The Austrian brand throwing shade on the sunglasses industry by going back to basics, with inimitable results
When Christoph Egger first decided to make sunglasses way back in ‘04, he had no idea what was in store. It’s not just that he wanted to do things differently, he wanted to do something that no-one had even thought about before: make unbreakable sunglasses.
There were a few inspirations for Egger’s idealistic vision. Not long after a friend of his injured an eye in a skiing accident, he witnessed a couple arguing after one sat on the other’s glasses, and the unbreakable seed was planted in his mind. More than that, though, Egger was human, which meant that he, like all of us, had broken a pair of sunglasses in his time; whether they’re chipped, cracked or crushed underfoot, shades have never been designed for longevity. At least they didn’t use to be.
Enthralled by the challenge of creating an unbreakable product, Egger sold his business and rented the basement of a carpentry workshop in rural Mayrhofen, in Austria’s Zillertal valley. In that rustic, down-to-earth setting, Egger set about designing and manufacturing a product that global corporations in their steel and glass complexes hadn’t even contemplated.
Unfortunately, the fairytale didn’t continue seamlessly. In fact, the first editions of Gloryfy Unbreakable failed miserably. Egger had attempted to rework the commonly used silicone, but the results were far from the standard that he’d set himself (read: they were not unbreakable). In fact, it took seven years of intense research and development to finally produce a pair of sunglasses that lived up to the brand’s name, and to be able to produce those glasses en masse. Once they had, though, the results were astounding.
Using a specially formulated material – the details of which are closely-guarded company secret – Gloryfy had built a range of sports sunglasses that were lightweight, flexible and comfortable, but damn near indestructible. You could stand on them, stash them in a rucksack and they’d bounce back, good as new. Even the lenses had been created specially by Gloryfy, with first class UV protection to match the solid build. Gloryfy are quick to point out that their shades can be destroyed – if you drive over them in a car then chances are they won’t last long. But for everyday scenarios around the house and in the mountains, they’re practically bulletproof.
Outdoor adventurers across the continent were soon raving about these robust but stylish sunglasses, but Gloryfy weren’t finished yet. By that point, Egger had expanded his operation, hiring a crew of creative designers and meticulous manufacturers, though still based in Mayrhofen; they’d just rented more of the carpenters’ workshop. In 2014, they unveiled a range of lifestyle shades designed for everyday use, with style to rival anything on the high street but still featuring that unbreakable tag.
Before long, everyone from European celebrities to international athletes were sporting Gloryfy sunglasses. It’s an impressive achievement for a brand that shunned the conventions of an industry they describe as a ‘shark tank’ – that is, to have them cheaply made in Asia using poor quality materials. Egger and his team took the process right back to the drawing board, creating their own materials and consulting guys out in the mountains for advice on design and style. They created a unique product and are continuing to develop it to this day, with a new range of optical glasses recently released.
The unbreakable tag is no gimmick, either. Just a few months ago, Gloryfy were contacted by a customer whose father had been involved in a motorcycle accident, resulting in some pretty grisly facial injuries. Fortunately, though, he was also sporting a pair of unbreakable sunglasses; the doctors informed him that had he been wearing cheaper, more flimsy shades, there’s a strong chance that they’d have shattered, blinding him. Gloryfy didn’t design their products to ward against scenarios like that, but it goes to show these are sunglasses of a far, far superior quality.