An expanding offer of sustainable materials 

Author: Clodagh Norton

Interview of the Month
July 09, 2021

Nicola Zotta, President and CEO of Marchon Eyewear

Commitment to sustainability has become a point of focus across the optical industry. At Marchon, developments have included the introduction of new materials such as Eastman Acetate Renew, produced from bio-based and certified recycled materials. 2020Europe interviewed Nicola Zotta, President and CEO of Marchon Eyewear, Inc. to find out more about the breadth of their sustainable commitments and aspirations moving ahead.

Q: Could you share with us the key development at Marchon regarding sustainability initiatives since 2020.

A: Marchon has been committed for some time to identifying and incorporating new materials into our eyewear manufacturing process that are better for our planet. Lately, we have been working on a variety of products leveraging new, alternative materials for our eyewear brands, including Upcycled Plastic, Plant-Based Resin and Acetate Renew. Upcycled Plastic is produced through a new method where five recycled plastic water bottles are repurposed, or “upcycled” into a frame. The fabrication process begins with the plastic bottles being manually separated and selected. Next, the recycled waste is washed thoroughly and cut into chips. The chips are pressed into small pellets, then melted down and injected into a frame. We have incorporated Upcycled Plastic into eyewear collections from Dragon and Lacoste. We have been using 45% Plant-Based Resin, a natural, bio-based plastic as a smarter, cleaner alternative to standard petroleum-based plastic. The material we use comes from castor bean oil, a highly resilient and renewable plant resource.  The process begins when the castor plants are harvested for their beans. Oil is pressed from the beans and turned into pellets which are melted and injected into eyewear frames. Plant-Based Resin is available in the Nike Vision, Dragon, Pure Eyewear, Longchamp, Lacoste and Skaga eyewear collections. In Fall 2020, we announced that Marchon would be the first eyewear company to produce and sell frames using Eastman Acetate Renew, a fully sustainable material produced via Eastman’s innovative carbon renewal technology. Acetate Renew is made from bio-based and certified recycled materials. In addition to having approximately 40% certified recycled content and 60% bio-based content, Acetate Renew reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to traditional acetate. We are excited to work with this new material because unlike other sustainable alternatives, Acetate Renew is indistinguishable from classic acetate, assuring wearers of the high quality and premium styles they expect from Marchon Eyewear.  

Q: Remind us of the details of the partnership announced with Eastman for sustainable acetate and how this material is now appearing across Marchon’s portfolio of brands during 2021?

A: We are proud to be the first eyewear company to put the Eastman Acetate Renew into the market. We will begin in June with the launch of a luxury sunglass collection for one of our larger licensed brands, produced in our own Italian factory. From there, we will incorporate Acetate Renew into more Marchon products where we can. We are looking forward to using this high-quality material throughout our collections as supply becomes more widely available. Additionally, our commitment goes beyond just sourcing and using the Eastman Acetate Renew material. We are pleased to becoming a part of the cycle of sustainability by channelling the scrap from our production back to Eastman to become Acetate Renew.

\\ The new Lanvin LNV605S in colour tortoiseshell

Q: Is there opportunity for major players in the industry to take further action towards a more socially responsible and sustainable future for the eyewear business? How do you envisage that future?

A: The technology around more sustainable materials has improved significantly over the years. Plant-Based Resin is a good example for that, it is now a premium material with competitive costs, so it makes sense for Marchon to use it across our portfolio. We initially started using Plant-Based Resin on brands such as Nike, Lacoste and Dragon, but as of 2020 it has now become our standard injection material for all new plastic styles across all brands.

Q: I understand that Marchon Eyewear already has projects in place in the us as regards social responsibility and a link up with an empowerment program and non profit glam4good? Can you tell is about this initiative?

A: Marchon is proud to give back to our local communities through partnerships with VSP Global’s charity platform, Eyes of Hope, and Glam4Good. In February, our proprietary brand, Marchon NYC, announced a partnership with GLAM4GOOD, the award-winning empowerment platform and non-profit organization. We are thrilled to work with GLAM4GOOD and appreciate their dedication to social impact and empowerment through style. GLAM4GOOD’s charitable programs are created to provide recipients with a variety of self-esteem enhancing forms of support including new clothing, accessories, beauty products, personal care items and confidence building services and experiences. Marchon NYC, on behalf of Marchon, will donate optical frames and sunglasses, as well as funding and access to no-cost vision care through VSP Eyes of Hope. By providing high-quality eyewear from Marchon NYC, we are confident this partnership will be impactful, offering a necessity to those in need.

Q: In 2021, what has been your observation of changes to your customers needs around the world as they manage new realities and big retail challenges as the pandemic situation continues to cause difficulties and disruption.

A: We are off to a good start to 2021. While Covid-19 continues to be an issue worldwide, the optical channel is performing well amidst second/third waves and restrictions/lockdowns. People continue to need prescription eyewear and will look to their eyecare providers. Our customers want to offer their consumers the best product, services and value. At Marchon, we closely following consumer demands and shifting trends while executing with speed to have the right brands and products available at the right price. We are continuously enhancing our brand and product offerings to ensure we have a world class portfolio of Fashion, Lifestyle and Performance brands at premium price points that will appeal broadly to their consumers. To that end, we have launched two new brands to the market this year- Lanvin and Converse- each speaking to a different audience. We are very excited about the Lanvin eyewear collection. The house of Lanvin has a unique history and heritage and that, together with creative director Bruno Sialelli’s fresh vision for the brand, creates a design language that is very distinctive compared to what is in the market right now. The Lanvin eyewear was designed with unexpected details and unique silhouettes that will appeal to customers looking for a fashion-forward look with expert craftsmanship.  So far, the brand has had a successful first quarter.  We have a compelling advertising campaign featuring Paris Hilton which is resonating with customers and consumers throughout the globe. The Converse eyewear launch is also off to a strong start. It’s currently in over 1600 doors worldwide and growing and on our digital retail platforms. With Converse we are able to connect to a younger consumer target, ages 12 – 35. Converse is the original brand of youth culture, with its rich 110-year heritage and the global adoption of its classic and accessible sneakers. To create the collection our designers took cues from the brand’s legacy in footwear and incorporated the key brand details into seven collection stories for both optical and sun. 

\\ Optical model Lanvin LNV2600

Q: How has Marchon adjusted to this environment to support customers and meet their needs with new services

A: This year has brought challenges that most businesses could never have planned for. COVID-19 has changed how the world works and how we do business. The cancellation of Trade Fairs, Market Weeks, and regular appointments at practices due to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing rules created a need for a new way to sell eyewear. To continue to create our future and through continuous improvement and innovation to support our customers we’ve adapted to our current environment to develop new digital tools such as Marchon’s Global Eyewear Marketplace (GEM)—a web-based B2B commerce platform that allows sales teams to engage and provide a seamless buying experience with our customers. The tool allows our sales teams to host live meetings with customers via video conference calls to introduce new collections and collect orders. Customers have virtual access to the Marchon brand portfolio, educational videos, and enhanced product views—zoom features, 360°, and Virtual Try-On technology. Tools such as this have allowed us to stay connected to our customers’ needs, meet consumer desire for new product and keep our business growing.

Q: Finally what do you believe is the outlook for the autumn/winter 21/22 season? How does Marchon foresee development in the “new normal” when it comes to the future growth and success of the company?

A: We know that people will continue to have a need for prescription eyewear and we will continue to offer an assortment of products across all brands and price points to meet their demand. We understand that our customers are particularly looking for value, i.e. the right, high quality, in their minds justifies price. We have the right portfolio of brands to cater to those different needs and are focused on investing in and growing key license brands including Nike, Salvatore Ferragamo, Longchamp, Lacoste, Nautica and Columbia as well as support our proprietary brands Dragon, Flexon, and Pure. Additionally, we are looking to grow our sales in the US, Brazil and Mexico, key European markets like France, Germany and Spain and in the larger markets of Asia. After a very strong start into 2021 that exceeded even the beginning of 2019, one of our strongest years in the books, we are optimistic about the Fall/Winter 21/22 season. Our collections across the portfolio looking very strong and in sync with what both our customers and their patients/shoppers are looking for.

\\ Rebound Converse CV5008

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