Low-quality fast fashion has consumed the retail industry across all markets and has lent itself to the over-consumption of cheaply made products, often from countries with lower environmental standards. Purchasing such products is done so with short-term use in mind and little regard for where they end up. Despite the rise in sustainable alternatives, many continue to feed into the larger structure of overconsumption, defeating the common sustainable purchasing goal
(Projected growth for eyewear by-product 2017 - 2028. Image: GVR)
When it comes to eyeglasses, the average wearer will typically buy a new pair once every three years. The eyeglasses market is beginning to recognize the importance of what their frames are made of, and where they end up. Yet many are still in it for the short-term gains. When looking to buy a new pair of eyeglasses that are in line with sustainable practices, aim to identify the following:
for a pair that has been made in a country with a record of environmental regulations and workers rights.
● Buy a pair that can be refurbished or repaired - a repairs policy before a replacement option is a key to sustainability.
● Buy a pair with higher quality standards - and therefore lasts longer.
● Buy a pair with a warranty - between 5 and 10 years is a good choice.
● Buy a pair as an investment.
● Buy from a company with a program in place to reuse
- either in the productionof your frames or to reuse your glasses once you are done with them.
At first instance, this seems like a pretty exhaustive list of prerequisites for the purchasing of sustainable eyeglasses. However, one company, in particular, has managed to hit each nail on the head - with an added feature of sentimental value; Vinylize.
Meet the Vinyl Glasses
Vinylize crafts eyewear using recycled vinyl records. They check all boxes in the list above since theyre handmade in Budapest, they can certainly be repaired, theyre made to superior quality and standard, they come with a warranty and the reusing of materials is at the heart of the company.
You can quite literally, take your favourite artist wherever you go. The Hungarian-American designer behind the brand came up with the idea to use LPs when he came across his fathers collection of old vinyl records. Using records found in London, all glasses are 100% handmade in a workshop in Budapest by a team of 16 people.
The company only makes around 70 pieces of the same model, using different parts of the vinyl for each frame they produce - no frames are the same. Its the high level of individuality that makes the 6 weeks wait worthwhile.
The vinyl record is taken and cut into the shape of the glasses and then heat-attached to the cellulose acetate to finalize the form. The high level of craftsmanship only strengthens the physical durability of the frames - meaning theyre intended to last a long time.
The eyeglasses are made for both men and women and have so far attracted hard-core fans of artists who want to keep a physical piece with them at all times. Vinylize has crafted eyewear using records from the likes of AC/DC, and Sammy Davis Jrs 1984 Motown pressing of Hello Detroit, and many more.
The explosion of vinyl glasses
Over the years, Vinylize has taken some hard knocks. Between 2005 and 2007 the brand continued to make eyewear wherever and however they could. But in 2014, they transported the machines used to manufacture vinyl eyewear to its factory in Hungary where a team of just 16 people continues to hand make the frames.
In the same year, Vinylize partnered with the Sziget Festival - one of the largest in Europe to make eyewear as special gifts for the headlining acts. And since 2015, theyve been creating successful collections licensed by AC/DC to be sold around the world.
Outside the world of Rock and Roll, the company has pursued collaborations with eyewear giant Maui Jim and has even made eyewear out of used Nespresso coffee capsules. Theyre still in their early and innovative days, but Vinylize has more exciting projects to come.