Yun's Berlin store

In Berlin’s growing eyewear landscape, where there’s a hip optical store on every corner, Yun is one to watch. And that’s not just due to its minimalist shop design, which features a futuristic open production system complete with a silvery spiral conveyer-belt. Or the fashion-forward frames with high-quality lightweight lenses priced from 99 to 149 euros, or $105 to $158 at current exchange.

The company was founded in October 2015, and just marked its first year in business. And though its subtly Space Age shop fits in firmly in a Berlin shopping district home to cool European brands APC, Camper and Adidas, Yun is the only retail arm of a company that hails from Seoul.

“Our first priority is to make Yun a global brand,” the firm’s designer Jiyoon Yun told WWD.

“Our spirit came from Seoul so it doesn’t really need to be in Seoul from the start. For our long-term vision to be a global brand, being located in an international city like Berlin for the first flagship  was more meaningful to us to have more chance to meet many people from all over the world — not only our customers but also people who can work with and cooperate with us.”

The brand is a family affair, founded by CJ Yun, who has been in the eyewear business in South Korea for 25 years, starting with frames and moving on to develop an expertise in lens manufacturing — he also serves as director of Dio Lens, which has customers in the Asia-Pacific region, North American and Europe. By CJ’s side, his daughter Jiyoon, who serves as designer, and oversees brand identity, going back and forth between Seoul and Berlin. She plans to settle in the German capital; her sister Jihye, who takes care of administration, personnel and finance for Yun eyewear, has lived in Berlin for several years.

Yun has a clear connection to fashion. CJ Yun’s frame manufacturing business produced for notables from Gucci to Kenzo. And Jiyoon Yun previously worked as a designer for Handsome, a leading fashion brand in South Korea and subsidiary company of the Hyundai department store group that has several its own lines, imports high-end brands including Céline, Balenciaga and Chloé into the country, and also produces and designs garments for Lanvin in South Korea.

Still, the focus for the firm is to merge quality and affordability — while not forgetting style. Its lightweight frames are made from acetate, ULTEM resin, titanium — 40 different models with various color choices. Lenses have scratch resistant, water-repellent, and non-reflective coating. Frames and lenses are produced in South Korea; lenses are cut in Berlin according to customer need. Glasses are finished in 20 minutes. Items ordered online will be delivered within a day; customers in Berlin will receive them within two hours. The vertically integrated supply chain boosts speed and cuts costs, says Yun.

Though based in Germany, the company stays true to its South Korean identity; it uses only Asian models in look books and campaigns, and favors a simple visual identity with a reduced color palette, embracing “the beauty of space” from a place of sincerity.

So far, the brand’s message has found its place in a city with a glut of glasses — from innovative locals Mykita; ic! Berlin; Kuboraum, and Lunettes Kollektion, to stylish out-of-towners like Ace & Tate and Viu.

Jiyoon Yun points out that a large proportion of Yun’s customers are international, visiting Berlin on business or tourism. They in turn have brought exposure to Yun by bringing the brand home with them.

Yun’s owners hope this eyewear diplomacy will help prepare for further market entry, and say they will open two more shops in 2017, and have the goal of accomplishing a 300 percent rate of growth based on turnover, Jiyoon Yun explained.

“We’ve been asked to open more shops in other cities around the world. According to our expansion plan, we plan to open company-operated stores and franchise stores step by step from 2017. North Europe and Hong Kong are the first being examined now,” she said.

So far, the brand has concentrated on in-store service rather than online expansion. E-tailing optical products results in fit challenges, and makes it harder to fine-tune prescriptions. Yun opticians have found themselves advising on glasses adjustments via e-mail, a less than ideal outcome. But Yun has a plans to address these issues their own way.

“For new customers, we’re developing better solutions to satisfy them, like 3-D virtual try-on service, real-time phone support, selling progressive lenses only for return customers, and so on,”  Jiyoon Yun said.

“We’ll definitely expand Yun in other countries, including [South] Korea, our home ground, but we want to make it step by step for the best customer satisfaction. We’ll enter the new market always with the physical presence for quality optical service.”