When a former professional paintballer designs an eyewear collection with materials used for space helmets, there’s no doubt the end product will be distinctive, high performing and thoughtfully crafted. Such is the story behind new eyewear company Ovan— and we’re already obsessed with the clean, contemporary sunnies.
Ovan Eyewear was born out of Mikko Huttunen’s personal desire to create a line of eyewear that athletic, aesthetically minded people would want to wear. Luckily for Huttunen, many of his closest friends happen to fit into that exact demographic.
In fact, it was on a “random surf trip,” that Huttunen began brainstorming with his roommate Roy on their idea of the perfect pair of sunglasses. The pair then enlisted the help of super male model Alex Lundqvist, a friend with impeccable taste and a strong working knowledge of the fashion industry. As Huttunen put it, “the guy has more sunglasses than anyone else I’ve ever seen.” This combination of sport and style is the foundation of the brand.
After six more months of planning, the three friends brought on four more partners like professional snowboarder Bjorn Leines and a “handful of hardcore industry veterans,” each person with their own distinct role within the company.
Huttunen’s role is lead designer, though he is hesitant to label himself as such, saying“to call yourself a designer is a pretty bold claim…and have only just recently considered myself one.” That modesty belies quite an extensive background in eyewear design and production. While still an active athlete, Huttunen began working with his sponsor, participating in “marketing jobs to photos, videos, trade shows and displays.”
“From there I quickly found myself traveling in Asia as part of an extremely talented team, creating full lines of product from clothing to sporting goods.” He counts this experience as invaluable training for what it truly means to be a designer. He says, “They showed me what goes into making something from concept to product and that’s what being a designer means to me.”
And while Huttunen “comes up with the concept and draws the lines and curves of each design,” the design process is a group effort. They’ll first discuss color, style and inspiration points “that can come from anywhere; from nature, cars, music, movies, art,” before Huttunen begins designing. Once they’re happy with the 2D designs, they’ll get 3D mock ups made to fine tune the fit and function before they finally sample the product, working with the factory to get the lenses and materials into production. “I’m pretty sure I drive them crazy on the detail we require,” Huttunen says with a laugh.
Speaking of lenses and materials, Huttunen says “we did a crazy amount of research with trips to vendors and factories to find the materials we wanted.” In the end, he and the team are “super proud” of their lenses, as they’re of a quality you would be hard-pressed to find in eyewear at the Ovan price point. With Huttunen hailing from Finland and many others on the team of Scandinavian descent, that minimal, clean nature-forward aesthetic heavily informs their design process for Ovan eyewear.
Additionally, with so many outdoorsmen on the Ovan team – they surf, snowboard, skate, fish, hike, golf and sail on the regular – they knew they needed a product that performed well and was gentle on the environment. Because of this, they found an eco-friendly, durable materials for their sunglasses and make their goggles from recyclable plastic.
The team was also collectively adamant against any heaving branding. Instead, they opted for a subtle signature trim detail where “the O leads to a V in a stylish way. You can’t read it but if you know what it is, you know they’re Ovan frames.”
For next season, the Ovan team is “working on a couple cool new designs and fresh new colors.” They also have a new snow goggle coming out that blends a retro look with high tech performance and full customization options.
Their new snow goggle, Ptarmigan, is revolutionary with a blend of a retro look and high tech performance with full customization options. They count themselves fortunate that they have resources that allow them to sample and test new products fully before releasing them. This also allows them the freedom to “explore new technical materials” for Ovan eyewear to hone that style and performance balance.