Whether you call them sunglasses, sunnies, shades, or just glasses, that final accessory that you slide on as you head outside should be more than an afterthought. Some would say much more. For those with discerning taste, Christopher Cloos sunglasses are the perfect accompaniment to a well-appointed outfit, and like the man himself, promote a sense of mystery to all who see the wearer.
It Started With Drinks
In 2017, two friends were enjoying some down time at the Paloma Beach Club in the South of France, when their attention shifted to a well-turned man whose presence filled the room. Intrigued, the duo approached the man behind a classic pair of sunglasses to learn his story. And learn it they did, striking up a conversation that lasted well into several rounds of drinks and ended with the birth of a new company named for this man from Monaco, Christopher Cloos.
While Cloos himself merely lent his name to the enterprise, his style and persona helped shape the brand into the global success it is today.
The idea to manufacture and sell high-quality sunglasses had already been in the works for the founders, but according to Julius August Langkilde Høedt, CEO and co-founder, the chance meeting was just the catalyst needed to get the company off the ground. “We originally had the glasses in just one store north of Copenhagen and had 100 followers, but the frames really started to sell. I came aboard wanting to see what happened if we scaled it up,” Julius says. He started traveling around Europe selling to retailers and in the first 90 days on the road, he landed about 20 accounts across France, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
Soon after, Julius was moving to the United States for graduate school and vowed to take the company with him. He began with online sales and then started traveling from state to state and door to door, visiting 45 states and more than 10,000 optical stores. “In the early days, it was about getting the product out there and creating the brand. Along the way we came up with the goal to dress a million faces across the planet,” he says.
Tom Brady Helps Save the Planet
Five years later he says they are not only moving closer and closer to that goal, but they’ve also added the mission to leave the planet the same way they entered it by making a truly sustainable product. That new angle to the company comes largely through the wishes of the new brand ambassador, record-breaking football quarterback, Tom Brady.
A long-time fan of Brady, Julius cold called Brady’s agent to discuss partnership opportunities and said he received a call back the next day. Flash forward six months, and Julius found himself in Brady’s home in New York to hash out contract details. The arrival of the pandemic slowed things down, but the Cloos X Brady line was launched in September 2020 and carried the added excitement of being the company’s first fully biodegradable line of frames. The desire for a sustainable product came from Brady, who is an environmental advocate and pushed for Christopher Cloos to move in a new direction.
Today, Christopher Cloos’s main contract is with the Italian company Mazzucchelli, which manufactures the glasses using bio acetate. The company is known for its craftsmanship. They assemble the final parts of the frames and undertake the quality assurance of each pair by hand, assuring nothing leaves the floor if it isn’t perfect.
As the popularity of biodegradable frames grew with the Tom Brady line, Christopher Cloos made the decision to make all of its frames biodegradable. That was followed by the creation of a partnership with the Danish environmental organization, Plastic Change, to assure all shipments are 100% carbon emission compensated. “We calculate all carbon emissions released during our shipment and then compensate them by supporting recognized and certified carbon offset projects,” Julius explains.
Additionally, Christopher Cloos customers are encouraged to return their old frames so the materials can be recycled, and, in return, they received a discount on new purchases. The company releases a monthly sustainability report so it can better understand its footprint and use the data as a benchmark for instituting further sustainable choices and processes.
“Being carbon neutral makes a lot of sense for us. If you can make a sustainable company and reach for zero carbon emissions, that’s what we’re here to do, to leave the planet as we found it.”
Having a sustainable product helps Christopher Cloos stand out in a somewhat crowded field of eyewear, but buyers are sold by the competitive pricing and Scandinavian-inspired minimalist style. “If someone is looking for a more branded item with a visible logo, that’s just not us. We prefer subtle elegance,” Julius says.
While Tom Brady has been a highly successful ambassador with his line regularly sitting atop the best seller list, Julius says it’s time to also showcase the brand as a choice for the best-dressed ladies. Leading the story on that front is the new Christopher Cloos brand ambassador, former Victoria’s Secret model and world-renowned fashion icon Elsa Hosk. Similar to the men’s line, the women’s frames will capture a classic style, whether more vintage tortoiseshell or a modern square shape and of course, embrace sustainable design.
Both men and women who sport a pair of Christopher Cloos sunglasses can walk confidently knowing all passersby will wonder whose eyes are behind those shades.