“A pair of glasses that isn't a pair of glasses"
An interview with Douglas CEO Tina Müller about her relationship with her Silhouette eyewear, about being a career person who wears glasses, and about women’s talents.
Can you remember the first time you came across Silhouette eyewear?
Yes, it was in Düsseldorf’s finest optician’s shop in Königsallee about 15 years ago. That pair of glasses was a perfect match for me. The best thing about them was, and still is, that they manage to be a pair of glasses that isn’t a pair of glasses. In other words they make a statement that is both refined and neutral. I can allow my face to carry on interacting with those around me. It has always been a matter of importance to me that my eyes are not hidden away behind eyewear.
And why did you go specifically for Silhouette? It’s not as if it is the only brand of rimless eyewear.
The others are less subtle and delicate. What’s more, there is the service that allows you to create your own pair (Editor’s note: Silhouette offers a wide range of customizable eyewear options). The optician back then also dealt with this aspect extremely well.
And are you still wearing the same pair?
Yes and no. Three years ago I lost my glasses on an airplane. I consulted various different opticians and eventually succeeded in recreating the same eyewear with the help of photos.
Surely you could have just settled for a different model…
But this eyewear had become part of my character, and I was adamant that I didn’t want to permanently change my character. Maybe I should make a little confession at this point….
Do go on….
The lenses in these glasses have almost a neutral prescription. The ageing process has corrected my short-sightedness, but my eyewear has become my trademark and for that reason I want to keep it. I originally chose this eyewear because I didn’t want to change my character, but in the meantime it has come to form part of my character.
Did you never consider contact lenses instead?
I think I look better with eyewear than without, especially in the work environment.
Why in the work environment?
The eyewear allows me to come across as more knowledgeable. Other than that, I believe this eyewear cancels out the effects of ageing in the area all round the eyes. In other words it makes me look younger. It acts as a gentle soft focus. Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with a few little wrinkles here and there, this eyewear softens them out a little.
So you’re saying you look better with the eyewear than without. In these times of increasing equality, are external appearances still as crucial as they once were?
Issues around gender or diversity don’t mean that we women no longer have any interest in looking our best. We don’t want to be promoted because of the way we look. However, it is in the DNA of our sex to feel the need to try things out and make our outward appearance as good as it possibly can be. Increasingly, the same can now be said of men. The millennials are wearing a lot of make-up because they want to make the most of their freedom to do whatever they want. Our new advertising motto is: “Do it for you”. What this means is that you shouldn’t do things just to please other people. Instead you should do the things that make you feel good in yourself.
You have appointed women as managers, especially in roles linked with the digital world. Is that a coincidence?
Yes. We always appoint the best candidates. Some of the women around at the moment are incredibly talented. It gives me great pleasure to promote them. Especially because of the way they have learned to combine family and career, many of these women are superb when it comes to multitasking, and that is a skill that is becoming ever more important at work. Anyone who can keep five balls in the air at the same time will succeed. Studies of young children have demonstrated that from a biological point of view females have a more pronounced talent for communication – at least as a general rule. And that is a great help in modern management structures.