A 20/20 EXCLUSIVE WITH ANDY WOLF EYEWEAR CO-FOUNDER AND CEO ANDY PIRKHEIM ON HIS BRAND AND CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
By Jillian Urcelay
JU: How would you describe your eyewear collection to someone unfamiliar with your brand?
AP: An idea among friends—that was the beginning of Andy Wolf Eyewear. In 2006, the eyewear label was founded by me (the Andy in our name) and Wolfgang Scheucher (the Wolf in our name). We started very small with a great vision to combine local traditional eyewear craftsmanship with contemporary, innovative design. The key columns of Andy Wolf are handmade, sustainable and fashion since day one. We are clearly a design company. Today, our frames are worn worldwide and by world stars like Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey. You can get our eyewear in 69 countries in both optical and fashion stores, and the trend is constantly rising. That makes me proud.
Our eyewear collection is made to underline the personality. There is no accounting for taste, and that’s why Andy Wolf has the right glasses for every taste, style and face. We are often vintage inspired; we pay close attention to shape and fit; and we have an insatiable hunger for color and expression. Even though you will find classic shapes that are timeless and restrained, we are bold and brave in others. Due to our passion, we find ourselves often as trendsetters in the eyewear world—and what shall I say? We do love, love, love this position!
You have recently launched the Grow with Us campaign. Can you explain its purpose and why it is important to you?
In early 2022, we launched the innovative concept and campaign Grow with Us, that will protect the environment and strengthen local cohesion. Every purchase of an Andy Wolf frame will recultivate and preserve one square meter of wildflower meadow in Austria. We are well prepared for this: The first 10 hectares of wildflowers are already blooming in full splendor outside the windows of the headquarters, and the area is constantly being expanded. The meadows are a habitat for many native insects, birds and other animals—it is not unusual to see a pheasant or a deer looking curiously through the windows directly over the design team’s shoulder. The company’s own bee colonies also live among the wildflowers. They are just as busy as the entire Andy Wolf family, and their honey is a popular treat for the team and Andy Wolf customers. Our flower meadow is a matter close to my heart, and I am very pleased that the whole company lends a hand and makes it blossom.
What other steps is Andy Wolf taking toward making more sustainable brand decisions in 2022?
As a further step toward sustainability, Andy Wolf will be the first independent eyewear brand from the German-speaking Europe to switch its acetate collection to the new, most sustainable acetate in the industry: Acetate Renew. For this purpose, we have received ISCC Plus certification and qualified for the Acetate Renew program of the Italian acetate producer Mazzucchelli and Eastman. Starting in 2022, Andy Wolf acetate frames will be successively converted to the new Acetate Renew. We plan to produce 23 percent of our entire acetate collection from sustainable material by the end of 2022, and 75 percent of all acetate frames will be made from Acetate Renew by the end of 2025.
But that’s not all, for our 15th anniversary, we have fulfilled another heart’s desire—to design a collection that combines the past and the future: AWearness. The name AWearness carries Andy Wolf and stands for “wear” and “awareness”—the conscious interaction with people and nature. Inspired by the very first Andy Wolf frames, a collection of five timeless styles has been created, each available in 10 colors. Every single detail of the glasses, from design to packaging, has been thought through carefully to make the collection as sustainable as possible. The glasses are made of high-quality bio-acetate, which is naturally aged for many weeks before processing. Permanent connections are deliberately avoided so that each part can be replaced individually, and the glasses can be disassembled into single variety materials. This ensures easy repair and later recycling. Cases and packaging are made of sustainable materials, all components are sourced locally. Even the sales concept was designed specifically for this collection. We successfully started the sale of this collection, which will enter the market very soon.
What do you believe sets your brand apart from its competitors?
We have many things that make us unique. Every pair of Andy Wolf glasses, whether sunglasses or optical frames, is handmade in the company’s two manufactories in Hartberg, Austria and in Jura, France. Quality and finish are key, we are leaders in service and support. The people behind Andy Wolf (and I mean all of them!) are passionate about the brand. We love glasses, we love emotion, we love to get personal without taking ourselves too seriously. You can see and feel that in every pair of glasses and every action, every day. Our frames give personality, and everyone who buys or wears an Andy Wolf becomes part of our big Andy Wolf family.
Just to mention, as this is especially important to me as CEO: Andy Wolf Eyewear has been special since day one—personal, bold, honest. That’s exactly how the people behind it are. It takes a great team to do what we do. It takes burning hearts to design and create. It takes skilled hands to make the collection, to check it, to pack it, to ship it. It takes all these special people to do what we do. I am grateful and proud to know these people are behind Andy Wolf Eyewear every day.
What trends do you see making big waves in eyewear this year?
The big trend in eyewear is definitely toward more sustainability. From a fashion point of view, we are entering the early 2000s with slim, wide frames. We introduced already two slim styles in the current collection and are working further on our interpretation of this very distinct influence. We love contrasts and statements, bold acetate frames are still rising. When it comes to colors, we are fully in love with pastels that are fresh and courageous. Also, we see a return of curves again—like our big-base-curve mini collection for fashion label KNWLS. We have many more surprising and trendy styles to come this year, stay tuned!
Are there any exciting projects or new collections in the works that Andy Wolf fans can be on the lookout for?
We are always working on special projects and collections, more and more often in collaboration with partners such as opticians, creatives and sometimes completely out-of-the-box-companies who share the same values as us. By doing this, we keep up our creativity, we always start fresh with a white sheet of paper. The next exciting collaboration will be released in early summer. I can reveal this much—we explored yet again a new territory of material and handmade products, something toward flowers with a natural touch. We are looking forward to coming out with it! ■
Photos of Andy Pirkheim and Wolfgang Scheucher: Felix Werinos