With a theme that encourages “Doubt everything…find your own light,” VonZipper’s latest collection, Freethinkers Conspiracy Guild (FCG), grabbed our attention from the get-go with its nod to a collective society for the creative elite, and “those who question and challenge national myths, strive to be above the chains of mediocrity, and seek the greater forms of life’s indulgences.” In an industry that has been built upon those ideals, VonZipper and many other companies have been conceived by rejecting the status quo and rising above “the trappings of common acceptance,” which was a major part of the brand’s thought process when creating the new collection.
“The actual frames found within Freethinkers Conspiracy Guild have been in development for a better part of a year, but the look, feel and the fraternal nature of the grouping is a reflection of our company’s interest in classic Americana and all things ‘Old Timey,’ says VonZipper’s Greg “GT” Tomlinson. “The FCG encompasses the D.I.Y. Spirit with which we founded the brand and selfishly allows us to bring out styles that we are into without the constraints of commercial concern.”
The collection is set to hit retail throughout the month of May and is available at VonZipper.com. We caught up with GT to hear more.
What’s the basic premise behind the society?
When we were conceiving the grouping of frames, we thought it’d be fun to create a league that speaks to the ideals of the styles rather than just pull together another collection of eyewear. We thought it’d be kinda cheeky to give it a deeper purpose with a little bit of subversion, if you will…
The inspiration and story behind the design seems like it really speaks to a diverse, yet exclusive audience. Can you elaborate on how VZ came up with this and what audience it’s geared toward?
We definitely think the styles found within the FCG speak to a narrower audience than the frames we have brought out in our broader VonZipper collection, that was the purpose of the FCG.. The folks that feel an affiliation with these looks share the same sensibilities that embody forward thinking with backward compatibility that we do, we want to speak to the top of the pyramid type of individual through these frames.
From a marketing standpoint, how do you tell the Free Thinkers story?
We are going to get on our soap box from street corner to street corner and pony up bar to bar, lodge to lodge, initiating members and pulling in prospects! Well, that and seeding the goods with our friends and family, creating one of a kind display fixtures and in-store P.O.P. items, unique imagery and short films, all the while pushing it with a fair bit of advertising and PR..
Where can we find this collection? In what retail doors? Will it be online?
We’ve targeted a select group of retailers for the collection that includes not only some of our current partners, but also some non traditional avenues of retail as well… Yes there will be product available on line for the people with technology at their finger tips..
How about the in-store displays – can you elaborate on what you are using to build these, and how the concept was created? We are as proud of the display cases that house the collection as we are the frames themselves. Each case is custom made from used suitcases that we’ve been collecting for some time.. It’s a good thing I like to go to flea markets and garage sales! We felt the frames found within the FCG required a different showcase than the contemporary display methods we offer, and they speak to to the whole freewheeling nature of the ideals found within the Guild.
How do you look at the Freethinkers Conspiracy Guild as strengthening the brand? What about strengthening the relationship with your retail partners?
To be honest I’m not entirely sure, except that it allows us to explore a look and feel of eyewear that we feel has a place in the market and hasn’t really been exposed. As a company, VonZipper has always tried to take a unique approach to our business which is really the underlying theme of the FCG. I guess I do hope that this “strengthens” our brand, as all of us who work at VZ need to eat and pay rent and stuff! Even more so, I hope that we can bring value to our retail partners because if they don’t eat we don’t either[laughs]. So far we’ve been pretty good at eating Top Ramen.. Maybe next week it’ll be macaroni and cheese. Look out when we get to peanut butter and jelly, then you’ll know we’re really on a roll.
What has been the reaction from the retailers who have seen the product?
We’ve been showing it since before the holidays last year and the response has been outstanding. Everyone has been into the look and feel of it, but I must admit some people don’t understand the frames. That’s ok, maybe they’ll get jumped in next time we blow through town. The good news is, the folks that we want to receive the FCG, have. It’s kinda like throwing a kegger and all the right people show up and the fuzz rolls by and busts the jock party down the street.
What sets the product apart from the rest of VZ’s collections as far as materials, aesthetic, etc.? Is it just sunnies, or does it include apparel and other cool stuff?
Similar to all of the eyewear we offer at VonZipper we use only the finest materials available. The frames are made of nylon grilamid, acetate, and metal alloy In the case of the “Mayfield,” a combination of the aforementioned materials, and the Libertine features leather temple tips. Of course they are 100% UV effective and carry a lifetime warranty. The frames also come with an optical quality hard-case to protect the sunnies as well as an FCG pledge pin to proudly show your open-mindedness and affiliation with the cause. Aesthetically, the frames are inspired by an earlier generation of eyewear design. The frames are a fair bit smaller overall and have less base curve than our more contemporary offerings. They have unique frame and lens color-ways and a hand that someone who discerns quality will appreciate.
What about pricepoints?
We feel the collection is a great value at $115.00 – $125.00
What keywords would you use to describe FTS?
Spontaneous, Rebellious, Moonshine, Mindful, Independent, Hot Rod, Enlightened, Timeless, Alternative, Coltrane, Hedonism, Ton Up, Freewheeling, Society, Nonconformist, Bohemian, Howling Wolf, Mindful, Swing, Liberated, Classic, Subterranean, Vintage and Old Timey.
Now that VZ has its own secret society, how close do you think you are from taking over the world?
[Laughs] If having more fun than everyone else is taking over the world, we are well on our way.
How do you see the Free Thinkers collection evolving in the near future?
Who knows? The future is unwritten and the road has many curves, but the beauty of the FCG is that it allows us a creative platform to bring unique items to the market, and we are certainly not short of ideas.