New eco-conscious collection from LE SPECS 

Australian eyewear mainstays LE SPECS have built a strong following, especially among young wearers, over the past few years. With the new Le Sustain Collection, the youthful label with roots in the surfing hotbed Bondi Beach meets the rising demand for sustainably manufactured products. The environmental focus applies on several levels: From reduction of manufacturing waste to implementation of recycled materials. In this Collection Check, the label’s Creative Director Hamish Tame explains the two-year development process and its overall impact on LE SPECS.

Hello, Hamish, with Le Sustain you’re taking a step towards a sustainable future. What was the inspiration?

The concept behind Le Sustain is to promote conversation within the eyewear industry and with our consumers on how we can create a more sustainable future together.[DV1] 

What is your personal take on this topic?

For me, the sustainability path is our only future. As a leading brand for millennials and Gen-Z, it is our responsibility to use our platform and voice in the industry to help make a change for the better for generations to come.  

How did you translate this approach on a product level?

Our motivation behind the Le Sustain collection is to innovate with new manufacturing techniques and materials that reduce our environmental footprint, whilst also helping to eliminate unnecessary waste and landfill. 

Do you feel that young generations, with whom LE SPECS is very popular, are paying attention to sustainability in their purchase decisions?

Sustainability across all industries is now something younger generations have come to expect. They don’t expect us to have all the answers, but rather welcome honest conversations. And to know that we are doing our best to help solve what is a global concern. Sustainability isn’t a recent issue, but I think that social media has really allowed this generation’s voice to be heard. 

What are specific topics that young consumers are pushing for?

The specific topics and issues around sustainability can be quite endless, but I think that the overarching matters that we need to address are the natural resources we are taking from the environment and renewable alternatives. Also how we reuse and recycle and reducing pollution. 

Has the coronavirus crisis accelerated this development?

The coronavirus pandemic temporarily has taken the focus from environmental issues, but when we emerge from this crisis the conversation on sustainability will be more important than ever. 

What exactly makes the Le Sustain collection sustainable?

The frame materials used in our Le Sustain collection are carefully developed and vetted to minimize environmental impact, while the packaging is recycled and zero-waste.  

Speaking of materials, what goes inside the frames exactly?

All frames in our launch collection are made from 23% meadow grass sustainably grown and sourced from closed-loop German farms and 77% recycled pre-consumer plastic from pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry waste.

What are the specific challenges in using these materials and what are their properties compared to conventional materials?

It has indeed taken us over two years of research and development to work with our manufacturing partners to overcome the technical challenges of using new materials such as these. Aesthetically there are limitations with the colors and textures available with the materials, which we have worked around by promoting the texture as a feature, rather than trying to hide it. The material is softer than polycarbonate or TR90, so all temples are reinforced with wire cores to ensure that the frame doesn’t become warped or misshapen. 

The resulting look is really coherent. How many models are in the collection?

Our launch collection features three styles and seven pieces, with an additional eleven pieces launching January 2021.

Besides the materials, in which segments do you conserve resources?

In a move that may seem radical to the eyewear industry, the entire collection is waste and plastic polybag free. Each sunglass is securely packaged in a microfiber pouch made from recycled water bottles, which is then packed inside a recycled cardboard box printed with soy-based ink. We have comprehensively tested the packaging in comparison to polybags to ensure that the frames cannot be damaged in transit. We also know that we will need to work with both our retailer partners and consumers on shifting the mindsets that ‘plastic polybags are a necessity’. 

In terms of mindsets, do you see the customer’s desire for sustainable products as a trend or permanent shift?

I believe that the demand for sustainability from consumers will become an expectation, not an option. 

Are you continuing on this path at LE SPECS?

For everyone at LE SPECS, sustainability in both our products and packaging is the way forward. This is an issue that is too enormous and too important for us to ignore, or not play our part in creating a solution. We are currently working on new sustainable initiatives that will be rolled out across or mainline and optical collections over the coming seasons.  

Find out more about the Brand Le Specs: https://lespecs.com/

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