zurich. It’s the largest city in Switzerland and accordingly, Zurich has lots to offer in every aspect. The infrastructure is ideal for getting work done. I also like the pretty pronounced changes of seasons of the year here in my home country. Every day sunshine – that wouldn’t be for me. I like to create the ties to our partners abroad right here in our base on Lake Zurich.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of götti. How many employees will be joining the celebration?
We have ten employees at the store, plus 17 at the distribution headquarters in Waedenswil and 25 additional distribution employees worldwide.

So there are about 50 employees working for the “ö” brand. This really calls for human resources and development. What are your criteria for choosing new employees?
In most cases, the process starts on the other side: It’s not us putting out classifieds, but the employees finding us. Right now we are practically the only internationally active eyewear company in all of Switzerland. So there aren’t that many alternatives for people looking to work for a Swiss eyewear label. By the way, most of our people are trained optometrists.

What do your employees appreciate the most about your company?
Quite naturally, we also have a day-to-day routine that comes with the usual downsides. But I still think that we cultivate a pleasant and productive working atmosphere. We are in contact with lots of international customers, since we ship to opticians all around the world from Zurich. Everything happens right here at the company and the employees are really close to the action.

When you set out to handle everything in-house, things can get strenuous pretty quickly. Are there some aspects you are glad to have other people take care of?
We always conduct our photo shoots with external photographers. This brings in artists that can contribute new impulses from the outside. Over the past two years, Loan Nguyen was behind the camera during our campaigns. She also realized the current “I Love Your Glasses” campaign for us. Based on these campaigns, we create a new götti “World” that stays with us for a year at a time.

Who is in charge of designing the glasses? Does the boss get to put his touches on them?
Everything that says götti on the outside also has Götti on the inside. Eyewear design and developing the collection is part of my passion and my responsibility. Twice every year, I design the shapes and concepts for a new collection from the ground up. And of course I can draw on the support of a great team – otherwise all of this would not be feasible.

Aside from eyewear design, what would you say are götti’s greatest assets? What makes your label valuable?
There are a number of different aspects that make an eyewear collection successful as a whole. The most important part of our business, next to the design and the quality, is controlling the interface with the customer in terms of sales and here at the office. I think that our long-term customers appreciate the continuity and evolution in our collection. This has made us an important and reliable partner for many opticians.

How many collections and pieces of eyewear are you releasing every year?
We design about 40 new models every year, which we present at tradeshows such as opti, Mido and Silmo. The final number also depends on how many models will be phased out of current collections – and it’s also limited by the suitcase space of our sales reps…

Well, you might have to get them some bigger suitcases! On that note: götti is widely regarded as a prescription frames brand, but your collections increasingly feature sunglasses…
Ever since launching the SPIN & STOW temple technology allowing for glasses – or sunglasses for that matter – to be folded into a flat position, the entire sunglasses field has become more relevant for us. We are looking to expand this segment in the near future – also replete with a service for fitting lenses, which we are now also offering “in-house.”

Next to your service offering, what are the special characteristics of götti eyewear?
You can spot götti eyewear at a store because of the typical language of forms behind the brand. Sometimes at customer events you can see the entire götti collection on display, and it’s a very harmonious overall impression of shapes and colors. And when you pick up a pair of glasses, it’s the high-end quality finish that even laypeople can sense intuitively.

What kind of materials are your favorites to play with during production?
We implement an equal share of acetate and titanium in our collections. I enjoy playing with layers of depth and making the beauty within the material visible somehow. In the new Silmo collection, even our titanium glasses will have a three-dimensional look.

That sound exciting. What’s your process for creating a new collection?
It all starts with an idea that needs to be captured on paper. Afterwards, we machine the form samples that will be subject to several rounds of voting. Once the form language behind a pair of glasses is on-point, we discuss the concept with the respective producers. From that point forward, there’s close cooperation between the design and production departments until the results match our vision.

Which model is your personal favorite?
Right now it’s the PHIL.

And which materials and styles do you expect to be in high demand over the next few years?
After this massive boom of acetate there has to be something different. Most likely, the pendulum will swing towards metal frames again. But that calls for the right implementation, of course.

What kinds of optical stores sell götti?
In practice, these are owner-operated specialty stores with an eye for quality and design. Over the years, we have realized that we create a win-win situation by producing the best possible quality. Our customers, which tend to be the best opticians in their respective regions, have to be able to stand out from their local competitors in part through their line-up of eyewear labels.

So it’s your sales strategy to work with the top dogs in every region?
We like to open up new accounts rather selectively. We prefer good customers that understand the collection and want to work with us extensively, rather than having the biggest possible amount of customers.

The leading optical store in the town of Luzern is probably your own shop, which also sells other renowned labels. Do you have plans to open other locations or will Luzern remain unique? And how about a mono label or flagship store? Mykita is an example for operating these kinds of stores in select metropolitan areas. That has it’s advantages in terms of product presentation and brand exposure, right?
The Götti + Niederer store in Luzern will remain unique. It’s the birthplace of götti SWITZERLAND and very dear to my heart. Right now we are content and happy with supplying specialty stores with our eyewear. But a götti showroom for showcasing everything happening around a new collection would be an exciting project. We’ll have to wait and see…

What is the typical götti customer like? Technically adept or rather the lifestyle-oriented cosmopolitan type?
Titanium customers tend to be more technically adept, the acetate customers more on the lifestyle and cosmopolitan side of the spectrum.

What kind of photo models are featured in your photo shoots? Agency models with fashion appeal or rather the “girls next door”?
We usually work with agency models. But that also depends on the project and the photographer’s artistic direction.

For the “I Love Your Glasses” project, models were shot with a double exposure technique. Is that primarily an aesthetic look or laden with deeper meaning?
This project was mainly about the aesthetics of the look. Once we have the final photos, we create a world with a slogan and sometimes even theme music to create the campaign. The best feedback is when customers think that it’s all been conceptualized right from the very start.

What is the story behind the incorporated company EYETECH AG?
We founded EYETECH at the same time as götti SWITZERLAND. It is now an important lenses supplier in Switzerland and tied in closely with götti Switzerland in terms of office space and staff. Next to high-end products in the most comprehensive glass portfolio Switzerland has to offer, EYETECH supports independent retailers with individualized marketing initiatives through the V.EYE.P service. From New Media such as Facebook or websites to photo shoots of stores and employees or entire brochures highlighting the store – we can cover all that in-house for our EYETECH customers. Additionally, EYETECH also handles the entire creative implementation of the Hall of Frame tradeshows in Zurich and Stuttgart.

What’s the most fun part about your job?
Next to tinkering with new glasses, I highly enjoy building a brand together with my team and realizing new ideas.

Is there another Sven Götti besides the eyewear designer?
There’s also the former skateboarder and drummer, because this DNA is always a part of you. Today there is also the family man and the entrepreneur. Then there’s the gourmet and wine aficionado und right now also the home-builder, since we have been renovating our house in Zurich for the past year.

That sounds rather versatile. Du you have diversified tastes as well? Which other eyewear labels do you like? It’s okay to share…
I can share that I’d rather not name any labels… Of course I admire the success stories among eyewear brands. But generally, I really like labels that have been around on the market for a few years. That means they are able to renew themselves and go with the times. What’s the saying again? If you don’t go with the times, you’ll be gone with the times!

Maybe that question was to close to home. But hey, what labels do you like outside the eyewear industry and why?
There’s a lot that inspires me. For apparel, I currently enjoy ACNE from Sweden or Marc Jacobs. I also really like Jasper Morrison products. There are many other things that get me going, for example light switches by Meljac in Paris, which I just ordered for our house.

Where do you see götti headed over the next ten years… speaking for the brand and the man behind it?
It would be great if one or the other long-term project we are working on could be brought to market. Where do I see myself personally in ten years? My daughter will have flown the coop by then and I’ll be able to pursue lots of interesting things with my wife without any time pressure.

And finally: If götti wasn’t an eyewear company, what kind of products would you be making?
I have the feeling that sooner or later we would have ended up developing some kind of product. I’m an aesthetic tinkerer with a sense for business. Maybe shoes, furniture, video games… everything can be interesting!