Minamoto, the birth of an
1. How was the Minamoto collection born?
Hajime Hori: CHARMANT Group originates from Japan. Our company was born in Sabae, Fukui Province and has grown over the decades. Today, we are present in more than 100 countries and have no less than 5 design offices around the world. One of them is located here in Europe, a continent with which Japan has a special relationship. We wanted to develop a collection that would connect Europe and Japan, bridging the two cultures that would allow us to pass on our history, of a company that pioneered the creation and development of titanium frames around the world. With Minamoto, we are revealing a deeper, hidden story that gives meaning to the land of the rising sun and to CHARMANT.
2. Your brand portfolio is quite complete and meets many needs, but Minamoto is a different collection, why?
Hajime Hori: With Minamoto, the vision and the use of the frame are unique. Of course, the design, aesthetics and function of the object are important parts of the creation process, but our top priority was not only on these characteristics. Sustainability also guided us throughout this project. We wanted our customers to have a product that would last a lifetime, like a true piece of art. Thanks to our know-how in the optical industry and our expertise in titanium, we were able to meet this major challenge.
3. How did you develop the collection?
Hajime Hori: Here again, Minamoto does nothing like others. Usually, when we develop a collection, we first look at the design of our frames, the design elements and iconic parts, and then, work on the brand universe. Eyewear is the essence of the collections.
With Minamoto, we took a different path. We didn‘t make a single design sketch until we had created our brand universe. Minamoto reflects not only the history of eyewear, but also the history of Japan and our company. We wanted to tell a strong story, to convey a message and values that were important to us. Once we had established our brand universe, we began to think about the design of the frames.
4. What particular message did you want to convey with Minamoto?
Hajime Hori: Before we develop a collection, we always ask ourselves, „What value or experience can we offer the wearers of our frames?“ For Minamoto, we wanted to convey ai-chaku (愛着) to them. It is that affection we have for things we have used for a long time. It is a very powerful feeling, a kind of friendship and trust.
5. You thought of Minamoto as a bridge between Europe and Japan and wanted to tell YOUR story. What was your inspiration for this?
Hajime Hori: CHARMANT was born in Sabae. This city in Fukui Prefecture is the cradle of Japanese eyewear, but also has a traditional factory in many fields: forged blades, washi paper or lacquered objects. It is a unique know-how that is gathered in Sabae and its surroundings. Each product is different, but all are the result of exceptional craftsmanship with the desire that the product created be carefully used for a long time. We wanted our Minamoto frames to be one of those exceptional objects.
6. What makes Minamoto frames so special?
Hajime Hori: Once the brand story was established, the design of the frames was not that difficult. We knew what we wanted to convey, what was so dear to us, so designing the models was logical, almost innate. In keeping with our values, traditions and expertise, Minamoto frames are made from 99.4% pure Japanese titanium. This is the best you can find on the market. For this collection, we were not afraid to offer titanium end pieces and nose pads, because we never lost sight of our ultimate goal: to offer a unique product with a strong story that you can keep for a long time. Minamoto frames are special and I would be extremely happy if you could see that.
7. What do you expect from Minamoto?
Hajime Hori: My dearest wish would be to see you walk into your optician, take one of our models in your hand and love it. I want you to spend your days with our frames on your nose for a long time. I dream that MINAMOTO will become an indispensable part of our customers‘ daily lives.
8. You are a product manager, what does your job involve?
Hajime Hori: Obviously I have to maintain the collection, develop it and make it live. To be totally honest with you, creating a collection is not as hard as you might think, but keeping it going is a real challenge. I have to make sure that with each new collection, each new product we bring to you, the experience and the values that you will receive are always there, constantly adapting to the needs and desires of the consumers. This is my biggest challenge as a product manager.