Understanding the impact of materials is complicated. For our first wireframe collection, a collaboration with Oliver Spencer, our choice to move to metal frames came with a few other material changes too. Namely, we switched out our vegetable tanned leather case for a new recycled leather.
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OUR MATERIALS: RECYCLED LEATHER
LET'S TALK RECYCLED LEATHER
WHY DID WE USE IT?
We are constantly seeking to improve upon the materials we use. We've previously deliberated between using vegan leather or vegetable tanned leather - at that point, vegetable tanned leather came out on top due to its superior quality and reduced impact on the environment compared with chrome leather. The availability of vegan leathers weren't quite up to par, and we didn't want to resort to using PU alternatives either.
While vegetable tanned leather may be better for the environment in some ways, it's still a flawed industry. Even though it's a by-product of the meat industry and it's manufactured with only natural materials in the tanning process, waste is still produced by the tanneries. Without being repurposed, this scrap material would otherwise end up being discarded.
IS IT BETTER THAN GENUINE LEATHER?
Recycled leather can be seen as a by-product of a by-product. For our recycled leather eyewear cases, our Italian workshop collects these offcuts from local tanneries and combines them with natural latex to form the new material.
An important aspect of our materials is both their traceability and transparency. Each of the factory's suppliers are based locally and source materials in compliance with REACH regulations and guidelines, which ensures that the use of chemicals is controlled and do not exceed levels that are harmful to the environment.
Our goal for zero waste: no fixtures or buttons, just recycled leather.
We designed these cases with the aim to reduce waste once it's reached the end of its product life. This meant switching out the press studs of our leather cases and opting for a new design altogether that doesn't require any additional material for its fixtures. With exception to two lines of stitching securing the rest for the nose bridge, the case is made entirely from recycled leather and is ergonomically designed to both protect your eyewear and to conveniently carry around.
A CASE FOR RECYCLED LEATHER
The reality is that all materials inevitably have an affect on the environment. The true impact of recycled leather can depend on how the leather that goes into it has been manufactured.
There are several stages to the production process that will effect the final material. With this in mind, it was important to us to find a manufacturer that considers its impact. Our recycled leather workshop uses production methods that reduces waste, minimises its use of chemicals, recovers a huge portion of water used and combines the leather scraps with natural substances.
Waste from tanneries are returned to the production cycle to form a new product.
Use of chemicals is reduced.
Natural latex is used to bind the scraps into the new material.
80% of water used is recovered and re-used.
Reduction of waste during production thus a greater yield.
We're still looking into the potential of bio-based vegan leathers for our cases. We do believe recycled leather is a step in the right direction, but improvements can certainly be made. We hope to create a case in the near future that even further reduces our impact on the planet. We've delved into a fair amount of research on the subject which we hope to share with you, so keep an eye out for more information to come.