As consumers start to Green Up they are spending more on Ethical Shopping. For them it makes sense to Look Good, Feel Good and Do Good and they want to spend their money with socially responsible companies that address environmental and social issues. This market is proven to be recession proof and growing up to 20% per year.
Big Retail and designers are listening. H+M put in a sustainable model in place, designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney have incorporated ethical fashion on the runways. We see that trend in optical with many companies participating in giving back, supported vision programs and donated frames, reducing their carbon footprint and finding ethically sourced products.
Least you think that Warby Parker started the first buy and give one program, they were not, although they led the way for others and showed that a sustainable model can work, Adlens, 141 Eyewear, Smart Buy Glasses, Toms, Ace and Tate, Modo
Currently there are over 200 eyewear companies both wholesale, retail and online that prescribe to a Corporate Sustainabillity program which includes giving back.
This catergory encompasses:
Philanthropic Pframes: Giving Back is a strong trend and a tough one to maintain for eyewear companies and I give any companies a big kudo for maintaining a Sustainable Model. There are many companies that start the give back model and quit after a year or two.
- Buy and Give: This social good platform is a general buy and they donate back a percentage of profits or give back a frame or support Sight Outreach programs. Eyes of Faith (Vision), PawsnClaws (ASPCA) Velvet Eyewear (Education) Ramsey Supply (Homeless) Spy Optics (Ocean)
- Limited Edition Platform: Company produces x amount of styles and all or part of the proceeds will go back to a particular charity. You might see this in Breast Cancer eyewear and accessories. WileyX, ClearVision, Hilco and Altair have all produced ‘Pink’ for the money of October. Another example is Limited Edition Ryuichi Sakamoto x Oliver Peoples Eyewear Ryuichi Sakamoto and Oliver Peoples have joined together to bring awareness of moretrees.com an environmental organizations that plants trees around the world
Corporate Sponsorships: Many companies give back to the optical community by supporting The Vision Council, Vision Expo, Trade organizations, Vision Charities such as Think About Your Eyes and VOSH.
- Other companies such as Modern Optical, A&A Optical, Clearvision, Liberty Sport, Wiley X, Rudy Project, Vision-Ease have corporate sustainable programs which include Food Banks, Education and other local events. Many companies also contribute to programs such as Project Homeless Connect (Denver, San Francisco)
Eco Friendly Materials: The use of Earth Friendly materials is growing as companies respond to the demand for more eco-friendly ways of doing business.
- Natural Materials:. Natural materials include wood, bamboo, hemp, stone, marble, cement, horn, antlers, tusks, cork, skins, leather.
- Bio Plastics or plant based materials: The use of eco friendly bio-plastics, Mazzucchelli M49 bio plasticm castor bean with companies such as Zeal, Awear by Charmant, the Kelly Slater Sunglass are made with a plant based Polymer, newcomer Crafting Plastics has come with with a new Bio-Plastic
- Recycled Materials: Along the green theme is recycled materials such as Mazzucchelli M49 Bio Plastic #2 plastics, fishing line, textiles such as denim, skateboards, metals and acetate. This arena is growing with innovators such as SeatoSee via crowd-sourcing has come up with a way to turn ocean plastic into eyewear. See Plastic Differently campaign from Norton Project has created eyewear from #2 plastic and ocean trash, Karun with Bureo has created sunglasses from Ghost Nets. Mosevic has an worn denim eyewear line.
- Recycled Metals and acetates: Another strong trend is reusing recycled materials. A few companies are going so far to certify the closed loop. Proof Eyewear, Modo are a few companies that are using recycled metals.
Companies that Minimize Effect on The Environment: Whether it is ethically sourced, no sweatshops, certified natural materials, zero waste, or buying local
Signage for Ethical Fashion: Sustainable Shades, Sustainable Fashion, Ethical Fashion, Eco Friendly Eyewear, Social Conscience Eyewear, Social Responsible Eyewear or just plain Giving Back.
1.) Eyecare professionals that are involved in any local-community events that include giving back, it should be on your website and social media.
2.) Set up a separate section for Ethical Fashion
3.) Have Ethical Fashion Trunks shows around various holidays, such as Arbor Day (Tree planting eyewear companies) Back To School (Education give back).
4.) Get involved with the local community resources on your favorite give-back charity.
5.) Make sure you believe in the charities you will be giving back to. Adds passion and excitement to the presentation of the product.