We take pride in creating real, quality eyewear. At the core of auór is the handmade production of our premium cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is a renewable non petroleum hypoallergenic plant-based plastic derived from natural cotton fibres and wood pulp. It is also important to us that the materials we use to produce our eyewear don’t have to travel far, so all of our acetate is made and produced in Italy by Mazzucchelli - a family owned company spanning over six generations and in operation since 1849. For some of our frames we also use La/Es cellulose acetate, which is based in the province of Como, Italy. Like Mazzucchelli, La/Es has a rich history and has been in operation since 1956, with a strong history in the extrusion process of cellulose acetate. Many industry experts consider cellulose acetate to be the best material for eyewear, with Italy being the front runners for producing the best premium high-quality eyewear in the world.
As mentioned, cellulose acetate is made from wood pulp and cotton linters, which is a plant-based renewable resource. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, are derived from petrochemicals, which are obtained from fossil crude oil, coal or natural gas. Cellulose acetate is also biodegradable. Given the right chemical conditions, the biopolymer’s cellulose backbone can be biodegraded by cellulose enzymes. In highly biologically active soil, cellulose acetate fibres can completely biodegrade in 4–9 months. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, can hang around in the environment for hundreds of years. Each year, 400 million tons of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single-use.
Here’s a break down of the many different characteristics that make cellulose acetate stand out from other other plastics:
Strength - The material was introduced in the 1940s as an alternative to existing plastics which were brittle and poor quality. The cellulose structure of the material makes it incredibly strong, capable of handling everyday use and a lot of wear.
Flexibility - This plastic is more flexible than other materials. It’s less likely to break under pressure because of its ability to bend and resist. This flexibility ensures your glasses can stand up to regular rough use without issues.
Customisability - Acetate retains a distinct advantage that most injection plastics don’t have - customisability. Injection plastics and all thermo-set plastics are made with a mould. After they are created, it’s not possible to modify their shape. In comparison, you can shape, modify, customise and colour cellulose acetate in any way to get a unique design. This extends to the end customer in that the finished eyewear can also be adjusted or shaped to create a more comfortable and individual fit.
Strong and flexible, cellulose acetate allows us to create eyewear that lasts a lifetime, helping to curb excessive consumption and pollution; and the durability of the material ensures our eyewear can be refurbished over time, kept as a collectible and passed on as a heirloom.
You can view the making of our Mazzucchelli cellulose acetate in the video below:
Our lenses are made by Italian company Divel Italia, which is very close to our production house in Italy. Divel Italia is also an independent organisation, established in the mid 20th Century, and main global players in the high-end eyewear sector. Auór lenses are made from a technical plastic called CR39 which is the most commonly used plastic for lenses on the market because of its shatter resistant qualities, clear vision and reliability.
The arms of our frames are made with a strong fine wire which is inserted into the length of the arms acetate. This gives the frame immense stability, which also allows the arms to be fitted by an optometrist for ultimate comfort.
The hinges on our frames are the only component made outside of Italy. They are crafted in Germany with a triple barrel function for stability. The choice to use German hinges was made for quality reasons, as the triple barrel hinge was not available in Italy and allows for a far stronger overall frame.
Our design vision is always to create beautiful, minimal and simple eyewear made from the best and most responsible materials. We oversee every single step of the process from start to finish with our makers in Italy to ensure that we only ever produce eyewear that is meticulously constructed and executed.
We begin with our own historical research, observations and creative practices to conceptualise our designs. Our vision is very much connected to honouring the past while provoking the future. Once our designs are created, they are sent to our production team in Italy who provide modified drawings we review, revise and refine. The production house then makes a prototype that we test for fit, size, shape and proportion with extensive road tests. We then undergo colour sampling with our updated designs before orders are checked off and quality controlled.
The process to create auór eyewear is very time and labor intensive. The acetate firstly arrives in sheets from Mazuchelli to our production house. It is then cut, filed, sanded, tumbled, assembled and polished using a traditional hand crafting process. From start to finish there are 70 steps in total and it can take between 5-15 days to make a single pair of frames.
Auór sunglasses are certified 100% Handmade in Italy. In order to obtain that certification, a high percentage of materials used to make our eyewear must come from Italy. The handcrafting and assembly must also meet Italian work safety standards and wages. This accreditation ensures that our eyewear is made using supreme handmade techniques and standards that ensure they stand the test of time.
Working closely with our makers is fundamental to our own integrity, but also ensures that the product is produced the way we want it. We have found Italian suppliers whose philosophy mirrors ours, with small runs of quality handcrafted eyewear. Trust is an important thing, for both production and supply chain transparency. Working closely with our team in Italy allows us to know that our materials are ethically sourced, and our eyewear and accessories are produced in an environment that respects workers’ fundamental rights, free from gender inequality and discrimination.
There isn’t a lot of transparency in the eyewear industry. Without transparency and traceability, we think that it is impossible to trust that a company’s ethics are legitimate. The move toward supply chain transparency in the global fashion industry has been on the rise over recent years, but in the eyewear world, many companies avoid disclosing their material sources, manufacturers and other suppliers.
Ethical fashion for us, at its heart, is about people and rewiring patterns of consumption. This means thinking about ethical practices in everything we do and buy. Choosing fewer, quality items that are made to last. For auór that’s extremely important. This extends through to labour rights and sustainability in production. We do short runs of everything we make or source and also work with our makers to recycle the offcuts from our eyewear production to make our hoop earrings. At auór, we are committed to supply chain transparency and fair practice, and we know our products are made with ethical sourcing and production.