It doesn't matter how famous you are, or successful you've been in the past. Even the biggest brands in the world can quickly go bankrupt if the economic tide moves against them, or they simply don't manage their affairs well.
From Kodak to General Motors, history is littered with examples. And in 2015 they were joined by the iconic German lens manufacturer Meyer Optik Görlitz.
Founded in 1896 by optician Hugo Meyer, the firm forged a name for itself during the 1920s for its high quality lenses, including the Prota, Planar, and Tessar range. By 1936, it was producing 100,000 lenses a year.
Things started to go south towards the end of the century, though, with Meyer Optik Görlitz going into liquidation in 1990.
The brand was brought back to life in 2014 when it was bought by Net SE. The following year, it launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce the Trioplan f2.9/50 lens.
However, despite raising $683,801, no lenses were ever produced, the backers lost all their money, and the owners filed for bankruptcy in 2018. This catastrophic chapter tarnished a once-respected brand enormously, and many assumed Meyer Optik Görlitz would never recover.
So is its revival for 2021, its 125th anniversary year, simply going to be more of the same?
A 'real company' once more
The new management is at pains to stress that things will be different this time. In a press release, they explain that rather than being "a brand name only", Meyer Optik Görlitz is now "a real company again".
In other words, from now on it will be operating as an independent company, under the umbrella of its parent, the German conglomerate OPC Optics.
"After almost three years of hard and intensive work, we are very happy to have laid the foundation for an independent Meyer Optik Görlitz GmbH and to be able to put it on its own feet," says Timo Heinze, its managing director.
"After we, under the umbrella of OPC Optics, developed the brand's portfolio and established sales structures, the time has now come for Meyer Optik Görlitz to step out of the shadows as a 'real' company and operate independently on the market."
New lenses to come
So what does that actually mean in practice for photographers? Well, Meyer Optik Görlitz will be launching the Trioplan 35 II, Biotar 58 II and Biotar 75 II lenses in the fourth quarter of 2021, and promises to further expand the portfolio with classic models.
Other new products are already in the works, it says, so further launches can be expected in 2022. We're looking forward to seeing what the brand comes up with, and will let you know all about them once we get our hands on them.
In the meantime, Meyer Optik Görlitz is already selling four lenses on its website that were launched before its spin-off as an independent company: the Lydith 30 f3.5 II, Trioplan 100 f2.8 II, Trioplan 50 f2.8 II and Primoplan 75 f1.9 II, for around €899-999 a piece (approximately $1,062-$1180 / £763-£848 / AU$1,436-$1,596) for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, L-Mount, Leica M and Pentax K mount.