Jules Morel established himself as a “nose-clip finisher” on his own on the family farm, located on the heights of Les Rousses.
This activity occupied the long winter months. In the summer, he became a peasant-farmer full-time, quietly letting the letters he received from clients, subcontractors, and merchants pile up.
This dual work was very common in Haut-Jura: farmers abandoned farming in the winter and devoted themselves to lucrative activities that do not require much storage space, thus why the eyeglass and diamond industries grew in this region.
Jules Morel had two children: Germaine and Marius, who supported his father in his work as a peasant and an eyeglass maker.
However, unlike his father, Marius was not content with being a part-time eyeglass maker: his passion for the trade and his industrial soul led him to “go down” to Morez in order to fully devote himself to the manufacture of glasses.
Marius Morel then took over the business of Bonnefoy-Dumont, which enabled him to acquire equipment and some employees already trained in the trade: Morel then took a big step, leaving the craft to go back into the industrial world.
In 1948, Marius Morel fell seriously ill: his eldest son, Jacques, then a student in Lyon, returned urgently to Morez to support his father during his convalescence.
In the post-war era, there were few orders. It was therefore necessary to sell and to sell again – to which Jacques tirelessly worked. Every day, for a year, Jacques wrote to his father to tell him about the life of the company, the decisions he made, and the orders he made.
When Marius returned from his convalescence, he resumed his place at the head of the company but re-introduced his son, who had proven his abilities in operational direction.
In 1958, the company received an “export Oscar” from the Ministry of Finance for all its commercial activities.
For Morel, exporting is a long story: since 1880, Jules Morel had been traveling miles by train, heading for Switzerland or Belgium, to deliver his frames, not hesitating to ride his bike 40 km in the snow to reach the closest station!
In the 1950s, exports accelerated. Morel positioned itself in new, highly demanding markets, like the United States.
During this period, some models were manufactured in a series of 10,000 to 20,000 copies, which prompted Jacques to purchase new premises and recruit new employees.
In the 1960s, Morel manufactured their first “grandson” glasses, that is, with very fine gold-lined wire. Thinner, lighter but still solid, these frames were a resounding success around the world.
The emblematic model of this collection is unquestionably the “Tydee.” Known mainly under the reference 6000, this frame sold a million copies worldwide, seducing a public that Morel had not reached until then: artists, young people, celebrities who then became brand ambassadors.
A success such as the Tydée would be in the house catalog until the 80s. More recently, this iconic model has been updated under the brand Marius Morel 1880 collection: still popular, the “Tydée” continues to dress faces around the world.
In the 70s, design entered the eyewear world that had been solely functional until then: we went from the “medical prosthesis” spectacles to the “fashion accessory” glasses, for which Italians are champions.
It was also the time when the license system was put into place by large fashion houses and was in full swing.
Morel then hired the designer Jacques Depussay in 1977: a first, since previously the creation of spectacles was mainly ensured by Jacques Morel. Jacques Depussay would participate in the creation of many models and would allow the company to fit into new market segments, such as young women’s glasses or children’s eyewear.
In the 90s, Jacques’ children – Jérôme, Francis and Amélie – took up the family company.
Anchored in the culture of product marketing, Jérôme decided to launch a design contest for the bicentennial of eyewear manufacturing. The principle was simple: to participate, designers had to create and prototype an avant-garde frame.
Seduced by Swedish designer Jonas Blanking’s winning work, Morel decided to collaborate with him and give him carte blanche to create a new contemporary and urban men’s collection.
Jonas accepted the challenge and created the Öga brand and its universe, inspired by Scandinavian architecture. The brand made quite an entrance into the eyewear world, then largely dominated by licenses, by its high class and atypical universe, far from what was done at the time.
Driven by the worldwide success of Öga, Morel decided to segment its offer by creating brands with very distinct universes and positioning; the aim being to offer the optician a “turn-key” offer.
This challenge was taken up by Amélie Morel, the company’s communication director, who worked with designers to create the thematic and graphic universes specific to each brand.
In 2003, Morel had a wide range of brands, including Koali, Öga, Nomad, Lightec, and Rebel. The 1880 Marius Morel brand would extend the supply of the company a few years later.
In 2008, Morel received the Silmo d’or optic frames category, the Oscar equivalent in the world of eyeglasses, for his “Osaka” frame of the Nomad brand.
For this frame, the designer was inspired by Japanese screens to make a color insert appear and disappear on the glasses temples; a witty modularity that pleased the jury.
In 2009, the same award in the same category was given to the Nomad’s frame “Sevilla.” Evoking Andalusian fans, the frame merges a thin colorful fan at the top and bottom of the temples. This exceptional miniaturization work constitutes a veritable showcase of Morel’s know-how
Since communication efforts were hitherto focused on brands, 2016 represents an important turning point for Morel.
Indeed, in that year, the company decided to launch a strong corporate communication campaign: the idea was to put Morel back on the stage, while answering a recurring question – “Why the cat? “.
This is how “The saga of the cat” was presented at the Silmo 2016: a bold campaign that was greeted with enthusiasm in the world of eyewear.