Interview: Walter Hester, founder, Maui Jim

Earlier this year sunglass maker Maui Jim announced plans for a prescription lab in Braunschweig, Germany, along with a range of optical frame styles. Chris Bennett caught up with Maui Jim’s owner, Walter Hester, at Mido in Milan

Hawaiian sunglass brand Maui Jim has become synonymous with classic styling and quality sun lenses. Its products are designed on the Pacific Islands and use Italian and Japanese expertise in their manufacture. The products are supported from distribution and service centres in Peoria Illinois and Braunschweig in Germany.

Peoria also has a prescription lab which glazes prescription sunglasses for its global market. Maui Jim is best known for its colour enhancing and polarising lenses but last year it decided to branch out into the untinted optical business. Peoria has started producing prescription lenses and this summer sees the opening of a state of the art prescription lab in Braunschweig. This will meet the demand for prescription lenses in Europe and support the supply of lenses to other regions of the world.

For an undertaking which could dramatically increase the size of its business Walter Hester, chief executive officer and owner of Maui Jim, is characteristically laid back: ‘Having an optical offering made sense for us,’ he says adding that customer requests for clear lenses had been made for some time. These were rarely produced although clear prescription lenses have been produced by the lab in special circumstances.

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