Budapest is home to Tipton, the company that produces Vinylize – one of our favourite independent eyewear collections. One of the reasons why we love selling handcrafted frames at Insight Eye Care is because the product is so much more than a piece of plastic cut from a machine, packaged up and shipped to us (and everyone else on the planet). Zach and Yulia, the owners of Vinylize, invited us into their showroom/studio/Vinylize workshop and told us their story.
The Roots of Vinylize
Originally from Sun Valley, Idaho, Zach stopped studying economics and accounting and started creating eyewear. Yulia, visiting from Russia, was introduced to Zach through a friend when he moved to Hungary, the homeland of this mother. Zach is the mastermind behind Vinylize both in concept and engineering. Yulia is a creative and supportive force behind the scenes and also represents Vinylize internationally at eyewear trade shows. In 1998 Zach decided to construct his own rimless glasses out of stainless steel. Recognizing that Lindberg does this so well, he decided to create eyewear outside the box. Inspired by his father’s record collection he began experimenting with different frame designs. Three years later he was ready to introduce the world to Vinylize.
The Vinylize Journey
Vinylize has taken a meandering journey from initial concept to present day production and worldwide distribution. Zach believes that sometimes you need to get lost in order to retract and find your focused path. A creative expedition is rarely a straight line to success. Zach wanted to create a solid foundation for his Vinylize frames, primarily using black vinyl before exploring other options. After international success with Vinylize, he is finally ready to embrace a new vision: Cinematiq – frames made with an embedded film strip (we ordered it!) Yulia is very cognizant of what we, at Insight Eye Care, appreciate about the collection and is open to constructive feedback. Everyone always has something to say, but Zack and Yulia are able to stay true to their brand and vision in a world of constant change – a virtue of every successful business.
Make Your Own Glasses
Only a couple months ago, Zach and Yulia introduced the opportunity to ‘Make Your Own Glasses.’ Troy, myself and two of our friends, Erin and Kenny, were invited to experience the art of Vinylize craftsmanship. In the boutique optical world we use the term ‘handcrafted’ to explain why a certain brand is a bit more expensive. Following the steps in the hand-finishing process at the Vinylize Workshop was an eye-opening experience. There are so many hands-on steps that lead to a beautifully finished Vinylize frame and the Vinylize team includes about 20 very efficient and skilled individuals who are perfectionists. It took us over three hours to just complete the handmade finishing steps in the workshop!
Finishing Workshop Production Steps
Receive the frame front and temples from the CNC factory
Cut the temple edges to fit the frame front
File the temple edges so they are perpendicular to the frame front
Sand (coarse and fine) the temple edges and frame front corners
Buff (hard and soft) the temples and frame front
Soak and scrub the frame in a finishing solution
Rinse the frame and insert the lenses
Stamp the brand and model name in gold foil
Provide a final adjustment for proper fit
Put the glasses on and look awesome!
Trending in Budapest
As we walked around the striking city of Budapest, we noticed a few prominent eyewear trends. Quite a few men and women had rounder frames with a flat top; Zach told us the shape is called ‘les coupe anglaise.’ Aside from the basic skinny rectangles that we see everywhere in the world, people here in Budapest were embracing rounder shapes, a lot with metal bridge pieces and plastic fronts. We were hard pressed to find an artsy frame; nearly everything was simple and refined. When we did see a cateye shape, we discovered that the woman was from France and we thought, Ah yes, of course! Yulia recommended that we visit Orange Optika because they carry a variety of brands that we would appreciate. Eva, from Orange, was incredibly welcoming; she even facilitated a meeting for us with the designer of Thinwood, a made-in-Budapest brand that stood out to us.
Culture of Budapest
As we reflect upon our time in Budapest, here are some memorable features:
- Burgers. Burgers everywhere!
- Thai Massage. Not the kinky kind, just a heavy influence of Thai culture.
- Distracted walking. Maybe everyone has their eyes to the sky because of the beautifully high architecture.
- Craft Beer. Craftoberfest, you would love it here!
- Baths. Amazing steam saunas and hot and cold plunges to get your blood pumping.
- Conservative fashion. Whether swimwear in the baths or streetwear in the city, the people in Budapest prefer not to flaunt it.
- Activism: a city where the younger generation fought back against dictatorship.