International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options

International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options

As a writer, I get a lot of press releases. A lot. And of varying quality.

Many of these are linked to the various awareness days that pepper the year. You know the sort of thing: Mental Health Awareness Week, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, International Talk Like A Pirate Day.*

Wednesday 27th June 2018 is International Sunglasses Day so I’ve been dutifully waiting for the onslaught of related press releases – to no avail.

As yet, nothing has arrived. Not a single email about sunglasses, whether linked to the day’s actual purpose of promoting the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays or simply hawking a new range.

Most odd. I’m wondering if something is actually wrong with my Inbox.

My Pala sunglassess || International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options || raeritchie.com
My Pala sunglasses in the sunshine

Beyond Ray-Bans

The world’s most popular sunglasses brand is, unsurprisingly, Ray-Ban. In 2016, they commanded 5 per cent of the global eye wear market while in 2017, parent company Luxottica made an enormous 9.16 million euros in net sales. Having spent a summer seeing them everywhere (including my own face), last September I wrote a reflection on what makes them so popular.

Now I’m wondering if we’ve hit peak Ray-Ban (prayban, maybe?!). Have they reached the point of ubiquity where they lose all their cool? Or has that moment already long past? Maybe I’m alone feeling a bit, well, bored by them.

If you’re looking for an alternative, there are some great ethical brands whose sunglasses not only look good but do good. Here are four options:

Dick Moby

Dick Moby sunglasses || International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options || raeritchie.com

These Amsterdam-based sunglasses makers use recycled acetate for their black frames and bio based acetate for all the others.

Pala

Pala sunglasses || International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options || raeritchie.com

Pala support vision projects in Africa. Through their buy a pair, give a pair scheme, they’ve helped to improve the sight of 5,000 people.

Panda

Panda's Wesli Ultralight || International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options || raeritchie.com
Panda’s Wesli Ultralight

As well as using sustainable bamboo for their frames, for each pair purchased, Panda donate an eye exam and new glasses to someone in need via partners Optometry Giving sight.

W.R.Yuma

W.R.Yuma sunglasses || International Sunglasses Day 2018: Ethical Options || raeritchie.com

W.R.Yuma use recycled car dashboards, drinks bottles and fridges to make the world’s first 3D printed sunglasses created from plastic waste.

* International Talk Like A Pirate Day is 19th September 2018.

 

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In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)

Woman in sunglasses - In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)

Around the time of Glastonbury, there was a lot of buzz in the media about inflatable flamingos being the must-have accessory of the summer.  Having spent the last few months scrolling through endless holiday snaps on Facebook and Instagram while impatiently waiting for my late September getaway to roll around, I can confirm that I’ve seen a couple – but nowhere near as many as pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Home or away, man or woman, couple or single, young or old, I’ve lost count of the number of shades I’ve seen with the distinctive logo in the top left corner.  From a friend ordering some of Ray-Ban Aviators customised with her name back at the beginning of May to my beloved red Ray-Ban Clubmasters just unpacked and sitting on my dresser, I’ve encountered them almost as regularly as the ubiquitous summertime adverts for cheap lager.

Audrey Hepburn in Ray-Bans during the opening scenes of Breakfast At Tiffany's || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
Audrey Hepburn in Ray-Bans during the opening scenes of Breakfast At Tiffany’s || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)- raeritchie.com

In the shades

There are now more options for sunnies than ever.  Newcomers to the market such as Pala, who support vision projects in Africa through their sales, and Dick Moby, handmade from bio and recycled acetate, cater for the growing number of ethically conscious consumers.  Fashion magazines publicise high end firms such as Cutler and Gross as the brand du jour, and I get no end of compliments on my Italia Independent exclusives.

Other companies may have their moment in the sun (remember the popularity of Oakley shades in the nineties?) but still Ray-Ban reign supreme in the world of sunglasses, almost as synonymous as Hoover and vacuum cleaner.  According to data from Euromonitor International, in 2016 they were the largest sunglasses brand and commanded 5 percent of the global of the global eye wear market.  In 2014, they generated an enormous 2.065 billion euros for their owners Luxottica, an Italian firm who also operate Oakley, Oliver Peoples and pretty much every designer sunglasses range that you can name, including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY and Versace.

Tom Cruise popularised Ray-Ban aviators in the hit film Top Gun || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
Tom Cruise popularised Ray-Ban aviators in the hit film Top Gun || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) – raeritchie.com

What is it about Ray-Ban that makes them so popular?

It’s partly down to Luxottica’s management since they took over the company in 1999.  They changed the manufacturing process, using modern eyewear technology and vastly improving quality, and rebranded Ray-Ban as a luxury product, all without losing the aesthetics for which the firm was known.

There are other factors too.  The widespread ownership of sunglasses helps.  Opticians are always reminding us that they aren’t just a fashion item and it seems that we are taking notice, with rising awareness of the need for eye protection credited with boosting worldwide sales.  Plus unlike other areas of apparel, sunglasses are purchased by men and women, with one UK survey by Mintel finding that men were almost twice as likely as women to buy designer shaded specs (20 percent compared to 11 percent).

Obligatory cute kid in sunnies pic

Our love of sunglasses often begins early in life.  One summer my then three year old nephew couldn’t be parted from his Thomas the Tank Engine frames.  Who doesn’t have a childhood photograph of themselves posing proudly in a pair?

Back then sunglasses have a fun, novelty value, but we soon grow to learn that they represent so much more.  They are entry level designer goods, a status symbol that is neither too ostentatious nor breaks the bank – particularly if justified on cost-per-wear basis as my friend and I did with her customised Aviators.

The cool factor

Of course no discussion of sunglasses, particularly Ray-Ban, would be complete without reference to the word ‘cool’.  Earlier this year, Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Centre commissioned a report which found that over half of the 2,000 British adults questioned considered sunglasses to be the coolest fashion accessory – and a massive two-thirds believed that sunglasses made wearers look instantly more stylish!

Again Ray-Ban dominate these notions of cool.  Also earlier this year, in a GlobalWedIndex survey of over 28,000 Internet users aged 16-64, Ray-Ban were voted the coolest luxury brand, with almost 40 percent choosing them over the other sixteen options that included Chanel and Armani.

The Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh style || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
The Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh style || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) – raeritchie.com

This perception has developed over the course of the company’s almost ninety year history, encouraged by the many iconic sunglasses wearers who have donned one kind of Ray-Ban or another, including Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  With the Jackie Ohh, Ray-Ban even created a design for another legendary sunglasses wearer, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

With this level of pedigree, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we are so heavily drawn to Ray-Ban.  A practical purpose, relatively accessible price point and the cachet of a designer brand meets the Hollywood dream factory and fantasy world of the world’s most stylish stars.  No wonder we’re loyal fans of the Ray Ban Aviator, Ray Ban Clubmaster, Ray Ban Wayfarer and more: Ray-Ban put all other sunglasses brands in the shade.

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Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

While the sun shone down gloriously on London this Tuesday, I spent the day in the giant greenhouse that is Kensington Olympia.  I was there for a trade show featuring lots (and I mean *lots*) of companies looking for new retail outlets; imagine the Clothes Show or the Ideal Home exhibition without being able to buy any of the goods.  This is probably a good thing as I wanted so much, from sea shell earrings to several different kinds of bag to some oversize pink earrings!

Window shopping opportunities aside, I was there on a specific mission. 

In my fashion and beauty writing, I’m committed to featuring eco, ethical and sustainable firms as much as I possibly can.  In particular, I want to highlight the many innovative and stylish small brands working in this area – brands that don’t have huge publicity budgets but deserve exposure.

At Olympia, I was looking for companies doing good work in terms of conscious consumption so that I could share them with you.

Boy did I find some!  Below I’ve detailed my highlights in five categories (beauty, candles, fashion, jewellery and other).  I hope that you like their look, and their ethos, as much as I did.  Visit their websites, follow them on social media (check out my following lists on Twitter and Instagram if you like) and next time you’re making a purchase, consider buying from one of them.

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ Lao Tzu

Do you have any brands that you like to recommend?  Tell me about them!  You can comment below.  Plus if you enjoyed reading this post, please do tell others about it on social media – it really helps!  Sharing buttons are also below.

 

  • Beauty

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products

Corinne Taylor Organic Aromatherapy

Natural, organic handcrafted and vegan friendly, never animal tested, ethically sourced and eco-friendly handmade products in recyclable packaging.  Also free from SLS, parabens, synthetic fragrance, petroleum and mineral oils [That’s quite a list!].

Nathalie Bond Organics

Small batches of handcrafted botanical skincare and essential oils candles made using completely natural and organic ingredients [These aren’t a new discovery – I love their soap, as I mentioned last week – but they definitely warrant a mention].

Nathalie Bond Organics - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Savon Stories

Raw minimalist organic skincare, handcrafted in England and made according to the family’s century’s old ethos of nurturing the best of good green earth and being rich with less than more.

 

  • Candles
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box

The Bird Box

Sustainably sourced, handmade in Britain candles and home scents made using pure essential oils.

 

Join

Vegan, carbon neutral natural soy wax candles with cotton core wicks, essential oils and recycled packaging, handcrafted in small batches in a garden studio.

 

Join - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

The London Refinery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

The London Refinery

Candles free from petrochemicals, parabens and synthetic fragrances.

 

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Sun.Day of London

100% free from synthetic perfumes, chemicals and paraffin, using only GMO-free coconut and plant waxes, pure cotton wicks and uniquely formulated aromatherapy grade essential oils.

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

  • Fashion

Aura Que - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Aura Que

Each product is created by handicraft charity units or World Fair Trade Organization producer groups in Nepal, giving local people an income in line with fair trade principles along with a continually developing commitment to minimising environmental impact as much as possible.

By Studio Hand - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

By Studio Hand

All products are designed and made in the UK using nontoxic dyes and organic fabrics; all are vegan.  The clutch bags are hand painted and made from abstract paintings, making each one unique.

 

Egos Copenhagen - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Egos Copenhagen

Natural wool slippers designed in Denmark, manufactured in Nepal using eco-friendly dyes, World Fair Trade Organization certified.  Profits also support a Nepalese orphanage.

 

 

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Pala Sunglasses

 

Pala Sunglasses

For every pair of sunglasses bought, one person in Africa who needs prescription glasses gets them.

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono
Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono

 

 

Studio Kimono

Vintage silk kimonos from Kyoto are upcycled into unique new items, such as clutch bags and jackets.

 

 

 

Terracotta Row - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Terracotta Row

These bags are made in England from fabric discarded by industry.

 

 

Valentina Karellas -Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Valentina Karellas

Trans-seasonal designs made from textile factories’ surplus yarn.

 

 

  • Jewellery and Accessories
All The Things We Like - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
All The Things We Like

All the Things We Like

Designed and produced locally to their Dutch studio using local artisans and social workplaces as well as environmentally sound materials such as FSC certified or recycled wood.

Artisan Life - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Artisan Life

Artisan Life

Focused on fair trading and supporting Columbian artisans, particularly women with no other employment options, while also using suppliers certified by the Administrative Department of the Environment in Columbia.

Caliz Jewellery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
‘Vegetable ivory’ seed used in Caliz London jewellery

 

 

 

 

Caliz London

Handcrafted jewellery created from vegetable ivory, a seed from a Columbian palm tree – a natural, ethical and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory.

 

Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
A Just Trade collaboration with WWF
Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Just Trade

 

Just Trade

Just Trade collaborates directly with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India to create handmade jewellery that is fairly traded and crafted from locally-sourced and ethical materials where possible.

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Ziko Afrika

Founded by two sisters, Ziko Afrika (‘Afrika has it’) creates modern jewellery using traditional craftsmanship by local artisans in Kenya.

 

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

  • Other areas
Anneka Textiles - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Anneka Textiles

Anneka Textiles

Creating upcycled homeware by taking mixed fibre knitwear, returning it back to fibre then re-spinning and felting into new sustainable material without using any harsh dyes or chemicals.

Helen Moore Revival Collection - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Helen Moore Revival Collection

 

 

 

 

Helen Moore

The Revival Collection of home accessories is made using off-cuts from the fast fashion t-shirt industry that are saved, sorted, shredded, woven and then reused by Indian families working in good conditions.

Tangent GC - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Tangent GC

 

TangentGC

Organic skin care along with garment care and shoe care, inspired by the creator’s grandfather, designed to allow us to better look after what we already own.

 

 

 

 

Seedball

Seedballs are designed to encourage bees and butterflies by making it easier for everyone to grow either wildflowers or herbs or salad.  They’ve been designed specifically for a north eastern European climate and each one containing of these British made balls contains a mini ecosystem of seeds, clay, peat-free compost and a little chilli powder to deter predators!  This is a new concept in the UK but seed balls have been used in ecological restoration projects around the world.

For more from me straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly mailing.  It includes exclusive offers and giveaways! Every single subscription makes a real difference to me and my work.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.