Sam Whitten, a designer from Broughton, England, has come up with a new way to wear hemp. Hemp, high-growing varieties of the cannabis plant, has been used in many applications including paper and clothes. Now, 24-year-old Whitten created eco-friendly sunglasses made of hemp.
Whitten studied international product design at the Glasgow Caledonian University. Just last year, he was nursing a broken leg and that’s when he came up with the idea of using hemp as a frame for sunglasses, according to The Southern Reporter UK.
“The idea came after researching a special hemp composite material – hemp and flax fibers are combined with an eco-friendly resin to create a sheet material. After some market research I found there did not exist any hemp sunglasses, therefore creating a new application for the material.”
Running with his new idea, he created prototype glasses in a makeshift workshop in his parents’ house. He then presented the new product at the New Designers 2014 exhibition held in London last July. Whitten’s product was a big success, and he has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds in order to manufacture the hemp sunglasses in a large scale.
According to the Hemp Eyewear’s Kickstarter page, the sunglasses are coated with eco-friendly resin, which adds to the strength of the frame and makes it waterproof. The lenses are polarized and made with bio material, making the product biodegradable and recyclable. Whitten, together with his fellow student Bradley Smith, aimed to raise £25,000 ($40,000) for the large production of their product. As of writing, they have already raised £27, 457 ($43,000) with 12 days to go.
“Throughout my study I have always liked creating different products which I haven’t seen before. Hemp sunglasses is a product which falls into this category and the potential success of the product is massive as hemp is an ever-growing industry.”
According to Mirror UK, Whitten said that Hemp Eyewear is just the beginning. Aside from creating more styles of sunglasses, he also plans to come up with a clothing line made of 100 percent hemp. In addition, he would also like to use hemp in architecture and furniture in the future.
“If it’s not sustainable what’s the point? Fashion is a great area to promote sustainable design as everyone can see visually the materials being used. So whoever is wearing a sustainable product, is inadvertently a walking promotion for sustainable fashion.”
[Image via Hemp Eyewear Kickstarter]