In 2016 ic! berlin celebrates 20 years of screwless eyewear, 20 years of handmade in Berlin and 20 years of doing the impossible – and rocking it.
Picture it: Berlin, 1996. The wall is down and punks have taken over a city under construction. Centuries old churches stand next to asbestos palaces and entire apartment buildings, abandoned by their owners seeking greener western pastures, are either empty or have been taken over by squatters.
In a two room apartment just a few blocks from Alexanderplatz three uni students were about to change the world... of eyewear. They had on their hands/noses something truly unique, something truly revolutionary, something so unheard of that it got them laughed out of nearly every optician in town: a pair of sunglasses with a screwless hinge, cut (by hand) from a single sheet of aluminium, called ‘Jack’.
It took a lot of time, perseverance and some guerrilla tactics to get ic! berlin off the ground. To raise funds the boys threw a “subscription party” to sell the first run of ic! glasses, albeit with a six month wait. Later, Ralph would crash eyewear trade shows and sell frames out of his trench coat like counterfeit watches, but the more rules ic! berlin broke, the more success they found. Today, ic! berlin is sold in over 60 countries and puts food on the table for over 200 people worldwide.
A lot has happened in the 20 years since that first frame. New materials have been introduced (aluminium quickly gave way to stainless steel), people have come and gone, awards have been won (and won, and won), but the core – the screwless hinge – is the same as it was back when everyone was dancing the Macarena.