Hemp is the perfect manufacturing material. It’s sustainable, it’s eco-friendly, and it can grow almost anywhere — and without pesticides. So it comes as no surprise that there all sorts of products are made with hemp, from clothing and jewelry to paper and building materials. But in 2014, Sam Whitten, a product design student in Glasgow, noticed a big gap in the hemp market: sunglasses. So he decided to start his own company, Hemp Eyewear, the world’s first cannabis sunglasses.
The first Hemp Eyewear prototypes were made by hand at Whitten’s school. After graduating, he turned his garage into a makeshift workshop and used his friends to test out his products. Through a successful Kickstarter campaign, Whitten and his business partner Bradley Smith raised over $46,000 dollars to create their sustainable, eco-friendly glasses company, turning their idea into reality, and achieving their goal of promoting hemp as a renewable resource through innovative design.
Today, Hemp Eyewear utilizes leading-edge sustainable technology and traditional techniques to manufacture their glasses — and they do a great job making this 100-step, 100 percent ethical process look extremely easy. Each frame is a handcrafted composite of hemp and flax fibers built at their studio in an old biscuit factory in Edinburgh, Scotland. Because they’re made from hemp, the glasses are both strong and lightweight; while the average pair of Wayfarer sunglasses weighs more than 1.5 ounces, Hemp Eyewear pair weighs less than half that.
Whether you have a prescription or just need a new pair of sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, Hemp Eyewear’s Carl Zeiss lenses have an unbeatable reputation and are made from more than 70 percent biological materials. They’re thin and scratch-resistant and can be made to fit any prescription, including single vision, progressive/bi-focal, and transitional lenses.
Both men and women can choose from five different stylish Hemp Eyewear frames, from the classic Crosby to the ultra-mod Hamburg to the on-trend Lotus. The retro Dean style is based on the most successful frame shape of all time, while Concord is inspired by the classic Aviators.
And because of their special production technique, every pair is completely unique; no two fiber patterns is the same.
The glasses are recyclable and even the packaging is sustainable. And Hemp Eyewear isn’t just a glasses company — they also sells phone cases and rucksacks.
Since launching in 2014, Hemp Eyewear has attracted attention from Gizmodo, Trendhunter and Design Milk. They recently launched a second Kickstarter campaign to raise money for new machinery, which will let the company create the sunglasses completely in-house. Five percent of the profits from the campaign will go to support the Ocean Cleanup project, which is developing advanced technologies to rid world’s oceans of plastic.
TELL US, would you wear these hemp shades?