The Future’s So Bright You Might Need Biodegradable Sunglasses

Maiyet combines luxe design with an eco-design, just in time for Earth Day

What’s that? Getty Images

Just because you want to live a green life (or at least dress appropriately for Earth Day on April 22) doesn’t mean that you should have to forego good design. And it also doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in luxury accessories.

That’s the point Maiyet is looking to prove with their latest range of shades. Each pair is handmade in Japan and the hardware on the chunky acetate is of the subtle variety, giving the simple glasses an elevated feel. The shape, an oversized rounded square, is ideal for hiding tired eyes or just maintaining an air of mystery.

Maiyet’s biodegradable sunglasses. Courtesy Maiyet

So where does the eco-friendly detail come into play? Well, that aforementioned acetate is actually 100 percent biodegradable. Mazzucchelli, a six-generation optical supplier, has manufactured a specific type of cellulose acetate for Maiyet that will be easily decomposed.

Offered in three simple colors, including a basic black, classic amber tortoiseshell and a light ochre tortoiseshell, each of the frames retail for $195. They were carefully designed by Lily Kwong, the model turned landscape architect and Rich Walker, a master in eyeglass design. Kwong (whose cousin is Joseph Altuzarra) is a frequent collaborator with Maiyet, having previously worked with them on a capsule collection; she was even tasked to build a “living” plant wall in Maiyet’s Soho flagship store.

Up close and personal with Shades by Maiyet. Courtesy Maiyet

She dug through Walker’s archive of vintage glasses to help create this pair. “We set out to create a sustainable frame that captured the timelessness and elegance of Maiyet. The frames are handmade in a family-run factory in Japan, and you can feel the quality and attention to detail in every piece,” she said.

Maiyet is one of those brands that seamlessly combines eco sensibilities with luxury aesthetics. They employ specialized artisans in places such as India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Peru and Bolivia to knit sweaters, weave silk, embroider dresses, block print t-shirts and so on. The company aims to source sustainable materials, including cashmere, and they are often recognized for their green efforts.

“We believe emphatically in sustainability and therefore source materials which promote environmental safety and awareness,” explained Paul van Zyl, co-founder of Maiyet, on this new style.

The classic tortoiseshell style. Courtesy Maiyet

Though this isn’t Maiyet’s first foray into eyewear—it follows a 2015 eyewear collaboration with Warby Parker—it does feature an impressive commitment to being eco-chic.