By Breanna Benz
The German-engineered architectural energy is apparent. The bright white walls, dispensing trays, LED lighting and display shelves clarify intent before any salesperson speaks a word. Just off the ribbon of Soho’s frenetic Broadway retail beltway, Mykita is an oasis off the beaten path offering deliciously sterile air in a gulf of high ceilings and quietly stark surroundings.
The retail gem hidden within the folds of micro Soho backstreets is the very first Mykita store in the U.S., opened in July, joining Berlin, Paris, Zurich, Vienna, Tokyo, Monterrey and Cartagena. The Berlin-based eyewear company felt ready to address their U.S. supporters and offer them the same service their enthusiasts receive overseas. “Since the U.S. accounts for around 20 percent of our international sales, it was always our aim to be present with our own store here. Even more important is that we wanted to be able to offer our American customers the full Mykita brand experience, from the high-end product to the best optical solutions,” says Moritz Krueger, CEO and creative director of Mykita.
The NYC shop offers 1,200 frames in stock, with 700 of those frames poised on display, including its Mylon collection, Mykita’s popular, proprietary 3D-printed frames, perfected after investing intense research and energy to turn raw material into beautifully-colored and textured eyewear produced with almost no waste. They’re 60 percent lighter than acetate, easy to work with and extremely flexible. The staff describes customers’ reaction to Mylon as love at first sight.
Each Mykita frame receives individual treatment—one white ledge per piece, reinvented from industrial shelving supports forming the monochrome “Mykita Wall,” a feature in all Mykita locations. The display puts each item in a solo show, leaving breathing room for a roving eye to slide through the wall’s collection as a whole or set sights on one standout piece.
Despite a meticulously simple vibrancy, creativity abounds with each blink. Every component of the store’s makeup was built in Germany and shipped to the U.S. Recycled flight attendant trolleys are used for display tables with built-in storage. A fluorescent light installation is aligned with the metal pipes from the Art Deco factory building’s original sprinkler system in a nod to the structure’s beginnings. The frames are illuminated by a strategic glowing aura from custom-installed white LED lights, left static during the day and programmed to produce a spectacular if eerie light show when the sun slips behind the low Soho skyline.
They’ve been received well in the community, with neighbors stopping in to see what’s lighting up their block. “We fully conceived the store concept in-house, thus it’s very personal. We tried to create our own world, and we are very happy with the result, which has exceeded all expectations,” Krueger says.
A stunning aura may be the showstopper entering the space through what seems like 10-foot leaden and glass doors, but the staff plunges in with bright smiles and a welcoming breeze through introductions. The ambiance transforms to a relaxed and enlightening info session, and the team steals the show.
The crew was eager to entrust 20/20 with a close-up of their hard work, a project that each individual seemed intently (and deservingly) proud of. Mykita president Cedric Moreau, shop manager Marie Ezanno and resident optician and optometrist Carl Cameau Jr., and Vanessa T. Christopherson, OD, were all on hand with their own breed of on-brand enthusiasm and intelligence that harmonized to make them seem tied far longer than a few months.
Mykita partnered with Carl Zeiss Vision, Essilor and Christopherson to offer full-service eyecare, making a push to customize and fine-tune the end product, from the experience of picking frames to the moment eyewear is delivered. “To offer a holistic world, which unites our design principles with optical precision made in Germany, is one of the main principals of our shop concept. That’s why we have a shop-integrated laboratory, which is equipped with state-of-the-art precision instruments from the world-renowned optical specialist Zeiss. Every customer can consult the Mykita in-house optometrist, who generates customized optical profiles and performs an exact adaptation of frame and lens to the wearer’s face,” says Krueger.
Mykita’s NYC sales are made up of approximately half optical frames and half sunglasses. When it took up residence among the art galleries and designer flagship stores near its Crosby Street location, the staff noted customer interest stemming from the fashion element behind Mykita, but after a short time in the neighborhood, their visitors began to understand the brand’s truly optical heritage. Customers aware of the Mykita product as an accessory are now experiencing the Mykita optical service in its entirety, driving their interest in the “one-stop eyecare” aspect, with the Mykita brand front and center.
“The future strategy when it comes to growth is that we still want to keep a very exclusive distribution, which means attaining the maximum global potential for our brand with the minimum of points of sale,” says Krueger. “Over the last four years, we’ve seen that the holistic concept of our first shops worked out well, so we are convinced that it also can work out on a bigger scale.”
Mykita is weaving the future of eyewear through each location’s unique and special design principles, its conscious corporate character and an integrated approach to caring for customers. Keep your eyes open for the next metropolis lucky enough to set the stage for Mykita because the exhilaration behind the brand is as infectious as its international strategy is promising. ■