German optical brand HOFFMANN NATURAL EYEWEAR was fully committed to sustainability long before it became a buzzword. Not just by advancing the use of natural horn as a raw material, but also by maintaining the lowest possible carbon footprint. According to CEO and designer Jutta Kahlbetzer, a growing number of consumers is demanding sustainably manufactured products these days. A trend most likely accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to highly sustainable and entirely natural products in the collection, Kahlbetzer points out the 100% horn models, which also feature horn temples. SPECTR discusses the current impact of Covid-19 and highlights of the new collection.     

Hello Jutta, what has your personal experience of the coronavirus era been like?

At first it seemed rather surreal. Until reports from friends and partners across the globe ‘catapulted’ us back to reality. Then we were faced with an initial shock: What do we do? What’s going to happen to our company, our employees, our customers, the entire planet? Is everyone going to be healthy? How dangerous is this thing, really?

Which aspects of your business were impacted most by the lockdown?

Fortunately, our sustainable products from our manufacture are appreciated in many regions across the globe. But in many countries, the lockdown has had much more devastating effects compared to Germany. So things simply stood still in many parts of the world, which means that we can only make very limited deliveries to more distant markets right now.

Do you see any upcoming large-scale trends in response to Covid-19?

A crisis like this, although the origins and counteractions may be hard to grasp, tends to sharpen awareness and mindfulness. As a result, more and more people are asking questions like: Do I really need such and such product? Is less actually more, especially if it’s sustainable and high-quality? Could I use this situation as a chance to reevaluate certain aspects of my life and make changes accordingly?

On that note, lots of people have used this mandatory time-out for contemplation and creative housecleaning. Did you have any positive takeaways from the crisis?

We are fortunate to be living surrounded by nature, which we have come to appreciate in these times especially. Spending time out in nature together with our family has been a tremendous help to recharge our energy to meet these new challenges.

What will be the lasting changes in our industry due to the crisis?

Our industry will also become more mindful. More things will be questioned. Although the crisis has led to a stronger push into digital transformation – fortunately and finally in schools – our industry is seeing a desire for closer personal interactions with expert opticians. In many cases, eyewear consultations have been more intense, often with the result that consumers tend to choose higher-grade, and perhaps, even more sustainable glasses.

A commitment to sustainability has been your calling card as a horn eyewear specialist for quite some time now. In how far do you notice, also due to the crisis, a growing demand for products with lower environmental impact?

We actually experienced this positive trend for several years now and it has indeed been intensified by the pandemic. Previously, it’s been a case of “a prophet has no honor in his own country,” which may be exaggerating a bit. Nevertheless, we have recently noticed a much higher demand from customers in Germany and surrounding areas who otherwise tended to follow widely distributed fashion brands.

What qualifies horn as a sustainable material?

It already starts with obtaining this entirely natural raw material. Horn from the Asian water buffalo can only be leveraged after the animal exceeds its natural lifespan. The older the water buffalo, the more beautiful the horn structure. The horn plates are cut on-site in India, so the process of value creation remains within the country. And it also reduces the volume of transported inventory significantly compared to hollow, untreated horns.

What happens to scrap materials left over from production?

Residual material from manufacturing can be used as fertilizer in agriculture, in botanical nurseries and viniculture. We also use it to fertilize our own lettuce. The small horn tips, which cannot be leveraged into eyewear products, are cut into natural horn buttons in India. This ensures end-to-end usage of all material. Additionally, water buffalo play an indispensable role as helpers in rice fields, and culturally, they are highly respected creatures in Hinduism and Buddhism.   

What are some more advantages of horn?

There are several. Horn is extremely lightweight, does not trigger allergies and is wonderful to repair. The colors are unique, impossible to replicate in acetate or other materials. The comfort of wear is especially apparent in summer, since perspiration does not cause any moisture build-up beneath the horn. Additionally, horn is a breathable natural material.

You’re doubling down on your usage of horn in your 100% horn frames, which also feature horn temples. What makes these models stand out from the rest?

The fact that every single point of contact with the skin consists of this beautiful natural material. Plus, the gorgeous colourways of the front can be continued across the temples.

In which other aspects are you pursuing sustainability as a company?

In our production building we have spent many years working with renewable energies wherever possible. Our heating, for instance, comes from geothermal energy.

Despite the scenic landscape, what are the advantages of manufacturing in the heart of Germany’s Eifel region?

Here you can find people who have the patience to create something extraordinary. Many of them maintain hobbies in which they restore, create or beautify things. It’s much harder to find these types of people in the big city.

Thanks for having us, Jutta.

Dabei sind natürlich alle Berührungspunkte mit der Haut aus diesem wunderbaren Naturstoff. Zudem können die schönen Farbeffekte dann auch im Bügel fortgesetzt werden.

Hier erfahrt Ihr mehr über die Brand: https://hoffmann-eyewear.com/

Brand Profile at SPECTR.

Check out our FAVR Website for a fine selection of Hoffmann’s Natural Eyewear.

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