Jemand hält eine Sportbrille von Gloryfy in die Kamera.

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Sports glasses from Gloryfy: always worth seeing

Portraitbild Michael Neumann, Autor
Michael
Editor, 4-Seasons
© Fotos

The prize for virtually indestructible sports eyewear goes to Gloryfy in the Zillertal valley in Tyrol, where the company’s highly driven team put their heart and soul into making the seemingly impossible possible.

We’re due to drop in on Gloryfy in Schlitters, at the entrance to the Zillertal valley. Sandwiched between the Souvenir Linda outlet, the Zillertal Trachtenwelt traditional costume dealer and the mountain cheese dairy, you might expect a number of things. An agricultural machinery dealership, perhaps? That’s precisely what used to be in the building in the centre of the village, but it’s now adorned with a different brand logo: Gloryfy. Following several years of growth and constant shuttling between three different locations in the largest Tyrolean side valley off the Inn, the company finally arrived in Schlitters. From outside, there’s no sign of any bling-bling to indicate the high tech goods waiting inside over several floors. But the reception area and communal rooms, where Max Egger, son of the company’s founder, welcomes me, immediately put you at ease. You feel more as if you’re in a Berlin loft than in an industrial facility where milking machines were once sold. Behind glass office walls, young staff are buzzing around busily, but it’s by no means hectic. Right away you realise that this is home to a young start-up whose 42 employees are all passionate about their mission and their products.

The story of the David of the eyewear world, competing against corporate goliaths such as Oakley, Smith and Uvex, began in 2004. After completing his apprenticeship, his school-leaving certificate at an evening school and his business degree, Christoph Egger from Zillertal was experimenting with eyewear frames that he hoped would be ‘unbreakable’. Too often he had sat on sunglasses he’d left in his trouser pockets while driving or got annoyed when they fell off his nose during sport and then broke. The catalyst, however, was a sports accident involving a friend who injured his eye when his glasses splintered. While most manufacturers use inexpensive but brittle plastic that is injected into a mould, Egger saw the opportunity in having a flexible plastic produced through casting. It took several years, however, and hundreds of prototypes – plus immense hard work – before the first Gloryfy glasses were finally ready for series production in 2011.

Eyewear by Gloryfy

Egger calls its special plastic NBFX but doesn’t disclose its composition. The chemical composition cannot be guessed from the letters in the name either, since NBFX stands for ‘Non-Breaking Flex Polymer’. What’s more, everything is meticulously patented, says Egger’s son Max, who takes me on a tour of the company. He himself also comes across as pretty indestructible, as proclaimed by the company claim tattooed on his forearm.

The exceptionally light, unbreakable and thus airbag-safe plastic, which always returns to its original form even after being severely deformed, also features in the lenses. Gloryfy also scores points here with a very good ‘Abbe rating’ of 45. The Abbe number defines the properties of optical lenses and was named after the physicist Ernst Abbe. Roughly speaking, the higher the number, the better the vision. To be more precise, the number indicates the dispersion properties of a lens material. Dispersion refers to the disruptive colour streaking that occurs when light hits glass. The light is refracted and broken down into its spectral colours, resulting in a varying degree of distracting colour dispersion.

In addition, the patented Inclinox technology lets you adjust the temples yourself at any time, thus adapting the fit to your personal needs: a firm fit when you’re active, a loose fit when you want to relax.

Max Egger und Christoph Egger (v. l.) im Gespräch.

Christoph Egger (right) set up Gloryfy; his son Max (left) is also Co-CEO of the firm.

Photo © Sabine Schneider

After Max gives me some background information on the company’s history in the showroom, we head into the holy sanctum of production. The area is restricted – no photos allowed. Apart from the painting work, which is done in Italy, each pair of Gloryfy glasses is manufactured from start to finish in Zillertal. To ensure that this remains the case for the long term, the company likes to shield this expertise from prying eyes. At the heart of production are huge CNC milling machines that manufacture well over 100 different models from two different basic moulds in a matter of minutes. Afterwards, the finishing touches are applied – in the truest sense of the word – and assembly, quality control, packaging and dispatch follow. And if a buyer is not happy with a pair of glasses and calls the service hotline, the phone also rings here in Schlitters.

This ‘Made in Austria’ campaign is currently seeing the company rack up sales record after sales record. The scores of job adverts on the region’s billboards also testify to this. Employees are wanted for CAD programming (computer-aided design) and production. Another factor in favour of the Austrian location is its position in the heart of the Tyrolean mountains. Some of the Gloryfy athlete team, including sport climbing world champion Jakob Schubert, trail runner Markus Kröll and mountaineering legend Peter Habeler, live in the immediate vicinity, allowing product tests to be conducted quickly and results implemented right away.

Christoph Egger sums it all up: ‘We want to give people the maximum sense of wellbeing. An item that they wear so close to their eyes shouldn’t be some short-lived, disposable product. It has to be something that you can count on for a lifetime.’

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