A Growing Roster of Eyewear Companies Are Advocating Sustainability


New sustainable eyewear materials, fabrication, recycling and manufacturing technologies are still evolving. But there is one big message right now: There are going to be more and more. The wave is building to a larger scale in 2021, to serve an increased global and North American demand for new solutions.

At Eastman, the company which is significantly expanding its new sustainable initiatives in eyewear manufacture, Glenn Goldman, global marketing director of diversified markets, specialty plastics at Eastman Chemical, told VM, “We’re involved in many types of manufacturing markets, but in eyewear, the interest has been building up quickly. Even three years ago, it was rare to find many companies interested in talking about sustainability. Today, when you engage with designers and brand management companies, that’s the first thing they want to discuss now.”

These are just a few of the eyewear and sunwear companies making the push into sustainable programs, either as companies with increasing corporate commitments and or with the launch of specific collections and brands.

Modo Eyewear’s Eco initiative, an award-winning global program, continues to expand the range of its collections and its supporting initiatives. The company has expanded its sustainable programs for the environment and those without access. And, according to Rebecca Giefer, CEO, Modo Americas, the company will soon be launching a new Eco Ocean series, employing recycled and repurposed ocean plastics into a product collection in cooperation with Waste Free Oceans.

L’Amy America is debuting sun styles from its Ben Sherman Eco collection.

Safilo Group announced a few new initiatives just in the last few months. Its Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses will create sunglasses made with ocean waste plastic for the Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit environmental organization that develops advanced technologies to extract plastic pollution from the oceans. The Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses are made with injected plastic that is derived from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and created using an innovative upcycling process that includes types of plastics which have traditionally been more difficult to recycle.

Each pair of these limited-edition sunglasses will carry a unique QR code that directly connects the user to information about the product, the project and the specific place from where the marine plastic pollution was removed. The sunglasses will be available exclusively on The Ocean Cleanup website, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the continuation of the cleanup mission.

In addition, in Europe, Safilo Group announced the introduction of Econyl regenerated nylon in its eyewear collections, thanks to a pioneering partnership with Aquafil, a recognized global player with over half a century of expertise in creating synthetic fibers.

The line was recently introduced in the Tommy Jeans collection, within Tommy Hilfiger. Safilo will progressively introduce this material in its other brands’ collections. “Our investment to using recycled materials highlights our continued efforts toward promoting a responsible business,” explained Angelo Trocchia, CEO of Safilo Group.

Marchon, along with its partnership with Eastman’s new recycled acetate (see sidebar, Page 44), is also expanding a sustainability program with its Dragon division which is debuting Upcycled, a new eyewear collection made from recycled plastic water bottles. Thomas Burkhardt, senior vice president of global brands, marketing and design at Marchon said, “Dragon has always been a leader in creating premium eyewear that features technical breakthroughs. In addition to this new launch, Dragon has entered into an ongoing partnership with The Surfrider Foundation on their Clean Water Initiative, which is a multi-tiered approach to combating water pollution.”

Costa, long associated with sport and leisure activities and love of the water of all types, continues to promote its efforts to support a range of programs, from its Costa and OCEARCH program, to its projects with Bureo to Untangle Our Oceans, bringing recycled plastic pellets into its Untangled Collection of sunglasses and its initiative to Kick Plastic and reduce waste, encouraging recycling everywhere.

Marcolin announced its company wide initiative to sponsor Positive Luxury late last year. The group initiated its Positive Luxury Awards in Feburary of this year. Positive Luxury, founded in 2011, is “an award-winning sustainability platform that connects luxury brands with people working toward a better future through the unique Butterfly Mark, a symbol of trust earned by brands that have adopted sustainability as a key business principle,” Marcolin Group stated.

The Positive Luxury Awards 2020 will be a global celebration of sustainability and innovation within the luxury industry. At the Awards, Marcolin Group will sponsor the Innovation of the Year Award. In an announcement, Marcolin Group said the award “identifies true innovators taking an entirely new approach to their service, product, technology or business model, improving their social or environmental performance while also offering large scale improvements internally and externally.”

Proof Eyewear continues its commitment to sustainability which is at the core of the Idaho-based company founded in 2011. All Proof frames are created using eco-friendly materials, including sustainably sourced wood, biodegradable cotton-based acetate, and recycled aluminum. In addition, $10 of each frame purchase goes directly to the company’s Do Good Program, which gives back to various local and global projects, an initiative that continues to expand.

Many more companies have committed to sustainability materials and/or causes for their businesses. Among these are Solo Eyewear, Thema, Sihouette neubau, Genusee, Barton Perreira, Ovvo Optics, Luxottica’s Arnette, OGI and Fellow Earthlings.

As things develop into 2021, watch for expanded Vision Monday and VMAIL coverage of these initiatives and collections.