At the end of October, I was given the opportunity to visit the Brillenlabel K ind of B ohemian L ifestyle in St. Leon Rot, to chat with their designer/co-owner Ralph Albrecht and to take a look behind their scenes as well as the current “KBL Pure Classic” Collection. My impressions and insights I have held and would like to share these with you now.
KBL-Fun, Style And Joy Of Life
The label was founded by three friends in New York in 2009 and has captured the very special spirit of the metropolis from the very beginning. In 2013, Ralph Albrecht and the producer took over the spectacle label and developed it with his own vision, which is clearly evident in the current collections of KBL.
Here Ralph has the advantage on his side, that he was before the takeover of the label years in the glasses business was on the road.Since 1985 he has been a trained eye optician. In 1991, he switched to the distribution of eyeglasses on the market. From 1999 onwards, he became a sales manager at Oliver Peoples and was able to gain insight into the design of eyeglasses and the corresponding design and form. He now uses these experiences at KBL to further develop the label and his spectacle frame.
On the market, Ralph sees its own company as a so-called independent label, which stands out from competitors by an extremely lean organization. KBL refrains from a large number of intermediaries and manufacturing companies, but is in direct contact with its producer. As a result, the label has a great influence on its own products and design. Ralph’s hands in design, especially with regard to design, are supported by technical draftsmen, who help to elaborate the production-relevant details.
This slim lineup is an advantage in today’s eyewear market. Ralph gave an insight into the past of the spectacle business-15 years ago-when a producer could enter the market with a new, creative model and the competition was only one and a half years later with similar models. Nowadays this reaction to the competition takes place within a few weeks. What is largely due to the fast speed and the required, low response time, combined with modern manufacturing processes such as the 3D printing of spectacle frames.
It is precisely this modernization of the manufacturing process that is used to process materials which until before years were not even discussed, in order to produce spectacle frames. For example, the “KBL Pure Classic” collection uses titanium to produce frames and bars. However, here too, it is not all that glitters.
Ralph Albrecht can not imagine, for example, that spectacle frames from the 3D printer on the market. As a spectacle wearer you would like to keep the glasses in the hand before purchase-as I can confirm myself-and not on the computer by means of a CAD model, which is printed afterwards. Clearly, such specimens can be individually customized from the 3D printer, but the selection of different spectacle frames also helps to find the right model for you.
Inspiration, Visions And Future Development
During our conversation, we also talked about the inspiration and origin of his ideas for KBL. They play an extremely important role when it comes to the creation of new spectacle frames. Thus, Ralph is inspired by versions of the past, especially from the 60s, 70s or 80s. He always tries not to bring them one-to-one into the present, but with a certain twist. Whether it is by using other materials and manufacturing processes or customizing the design.
However, it is important to him that KBL retains the essence of these old versions and does not dilute them. In addition to old versions, he also uses architecture, watches and shoes as a model for his designs. For the current “KBL Pure Classic” collection, he has found inspiration in classic cars. A 1964 Mustang, in particular its parallel running line on the side of the vehicle, he took up with the current collection. It is precisely these parallel lines that can be seen on the spectacle frame.
The current models are mainly made of Italian acetate and titanium from Japan. Materials that are made to the desired shape by high-quality manufacturing. Of particular note here is the fact that the label does not mill its brackets from acetate plates, but instead lures them-this makes the racks more precise and less waste.
KBL also does not compromise on the glasses used and cooperates with the well-known Italian manufacturer Barberini, in order to be able to offer the carriers extraordinary color sequences. Because, according to Ralph, it is also a good idea to take a look at the different negotiating methods and production processes of the Italians.
“KBL Pure Classic” Collection-Pure And Yet Detail…
We have already received some insights into the inspiration, the production processes and the structure of KBL co-owner Ralph Albrecht. Now we see the “KBL Pure Classic” collection like Ralph all this in its current models. Inspired by the “KBL Pure Classic” collection by DEN Classic and icons of the 1970s and 1980s-timeless elegance and great attention to detail complete the spectacle frames.
Here, too, are the little things that convince. For example, the “KBL Pure Classic” collection uses titanium on the material used. Not only the frame, but also the nose pads are made of titanium, which are very thin and still have a special value.
This reflects Ralph Albrecht’s claim to his own designs, which he described as follows:
“My way of thinking as I am, I would like to do something beautiful, something perfect. Sure, you’re never perfect, but you’re trying to get close to it. “
The “pure” characteristics are mirrored by the models alone, because classic acetate coatings at the end of the temple are not required. Even without these, the frame is well positioned. The idea of letting the frame run outwards contributes to the fact that the spectacle frame adapts to the natural oval head shape and thus does not create any pressure points. Individually, these are all small things. On the whole collection, these show the attention to detail at KBL.
The label uses a special PVD process to bring the color to the frame so that the wearer has long-lasting pleasure in his glasses. This allows better adhesion of the paint and prevents it from getting loose from the frame over time. Color is also found not only on the titanium bars, but also in the area of the lens mount. Thus, a milled groove, which is deposited with color, is found there. Another detail.
Apart from that, the six optical models and four sunglasses shine through their “pure” character, where other spectacle labs use thick logos can be found with KBL only a small KBL icon at the end of the temple. When naming the models, Ralph has also been inspired by classics. So the models bear the names of the legendary actors: Newman, The Grant, or Lancaster.
Conclusion: My Look Behind The Scenes At KBL
It was definitely an interesting afternoon, which I spent with Ralph Albrecht in the KBL office. After all, you do not always learn what a work is behind the glasses we wear every day. Most of all, however, I liked the fact that Ralph is not wrong to create his products. On the contrary, he embodies these thoughts correctly.
Especially with regard to the “KBL Pure Classic” collection, it is noticeable that Ralph not only pursues a minimalistic, pure design approach, but also lives it himself. None of his garments shines through too much detail, big labels or other abnormalities. Fits easy!