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  • Barry Samaha

How Kering Eyewear Is Striving to Become Ecologically Sustainable

Kering Eyewear is making moves to become one of the leading players in the sustainability movement sweeping fashion. The French firm, under the umbrella of Kering Group, has partnered with Bio-on, an Italian company that develops and researchers renewable materials, specifically bioplastics. Both companies aim to create biodegradable spectacles in the effort to change the practices of the industry as a whole.

“The partnership with Bio-on represents a tangible sign of Kering Eyewear's attention to sustainability and its desire to bring innovation to a consolidated industry,” said Roberto Vedovotto, Kering Eyewear’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “In our Group, we strongly believe that sustainable business is smart business. The materials developed by Bio-on, 100 percent natural and biodegradable, will be a revolution in the eyewear industry and completely dovetail our unique approach to the market, as well as our desire to offer increasingly high quality and innovative products.”

The fact that such a big conglomerate, with a stable of high-profile fashion brands in its roster, is pushing for a more eco-conscious mindset could inevitably lead to drastic changes. For a long time, sustainability has been the purview of relatively smaller labels (like Eileen Fisher, People Tree and Reformation) that may not have the global reach to truly cause a shift. But Kering Eyewear is far from diminutive, housing names like Saint Laurent, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen. It has the resources and notoriety to impact the industry in a profound way—a sentiment that Vedovotto not only recognizes but is also enforcing.

“In the luxury sector, sustainability and environmental awareness are no longer an option, they are a must,” he said.

Through this alliance with Bio-on, Kering Eyewear will provide design teams materials made of PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates), a polymer derived from agricultural waste. It will also monitor and certify the use of cellulose acetate, a synthetic fiber that is the most commonly used substance in eyeglasses and sunglasses. With these resources at their disposable, fashion designers are able to make informed decisions and manufacture pieces that look good and better the environment, too.

“Thanks to this collaboration, we are launching a new era in the eyewear world” said Marco Astorri, Bio-on’s chairman and CEO. “The union of creativity and technology will give rise to items with absolutely innovative characteristics. Our laboratories and scientists will develop a vast range of new formulations, giving free rein to the creativity of the most discerning designers.”

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