Aphex’s range of customisable goggles and sunglasses have seen significant growth since launching, even during recent turbulent times. We caught up with brand manager Tom Howells to discuss their growth, distribution and the role sustainability plays within the brand.
What was the thinking behind the creation of Aphex?
2010, in the heart of the snow topped mountains of the French Hautes-Alpes, between a larch and a backcountry kicker, a simple idea was born from a combined love of innovation, design and quality. Creating high-performance, durable, and customisable ski goggles to suit everyone’s style: APHEX was born.
From the early days of it being a one-man-band, to now, where our team is still agile, but specialised – the growth of APHEX has been super rewarding to see. Compared to some of the real ‘big guys’ in the industry, we’re still a minnow – but we’re winning hearts and minds, with great product, and a passion for the sports that we make these products for.
Throughout all these years, APHEX has maintained its commitment to bringing customisable, innovative products with top notch features to its customers. More recently, we’ve been focussing on developing our commitment to reduce the environmental impact of everything that we do. This is more than greenwashing; this idea comes from living and working in the mountains and feeling the environmental change that is coming from our impact on the planet. We’re not perfect, but we are striving for better!
Who are the management behind the brand?
Recently APHEX has undergone some restructuring to allow our awesome team to focus more keenly on the aspects of the business that they’re specialised in, and the results so far have been great!
The APHEX brain trust consists of: Bert de Boer. General and financial manager, based in our logistics centre near Rotterdam.
Susan van der Plas. who takes care of all our office management and customer service, also in our Rotterdam office.
Maarten van der Laan, Founder, and our International Sales Manager – most often found on the road!
Tom Howells – Brand, Product and Design Manager – based in our design centre in the French Alps.
How is the brand distributed across Europe?
Things are super slick from the logistics centre in Holland, with excellent coverage in the most important markets throughout Europe. We’re looking at developing now the Eastern countries – as well as improving our visibility in the German speaking markets. These have been challenging years for the snow sports industries in particular, with poor snow in Europe, and Covid – but the rebound for us has been astonishing! We’re going from strength to strength now, and our specific offering allows us to help out retailers that have struggled with some brands – with stock and poor sell through because of all the issues.
How do you see the boardsports Optics market developing over the next few years?
For sure people are looking for cross seasonality – particularly in the sunglasses segment. Environmental awareness is also a big deal, and we’ve got this 100% in mind. Currently our frames are all made from biobased plastics, and we’re happy to say that because of the modular and customisable nature of our products, that getting replacement parts is easy if any issues do arise.
How important is sustainability in the optics market, and how are you making your products more environmentally friendly?
It’s a huge deal, as outlined above – however, it extends way beyond just our products. We’re committed to improving our overall impact on the environment by reducing our footprint for travel, packaging and other wasteful practices that leave our planet depleted. We’re 100% dependent on our winters to practice the sports we love, and we know we’re part of an industry that needs to change. We want to lead by example.
How is this year’s goggle line different from last years?
We’re constantly tweaking our products, particularly by introducing more sustainable materials – but this year too, we’ve got a brand-new Toric Lens model in development. We’re super excited about this, as it’s starting to come together really well now, with our own unique APHEX twist! Also because of our customisable approach, there’s always killer colourways and patterns for people to upgrade their existing products, or match their new helmet, or jacket for the new season!
How will you be marketing the brand across Europe?
We’re continuing our ambassadors programme, which is really bearing fruit now. Also, our social media game is strong – and has shown a big uptick recently. Beyond this we’re always open to new opportunities, and the game is constantly changing, so we’re keeping our finger on the pulse!