BRITAIN - A green-fingered design graduate has launched the world's first cannabis sunglasses.
Sam Whitten, 24, and a pal came up with eco-friendly hemp shades while he was laid up with a broken leg while studying at Glasgow Caledonian University. The pair created prototype specs from hemp fibres, which are legal in the UK and are already used for making clothing, biofuel and paper.
Now they have launched the brand Hemp Eyewear to promote the green glasses after securing £25,000 through an online crowdfunding campaign.
Sam said: "The idea came after researching a special hemp composite material - hemp and flax fibres are combined with an eco-friendly resin to create a sheet material.
"After some market research, I found hemp sunglasses did not exist, therefore creating a new application for the material.
"I decided to design hemp sunglasses for three reasons; firstly because hemp is an incredibly useful plant, sunglasses have never been made before using this material and I also wanted to make something that I personally would want to have. "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."
Business partner Bradley Smith developed the branding while taking care of the graphic design for the project, with Sam working on prototype sunglasses in a makeshift workshop in his parents' home. They then showed off their design at the prestigious New Designers 2014 exhibition in London. Sam said: "New Designers 2014 was a big success as the sunglasses received a lot of attention and Hemp Eyewear was featured in an article. After this, Hemp Eyewear snowballed and has been featured on hundreds of websites and blogs, as well as receiving thousands of pre-orders."
Sam has used the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to raise the money needed to take his project onto the next level. In the last few days he reached his goal of £25,000, with hundreds of people backing the campaign. All those who pledged more than £70 to Hemp Eyewear - 185 people - will receive at least one pair of the specially-made sunglasses.
However, Sam's ambitions don't stop at sunglasses. He said: "The long-term goal for Hemp Eyewear is to develop the product line by creating more styles of sunglasses, as well as a 100 per cent hemp clothing line. In the future I plan to use hemp in furniture and also in architecture.
"I think its important to promote not just sustainable fashion, but sustainable everything. If its 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. Designing hemp sunglasses is great as it's a product everyone can relate to and there's an element of 'cool' surrounding them which encourages the idea that sustainability can be cool too."
The Mirror/Oct. 4, 2014
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