When you throw away a pair of sunnies, what do you think happens to them? Truth&All is a new, biodegradable sunglasses brand from Singapore that wants to remove plastic from the fashion cycle. They told us how.
Stylish, functional and, most of all, eco-friendly, Truth&All is a sunglasses label producing fashion-forward biodegradable specs. Founded in Singapore by eco-conscious couple Gemma Vincent and David Hearn, the duo plan to take recycling in the fashion industry to the next level – by removing plastics from the process in the first place. Growing up in Queensland, Australia, Gemma relates how she’d never thought too much about the plastic pollution problem until travelling to Southeast Asia where, suddenly, it became an issue impossible to ignore. “It was very confronting for us, and on our first holiday to Malaysia, we came up with the idea of Truth&All,” says Gemma. “Overnight, we went from being quite consumer happy, purchasing things with our blinkers on, to becoming conscious consumers. Literally seeing the devastation of this beautiful place by our overconsumption of plastic was the driver for us. I think that was the point where we went, ‘Okay, what can we do?’”
It didn’t take them long to focus on accessories as a category. “Fashion is just so intrinsically linked these days to who we are as a person, what we believe in and what we stand for,” explains Gemma. “We wanted to see whether it was possible to have a consumer purchase that left a net positive impact on the world.” To begin with, they thought the best route to follow might be the more well-trodden one of recycling. “Originally, we thought of taking the plastic out of the ocean and repurposing it. But, the more we looked into sustainability, we realised, if there is an alternative to plastic, we shouldn’t be using plastic at all. We need to break the plastic addiction, not just recycle it. So, that’s why we came eventually all the way around to ‘maybe we could do sunglasses.’”
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Through trial, error, and plenty of research, the pair eventually landed on the piece of the puzzle that would allow them to make stylish sunnies that were 100% biodegradable. “We were thinking of wood, then bamboo, but you can’t get the same styles and colours. Then, we started looking into what you can make sunglasses out of, and we discovered the M 49. material made by Italian company Mazzucchelli. Acetate is already quite eco-friendly: it’s made with cotton and wood, but then plasticisers are added. The M 49 has a natural alternative to plasticisers, meaning it’s 100% biodegradable, which is amazing. We get the same aesthetic and style that you can get from normal acetate, but without compromising the earth.”
Gemma and David take that material and transform it from raw product to finished item in as eco-friendly a way as possible. “We saw a few different manufacturers and chose to go with a small, Greek family-run business to handmake our glasses,” says Gemma. And, from there, each part of the journey has been assessed to make it as green as it can be. “The packaging, the box, the cloth, the case, even shipping labels are recycled,” she explains. DHL is their choice of courier because of their ‘go green initiative,’ where they pay a little extra to offset their carbon footprint, and they also give 15% of their profit back to cleaning plastic out of the ocean, partnering with companies like the Sea Monkey Project to do so. They plan to keep their range nimble. “Our range is smaller because we’re a self-funded startup. So, we’ve got four different styles, but they come in four or five colours each. And, in terms of how we compare to other brands, we don’t have the overheads. We don’t have any shareholders. The only shareholders are our customers, so we’re completely answerable to them. And I love the fact that we can actually put it back to the people, that truth and all, and ask, ‘What styles do you like?’ They can contribute to the next range.”
Having launched in June, the pair now sell online via their own website as well as via other retailers across Singapore. For them, doing business in Singapore has been an asset. “I think it’s the ideal place to launch a business. There’s lots of support, and that helps when you’re trying to build a brand,” explains Gemma. “We’re a member of the conscious platform Green is the New Black, which is fantastic.” Looking forward to the future, they hope to move on to prescription lenses, and there are plans afoot to expand their market to Australia, and head west to countries like England and America. It’s all part of a plan to spread awareness of the urgent need for a complete change in habits – in both consumers and manufacturers. “On a personal level, it comes down to literally everything,” urges Gemma. “By 2050, there’ll be more plastic than fish in the sea. It’s not always the easiest or most convenient thing, but if everyone’s trying, then we’re going to be making a difference. You don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. You need millions of people doing everything imperfectly.”