Dutz Designer Scores Big in Competitive Market

By Paddy Kamen

Armand van Lingen was busy playing sports as a young man. Now he is the head designer for Netherland’s-based eyewear company Dutz.

Are football and tennis a good training ground for eyewear designers? Maybe so: they are both competitive sports and the design world is nothing if not competitive. Armand van Lingen thrives on competition and, as a result, Dutz Eyewear is flourishing.

Van Lingen, now 40, graduated from design school in 1997. His first job was with the eyewear companyEurovisie BV, where he worked on the brand You’S. “Thanks to that job, I got to see how to move from concept to actualizing a frame and then a collection,” he explains.

Not one to stand on the sidelines when there is a victory to be won, van Lingen began talking about starting an eyewear company with his good friend Roland Vandermeulen. “I love a challenge,” he says. “So Roland and I decided to strike out on our own with Dutz in 2005.”

Billing Dutz as ‘Holland’s cheekiest brand of glasses’, van Lingen and Vandermeulen (who handles the company’s finances) have worked very hard for the past six years, building the company to the point where their product is sold in 20 countries. “It has been intense,” allows van Lingen. “And though our frames are not yet global, it’s a pretty good start. Our vision is based on a continuous search for unique colour combinations and high quality in the mid-price segment, combined with nice details and a twist of humor. At the same time we put a premium on curiosity, enthusiasm and respect, along with trust for both customers and employees.”

Making things easy for the optical professional is a priority when van Lingen creates his frame designs. And this approach is supported by attention to the administrative side of the business as well. “We do everything we can to make life as easy as possible for the optician and distributor, from super quick delivery to a great warranty,” says van Lingen. “And every optician who deals with Dutz will have the benefit of our wide-ranging collections that change rapidly.”

Alain Lachambre of Audace Lunettes inMontrealhas represented Dutz inCanadasince 2009. “I love that Dutz is a very dynamic company, producing new frame designs all the time,” he says. “The styles are right on trend so our clients can take advantage of market demand.”

The collection targets women with small faces and men who need large frames. Metals with matte finish in retro/vintage styles are complemented by rich-looking textured acetates (12 frames in four colours were recently introduced). Colours may be electric (think pink, grey, orange, red) or more subtle, but always beautiful. Dutz is known for outstanding colour and the metal frames often have a lighter colour inside (electric green, light blue, white), which serves to ‘lift’ and brighten the face. “People love the colour and the richness in the pattern,” notes Lachambre.

Van Lingen finds his life is so full now that he barely has time to play tennis. Married with two growing sons, he has also settled down. Focus is priority number one. “A thriving company like ours requires my maximum attention. When I’ve finished one collection I have to start thinking about the next right away. Having said that, I recognize that I am a lucky man to be able to design and sell my own work. It makes a complete circle and I enjoy it.”

There’s little doubt that van Lingen has scored a touchdown with Dutz.