Challenging the societal paradigms that fashion has to be fast and punk rock is antisocial, Childe Eyewear is an Australian brand creating premium hand made eyewear inspired by artists, musicians and activists.
The label combines culture, community and artisanal made sunglasses for the eco-conscious whilst redefining the archetype amongst an industry of peers who's motto seems to read between the lines of 'profit over planet'.
The future is nature.
The Childe range of hand made Bio Acetate Eyewear frames are made from 100% bio-degradable Italian Mazzucchelli M49 Bio-Acetate which is made from organic compounds of wood and cotton pulp fibres and built to last a lifetime!
Their Plant Based Childe WiLDe Sunglasses frames are made from a plant based grilamid polymer made from 61% renewable resources. This polymer is petrochemical free and dramatically reduces carbon emissions.
The brands considered packaging is plastic free, utilising plant based inks, cardboard packaging, compostable mailer bags and their sunglass pouches are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Slow Journal magazine's Jane Deane caught up with founder Jon Laurenson to find out more about the eyewear label that's turning the industry on its head. The Slow Journal is an independent Australian Magazine about living slowly and sustainably.
Tell us about your vision for Childe Eyewear in an industry that thrives on planned obsolescence?
My vision for Childe is to create an eco sensitive and environmentally conscious eyewear fashion brand. The objective is to be sustainable in both our production process and for the consumers of our product.
I want to make eyewear that is comfortable and looks great while also standing the test of time by being durable to peoples active lifestyles.
The idea of Childe is to create quality eyewear that people can trust is going to be their favourite pair of sunglasses for years and years and not just seasonally. This reality needs to come from design aesthetic and the quality of materials used to build the frames and lenses.
Currently we use 2 eco-sensitive frame options -
Our Childe Wilde collection is a plant based polymer that is made from castor oil and 61% renewable resources. The biggest advantage of this product is it is a huge reduction of carbon emissions in the production process as its not created from petroleum based products. It's also very lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear.
The Childe Hand Made Bio collection is made from premium Italian Bio acetate called Mazzuchelli M49 which is bio-degradable and recyclable under industrial conditioning. This Bio-acetate is made from cotton and wood pulp fibres and organic binding compounds to produce an eyewear frame that lasts a lifetime. This production process also creates some really interesting colours within the compound so it's fun to make and wear iconic eyewear statements with this material.
Overall, I think the sunglass industry has a long way to go to be more sustainable but we can only do the best with what is available right now.
I know there is more progressive and more sustainable materials out there but its sometimes very hard for the smaller brands like us to get hold of these more progressive materials in small quantities.
Recently I met with a friend about potentially manufacturing acetate with Seaweed but the content is too salty at the moment. I feel like this can be overcome if we had the money to research this option. I’d like to think hemp is a very real option to make Bio-Acetate too but haven’t found this option yet.
Bio and eco lens options are becoming available now from the major lens manufacturers.
We launch our plant based bio lens in our products next month and we are one fo the first brands globally to use and offer these lenses.
Most of all though sustainable needs to be durable so people get a quality product that lasts firstly and then can be biodegradable or recycled into another useful product when its lifespan is over.
You've teamed up with fellow Byron company Sunglass Fix to offer consumers a simple lens replacement solution, how does that work?
Well we all know sometimes lenses can be scratched by the usual wear and tear while simply living your best life ha ha.
Everyone at some point is guilty of neglecting their eyewear by cleaning with a salty or sandy tee shirt, having your sunglasses float around your handbag, car or tool box or by simply dropping your sunglasses. We totally understand these things happen but it shouldn't be the end of your favourite pair of shades.
Enter our friends up the road The Sunglass Fix who provide a sustainable lens replacement option so you can replace scratched lenses and keep wearing your favourite pair of sunglasses. The Sunglass Fix business model is simply brilliant and literally saves millions of frames from ending up in landfill every year. Now that is truly sustainable!
We collaborated with the Sunglass Fix to form #childeforlife and offer replacement lenses FREE to our customers for the first 12 months to provide a more sustainable eyewear experience. After 12 months you can also purchase new lenses at a very reasonable cost.
Combine Childe for Life with our eco frames and lenses and we are offering one the most eco considered and sustainable eyewear products on the market.
Some brands in our industry would argue that this is slowing down the capacity to sell more sunglasses by replacing lenses. We see it as giving our customers Childe eyewear greater lifespan without waste and therefore our products and brand can be appreciated to their absolute full capability to provide ultimate customer satisfaction and enjoyment.
Designed in Byron and made in Italy, tell us about your connection to Italian artisans and why you have opted to manufacture overseas?
I was very lucky to learn the eyewear process thanks to my employment with Arnette sunglasses in the 90’s with the brands founder/designers Greg Arnette, his son Kip Arnette and Arnette CEO Bruce Beach. They are legends in the sunglass game from California but they always manufactured in Italy as a priority.
Greg, Kip and Bruce introduced me to the Italian boutique manufacturers who I stayed connected with during our time in our last brand Electric Visual from 2000-2010. Kip, Bruce and myself were among the co-founders of Electric Viasual.
The Italians are renowned for their tooling and engineering. Eyewear engineering and hand made detailing is one of their specialities. Obviously Italians are renowned fashionistas too. I especially like how much pride they have in their work so the results are always exceptional. The Italian eyewear is always a beautiful fit as they don't miss that millimetre of detail that is required to make the fit excellent.
At the end of the day it's about creating good products with good people and I believe relationships are everything. For me the Italian families that we work with are loyal, fun and very good at bringing my sunglass concepts to life in the absolute best quality.
More than just a pair of 'sunnies' you've created a culture and community around the Childe brand. What do you ultimately want people to feel when they invest in a pair of Childe sunglasses?
We want people to feel they have purchased a product that is made with love, feels good and is a part of their persona while also being responsible to the environment and future of our planet and next generation.
We would love people to feel that they are now part of the Childe FAMILIA community and Childe movement. Childe is inclusive, progressive and outspoken about our morals, objectives and livelihood that can help others too.
We support positive mental health initiatives through live music and with our customer and community support it enables us to help support and improve the environments ability to evolve positively in the future.
We also want Childe to ensure people have more fun in the sun with quality sun protection.
Thanks to Jane Deane of The Slow Journal for the interview.
The Slow Journal is an independent Australian magazine about slow living and sustainability
You can also follow Jane growing happy food @theorchardco