By Yasmine Shemesh
Belgian watch and sunglass brand Komono has a knack for blurring the lines of time and place. Like its name suggests (Komono means “small things” in Japanese), the brand approaches accessories on a smaller scale, allowing its founders to focus on fusing classic and contemporary styles with an internationally-influenced aesthetic.
Raf Maes and Anton Janssens, the big minds behind the small wonders, were both professional snowboarders who met on an airplane 15 years ago and bonded over a shared fascination for travel, photography, art, and literature. The pair launched Komono in 2009. Not having roots, initially, in fashion has proved to be one of the keys to success for Maes and Janssens. The duo was first faced with manufacturers who didn’t quite share their vision. “We had to push them,” Janssens says. “They didn’t understand what we wanted, but it felt right to us.”
What felt right, evidently, was an appreciation for quality goods of a bygone era. “We like to re-invent classics,” Maes explains. “Like a minimalistic face with a woven strap or a print fabric strap to give the watch a bit more pop.” The idea for the Winston Blue Cognac watch, for example, was drawn from the silver-blue metallic of a 1970s Porsche. The brand’s sunglasses are also reminiscent of the notorious styles of popular culture characters like Woody Allen and Steve Urkel—thick framed and wonderfully geeky, respectively. Unisex silhouettes in colour palettes such as Matte Tortoise and Cola Honey blend male and female, simple and bold.
Maes and Janssens’s design process is free and spontaneous, just as globetrotters tend to be. With the brand now being sold in 45 countries, Komono’s journey is well underway. “Our ears and eyes are wide open,” Maes says. “We listen every day, we learn every day from people, from what we see.” When it comes to inspiration for Komono, the stream of ideas is limitless, with no final destination in sight.
Published online at www.montecristomagazine.com, February 2014