Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses

overall rating:

1

planets

Lydia Dai
7/14/2021
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Oakley is currently one of the most prominent designer eyewear brands on the market and the Holbrook model is its all-time best-seller. It is sold for around 150-200 USD. This pair of sunglasses is tailored towards an active lifestyle and is promoted by top sports athletes. Together with its parent company, multinational corporation giant Luxottica, Oakley has a considerable influence in the eyewear industry. Fortunately, Luxottica seems to be genuinely committing to sustainability, with clearly defined sustainability practices backed up with evidence. The production is mainly overseen and controlled by Luxottica. However, it is always difficult to get into the specifics of a certain product or to gauge whether Luxottica’s impact is sufficient due to the size of the company. My main critique is the materials used for the Holbrook eyewear. The nylon frame and plutonite lenses are both highly unsustainable materials that contribute to environmental pollution. I would recommend looking into greener, local alternatives, which are likely to be cheaper as well.

What it's made of:

0

Oakley has a habit of using brand-specific jargon instead of mentioning the materials themselves. The material used for the frames of the Holbrook sunglasses is called ‘O Matter,’ which is essentially a type of nylon. Nylon is a type of thermoplastic derived from crude oil such as coal and petroleum using high pressure and heat. It is very unsustainable to produce nylon since nitrous oxide is released during the process, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2. Besides that, producing nylon also requires huge amounts of water for cooling and energy for heating. Moreover, nylon is not biodegradable, making it a very unsustainable material that is harmful to the environment throughout its entire lifecycle.
The so-called ‘Prizm’ lenses are used for Holbrook glasses. It is essentially plutonite, a high-grade polycarbonate that is a thermoplastic polymer. As a chemically produced plastic, it is not more sustainable than nylon. However, polycarbonates can be fully recycled through shredding and granulating, or reused through melting it to liquid and reforming.
Other small portions of materials such as metal are not described in detail on the website; however, for metal production, one can usually expect high temperatures for the melting process, which in turn translates to a high level of energy consumption.
The materials chosen for the Holbrook glasses do not make the glasses sustainable and therefore wouldn’t be my choice of sunglasses to purchase.

How it's made:

1.5

All Oakley glasses are manufactured by Luxottica Group, an Italy-based corporation. Very detailed information can be easily found on their website regarding the production process. This level of transparency in such a giant corporation is a great thing to start with. Before Oakley was acquired by Luxottica, the glasses are manufactured in the US only. Nowadays, whereas 70% of Oakley’s glasses are still produced in US factories, the rest are made in Luxottica facilities overseas, such as in Italy, Japan, India, and China. These facilities are all owned by Luxottica. In order to have full oversight and control over the production process, Luxottica implements a vertical business model and strict sustainability guidelines. However, shipping the pieces from overseas will likely cause additional carbon emissions.
I was surprised to find that Luxottica’s commitments to sustainable production are relatively strong and very transparent. Not only do they implement strict multiple-stage evaluations to qualify their suppliers, but they also have different programmes, such as the Luxottica Responsible Sourcing and Manufacturing (LRSM) programmes, to ensure sustainability in their business ethics, labour, human rights, safety, and treatment of the environment. These aspects are further overseen by third-party auditors. Such commitments are very strong efforts in my opinion.
Due to Luxottica being such a giant corporation, however, the information provided is usually on the general manufacturing process rather than on a specific brand or model. Videos show the factories and the manufacturing process but could have been manipulated by the brand. Despite Luxottica’s high devotion to sustainability, without detailed research into the brand, sustainability is hard to be fully defined or trusted.

Who makes it:

1.5

Oakley is a company based in Lake Forest, California that is owned by the Milan-based corporate giant, Luxottica, which owns 30% of the eyewear industry’s market share. Besides Oakley, Luxottica also owns multiple designer brands like Ray-Ban. With this level of a monopoly, one should expect a high level of environmental and social responsibility.
The company uses pillars of ethics which are based on the UN SDGs. Their goals, measures, and implementations are documented in detail in a yearly sustainability report which can be easily found on their website. All goals and achievements are supplemented with numbers and statistics and are in compliance with the rules from the EU non-financial reporting directive - great proof of transparency and true commitment.
In the environmental aspects, Luxottica has increased the use of renewable energy in their Satisloh factory in Italy and contributed to a reduction of 33% of the site’s annual emission, equaling 215 tons of CO2 in 2020. The numbers are backed up with methodologies used for calculations, so they are not made up out of the thin air. Besides contributions to the community such as volunteering at the World Insight Day, giving out scholarships to optometry students in the US, or facilitating jobs and health benefits for communities in Sao Paolo, Luxottica has also developed performance indicators –inspired by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – to ensure that human rights are not violated in their global practices. Interestingly, there is no information regarding sustainability on Oakley’s own website, if this is because Luxottica has taken full responsibility for the sustainability part, it should still be made clear on Oakley’s website. As an employer, Oakley has received 3.8 / 5 stars from 500 reviews from employees around the world. Most of the workforce is satisfied, but some did express that employees are overworked.

I believe that Luxottica is putting in genuine efforts rather than greenwashing since their claims are all backed up with real numbers and proof. Whether the same applies specifically to Oakley, I am not sure, and it is still hard to gauge whether the scale of Luxottica’s impact is sufficient relative to the size of the corporation.