Entrepreneurs Gemma Vincent and David Hearn are onto something. They think fashion shouldn’t cost us the earth and we couldn’t agree more. They started making these handmade statement sustainable sunglasses out of bio-based acetate that is oil-free, eco-friendly and biodegradable. Best of all, they are the epitome of sustainable and sexy. Introducing Truth&All…
After what was meant to be a blissful holiday to Malaysia where pristine beaches looked more like garbage bins, the husband-and-wife duo changed their lifestyles almost overnight. But burning with a desire to do more, they soon after birthed an eyewear brand that speaks their truth: eco-friendly and biodegradable materials, sustainable packaging, socially responsible partners and all.
While buying the occasional pair of sunglasses might not seem like a big deal, each pair does in fact make a big impact from the start to finish – every part of the process is conscious. To start, each pair is handmade in Greece by a family run business from sustainable materials. Even the case, the cloth, the delivery box, the delivery slip – it’s all eco-friendly. Truth&All then return 15% of their profits back into projects that deliver a more sustainable project.
After a super successful launch, Truth&All has become a bit of a buzzword in Asia (especially in Asia where they are based) and we jumped on the chance to find out why. Gemma and David ran us through their process and why sustainable sunnies are important.
GITNB: Sustainability has been reaching all corners of fashion lately but in fact eyewear, we haven’t seen a lot of. Why did you choose sunglasses to kick start your journey?
Truth&All: During a beach holiday to Malaysia, we experienced first hand the crazy effects of plastic pollution and overconsumption. The realization prompted us to rethink how we live and we went from being happy consumers to conscious consumers overnight-ish. We made the usual changes around the house but nothing seemed to be enough and we wanted to do more. Our journey started with the realization we wanted to make something sustainable. But we didn’t know what. We wanted to produce something that helped people make a statement – and really Truth&All was born from here. Eyewear is the ultimate statement people can make, and now they can do it more consciously.
Initially, we looked to re-use plastic waste. But then a quote kind of resonated with us: “If a bath is overflowing you don’t first reach for a mop, you turn off the tap.” We didn’t want to recycle the problem but instead turn the tap off. So we sourced a little known material called bio-acetate. Nine months later, here we are…
Truth&All…what’s in a name?
The name stems from a saying from our childhood. ‘Do you want the truth and all?’ which means the real truth, not the sugar-coated version. Our Truth is we are living unsustainably and the All is what we can do about it. As a collective. Small decisions making a big impact.
Your range of styles is actually small compared to other brands. What’s your secret to success while keeping your line limited?
We believe fashion shouldn’t cost us the earth – you should be able to have style without compromise. Since we aren’t fast fashion, we have chosen four classic designs to flatter the most number of face shapes with four-five colours in each design. The beautiful aspect of bio-acetate as opposed to wood or bamboo is that we can have amazing colours and the same aesthetic, look and feel of regular acetate but with a material that biodegrades.
We understand that you handmake all your sunglasses. But in fact, we’re not sure that many people know how eyewear is even made. What is the alternative to handmade and could you help us break down the sustainability process and the advantages to yours being handmade?
Molded sunglasses are made by melting small plastic pellets into a mold. They are cheap to make, of poor quality, require a significant amount of energy to produce and are of course plastic. Being handmade means our sunglasses are not mass-produced. Every pair is cut from sheets of bio-acetate and takes between 45-60 different steps to complete with numerous quality checkpoints along the way. The off-cuts from the actual cutting process are then sent back to the Italian supplier to be recycled. The end result is high-quality sunglasses frames made using bio-acetate that is 100% biodegradable, 100% recyclable and 100% eco-friendly.
And how does this process impact style and functionality? Would the average person notice a difference?
All good quality acetate frames are made by hand and cut from sheets of acetate. With our bio-acetate, we are able to have the same style and functionality as regular acetate frames but without the cost to the earth. And because they are made using high-quality material, they are also able to be heated and adjusted by your optician for a perfect fit – can’t get better than that!
So why did you choose Greece as a home for manufacturing? It sounds exotic but why go so far?
We searched around and visited several manufacturers but found a small family run business in Greece that we felt was the best fit for our brand and company. It was also imperative to partner with a socially responsible company whose values were aligned. The family subscribe to fair wages, working conditions and they abide by strict EU laws for both qualities in manufacturing and employment. They also participated in the fashion revolution movement #IMadeYourSunnnies.
Your frames are made using “Italian Mazzucchelli M49 bio-based acetate.” You lost us a bit here…what exactly is this and how does it differ from other brands?
This particular bio-acetate is made from renewable sources of cotton and wood but utilizes a natural alternative to plasticizers to make it certified as 100% biodegradable (Certified by Organic Waste System). Despite the certification as 100% biodegradable, the material has also past ISO 12870 to qualify for the production of spectacle frames. This means our frames have the same quality and durability but don’t have the same negative impact on the world that others frames do.
Your packaging is also beautiful and unique but is it as eco-friendly as the shades? Also shipping, how do you justify being an Asia-based sustainable brand but producing in Europe?
We use recycled materials for our felt and leather cases, our boxes, our microfibre cloths and even our shipping labels. We’ve also partnered with DHL for shipping because they offer a go green initiative where we pay a surcharge to offset our carbon footprint.
We love that you’re calling the glasses “dance proof” but what does that actually mean?
It means they fit well as they are comfortable and lightweight but sturdy. The case comes with an additional strap for more advanced dance moves.
We appreciate that you’re giving back to the community through a portion of your profits. To inspire people, what are some of the more interesting projects you’ve found to support or invest in?
This is a huge driver for our business. Our first partner is The Sea Monkey Project, who are a family of four like us, parents and two kids, that have been living on their yacht and sailing around South-East Asia. They make plastic recycling machines and give them to local communities, essentially creating micro-circular economies. This encourages locals to clean up the plastic, recycle it and repurpose it into products to sell, using the machines they are given.
As a brand, what #LittleGreenSteps to do you swear by that can help other fashion brands combat trends like disposable fashion and throwaway consumerism?
Fast fashion is an addiction. And to break any addiction requires a series of steps, so we recommend starting small. As small decisions make a difference. Several small changes are potentially more impactful than one grand gesture. By doing so conscious consumption starts to integrate into your every day which creates lasting change.
What about in your everyday life. How do you try to live more consciously?
We wholeheartedly embrace all things reusable like silicone food covers, keep cups and BYO bags instead of using single-use plastic. Planning is always the key to reducing the use of plastic. At home, we also like reusing what we already have, especially when it comes to fashion so I often redesign my clothes, take the sleeves off or change the straps to give any outfit a fresh look instead of throwing it away.
We hope your groove doesn’t stop here. What’s next for Truth&All?
Whenever you launch something new there is a mixture of excitement, fear and everything in-between. We have been overwhelmed with the support over the last few weeks. We’re also selling ahead of schedule, which is fantastic news for us. The next stages are to increase distribution partners in key markets and locations, increase the range (new designs coming soon) and introduce new lines.
Elevate your summer look with Truth&All here. You can also connect with them on Facebook or Instagram. If you’re in Singapore, you can head to @shopzerrin above Social Space Marina One and @thegreencollectivesg in Funan.