“We want to leave a decent legacy behind”
Wolf Eyewear’s Tom Wolfenden tells OT about the business’ new Inspirit philosophy and bio-acetate collection
12 February 2022
Wolf Eyewear has launched a new philosophy encompassing the business’ approach towards sustainability.
The reveal of the ‘Inspirit’ philosophy coincided with the launch of a new collection made from bio-acetate in January.
Introducing Inspirit online, Tom Wolfenden, managing director at Wolf Eyewear, said that whilst the journey towards being more sustainable as a business “started over two years ago,” the release of the new collection and philosophy “marks our commitment to the future.”
So far in the business’ sustainable journey, Wolf Eyewear has moved to new facilities that are almost completely powered by renewable energy and has introduced an electric fleet of cars for its sales team.
“After much testing and research, I’m delighted to showcase our latest release of frames that now feature bio-acetate, made from renewable sources instead of traditional oil-based ones – a more planet positive material,” Wolfenden said in a statement. The company has also introduced cases made from recycled cardboard and cloths made from recycled plastic bottles.
OT spoke to Wolfenden to find out more about the company’s Inspirit ethos and sustainable aims.
Can you tell us about the Inspirit philosophy?
Our journey to become a more sustainable business started a number of years ago – firstly with how we approached the team to try to include everyone in what we are doing.
We felt that, rather than just making the little changes that happen to come along, we would set out a philosophy that could encompass all of our decision-making processes. This means focusing on sustainability as part of that drive, to actively source a way of doing something in a responsible manner.
This goes across everything in the business. We moved office in August 2019 to a site where they were using solar panels to power a majority of the units. That was a big step for us.
Just shy of a year ago, we started moving the sales team into electric cars using government initiatives. It was an investment for the business, and a decision to make it more sustainable.
Every year awareness grows and people’s viewpoints come along on that journey too
How does the Inspirit collection fit alongside this philosophy?
We want to keep what we’re known for, and that is colourful frames that ignite your personality, confidence and imagination.
But you can’t just stop at launching an eco-friendly product and not look at your whole business. We wanted to consider what we are responsible for, our carbon footprint, plastic waste, recycling, all the water we use, and with the Inspirit philosophy, we wanted to change how the business is going to operate in the future.
We’ve launched 12 bio-acetate models for this collection. We wanted to test that we had read the market right and based on early responses, the feedback we have had is really strong. That’s really encouraging of the mentality towards sustainable and renewable products.
Do you have a favourite from the new collection?
My favourite is our hexagonal frame, the ’3136’. It has a cool shape, it is made from bio-acetate in bright colours, and it basically encompasses everything that Wolf Eyewear and the Inspirit philosophy are about.
What is the longer-term vision for sustainable frames at Wolf Eyewear? Would it be to transition totally to more eco-friendly materials?
As much as we can. We are still a fashion retail industry. We want to be able to package it in a way that means the consumer will enjoy the experience of wearing and using our products, which is why we can’t do it all overnight. Like for the rest of the world, it is an ongoing process.
Sustainability is now a part of the decision-making process. If there is a particular model we want to launch – in tortoiseshell for example – we will look to see if that is available in a bio-acetate form and discuss what is going to be better for the collection.
This might transition into more of the collection as we see technologies come along that allow us to laminate lots of different colours rather than just a few. Then it might be looking at recycled metals and other materials that we could bring into the collection. It is a huge journey and is never going to stop.
What is the demand for sustainable eyewear from consumers?
Renewable and sustainable ways of doing things are going to be here to stay. Every year awareness grows and people’s viewpoints come along on that journey too.
It’s not just about the product. It is about the whole ethos of the business that you are going to deal with and how it operates. The consumer wants to know where a product has come from, how it is manufactured, and if the company actually cares or if it is a marketing proposition. We want to be transparent in how we are doing things, which is why we are acting within this overall philosophy.
Eventually it will cover the whole lifecycle of the product – for example, if we could return the frames back to our office to recycle them so they don’t go into landfill and are repurposed for other uses. That is something we are looking at.
Would you have an overarching message for practices about the move towards sustainable products and operations?
I would encourage practices to ask questions. Everyone should know the journey of how things are done within a business. Ask questions, not just about the product, but about the company’s ethos behind it. Is it because the sustainable business is growing? Or a shift in the company mentality? Are they looking at other areas, and if so, what areas?
I think it is a nice story to tell a patient. For us, we’re a growing family business, and we want to leave a decent legacy behind.
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