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OT  focuses on…sustainable eyewear

Eyewear suppliers with sustainable aims are using innovative methods to create stylish spectacles and sunglasses


Bio-based design

Last year, Neubau launched its 100% bio-based line of frames, made in a 3D printer from natural materials. The frames utilise natural3D, a material formed using oil extracted from the seeds of the castor oil plant. The powder is then merged together in layers by a laser, using 3D printing.

From January, the eyewear brand has struck out from its parent business, Silhouette, as an independent company. Moving forwards, the company intends to focus on the premium market and resource-efficient production, aiming to embrace the idea that “high-end accessories don’t have to be incompatible with respect for people and the planet.”

For 2021, the brand is focusing on ‘Changing the perspective’ with collections drawing inspiration from the four elements. Designers said they were inspired by the “paradox of nature’s resilience and fragility” for the new styles. The collections will include a mix of sunglasses and optical frames, crafted sustainably from materials such as the brand’s naturalPX (65% bio-based) and natural3D (100% bio-based). The ‘Water’ line was released in January with others to follow throughout the year.


Back to the roots

Eco-friendly and ethical eyewear brand, Bird Sunglasses, has launched a limited edition range of frames featuring real leaves. The ‘Pluma’ bio-acetate frame is inlaid with real leaves, “capturing a moment of nature.” The process involved in creating the frame involves 15 days to bring out the structure of a leaf using only water. After drying, the best leaves are chosen and arranged by hand in sheets of bio-acetate.

The frames are available in a choice of two colours with polarised emerald lenses, or are available to fit with prescription lenses.

Speaking to OT, Bird Sunglasses founder, Ed Bird, said of the new collection: “We're passionate about reframing what matters, pioneering beautiful eyewear that makes a difference and leaves little impact on the world. Our ‘Pluma’ frame embodies a love of nature in a functional form.”

In 2020, Mr Bird was a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Entrepreneur for Good category.

Bird sunglasses
Bird Sunglass

Natural materials

Hemp Eyewear has released a new optical frame using organic hemp and turmeric. The designers aimed to “push the boundaries” of sustainable design, utilising the vibrant spice as one in a range of natural pigments used in its collection, from blueberries to beetroot. The brand suggests the colour complements the bold cat’s eye style frame.

The brand, focused on sustainability and craft, has said it was behind the world’s first hemp fibre eyewear. All products are natural and vegan, with each frame handmade in Edinburgh using organic hemp grown in France. The collection includes prescription glasses and sunglasses.

Sam Whitten, founder of Hemp Eyewear, said: “We wanted to push the boundaries of our sustainable technology and develop exciting new combinations. Turmeric was the perfect choice for a bright, vibrant colour with a positive impact on the planet.”

Hemp Eyewear
Hemp Eyewear

Planet positive

In 2020, Coral Eyewear launched its ‘Endangered Collection’ of sustainable, infinitely recyclable and ‘planet positive’ eyewear. In February 2021, the sustainable brand is launching a new limited-edition frame, designed in collaboration with the Formula E racing driver, Alexander Sims.

The new style offers an update to Coral Eyewear’s ‘Albacore’ frame, with red UVA/UVB polarised lenses, in a nod to Mr Sims’ team, Mahindra Racing. The frame is crafted from Coral Eyewear’s signature material, Econyl, pellets of recycled nylon made from discarded fishing nets and fabric scraps.

Speaking to OT, founder of Coral Eyewear, George Bailey, said: “2021 is set to be a big year for Coral Eyewear. Following our new launch of the Virtual Try On service, this will continue to be something we focus on well into the new year in a bid to reduce returns and waste by encouraging the use of the ultra-realistic technology ahead of purchase.”

Commenting on the new frame, Mr Bailey remarked on Mr Sims’ “proven track-record” for sustainability and high-performance environments, adding: “With Alexander wearing our glasses and sunglasses, we really believe we can change the way people see the entire eyewear industry.”

OT spoke with Mr Sims in September 2020 about his approach to selecting spectacles and his partnership with Coral Eyewear.