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  • Luisa Zargani

The Maker of Dior, Stella McCartney Eyewear Is Advancing Sustainable Innovation

Italian eyewear producer Thélios plans to roll out frames in recycled acetate in 2022.

A Stella McCartney model for spring 2021

courtesy image

MILAN — Thélios is making strides in advancing sustainability in the eyewear industry.

The Italian eyewear maker revealed Tuesday it has partnered with Mazzucchelli 1849, a leading acetate sheet manufacturer, and with specialty materials provider Eastman – a pioneer in molecular recycling.

This confirms a WWD report last month, when Thélios chief executive officer Giovanni Zoppas said in an interview that the company was mapping out a project with two players and that in 2022 it planned to employ acetate that is recyclable.

“Sustainability has become a business imperative,” said Carlo Roni, R&D director of Thélios, revealing the partnership. “We have chosen to team up with the best in class players — Mazzucchelli for acetate transformation and Eastman for molecular recycling — to work jointly on the development of new sustainable materials, which we hope will drive change in our industry.”

Aiming at reducing the environmental impact of acetate frames to a minimum, the partners are jointly exploring a series of eco-responsible formulas, using certified recycled content and bio-sourced materials.

Based on Eastman Acetate Renew, these new formulas will match both the technical and aesthetic qualities of traditional acetates, while being highly sustainable. Via its Advanced Circular Recycling technologies, Eastman produces circular products that are certified by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification by mass balance allocation.

“This project is part of a sustainability path that Mazzucchelli has been pursuing for several years. We believe in sustainability and we are proud to be part of this virtuous cycle together with Eastman and Thélios,” remarked Giovanni Orsi Mazzucchelli, chairman and shareholder of Mazzucchelli 1849. “It is thanks to the commitment of each individual player that it will be possible to achieve a full sustainable transformation of the eyewear industry.”

Thélios became operational in 2018, a joint venture between LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has a 51 percent stake, and storied Italian eyewear-maker Marcolin owning the remainder. LVMH also owns a 10 percent stake in Marcolin.

Since its inception, Thélios has grown to produce and distribute eyewear collections for Celine; Loewe; Kenzo; Fenty; Fred; Berluti, and Rimowa. In addition to Dior, it is also launching Stella McCartney’s collection for spring.

“Thélios is a dynamic project, and with Stella McCartney we want to go beyond [the norm], we want to use recyclable materials,” Zoppas told WWD last month, adding that it was key to enter into the circular economy.

The collection reflects the namesake designer’s commitment to eco-responsibility, and has allowed Thélios to take significant steps in this direction. Among the innovations cited by Zoppas, the lenses are composed of 40 percent bio-based content from castor oil. The frames are made using bio-acetate, a more ecological formula containing bio-based content derived from wood and cotton seeds alongside plant-based plasticizers. The frames have obtained the Environmental Claim Validation from UL, validating their bio-based content composition.

Thélios is also working on materials, packaging and labeling, mindful of Gen Z consumers and their expectations.

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