The materials Raen makes their products out of are overall good sustainable materials that can be recycled if treated correctly. Their products are handmade and seem to have high quality materials that are long lasting. Only major negatives for this product is the lack of transparency in regards to where it is manufactured and made. For this reason it will only receive 1.5/3 planets.
Raen is a San Diego based sunglasses company creating handmade sunglasses with retro inspired designs. The Remmy model from Raen sunglasses is their most sold design that fits both men and women. The frame is made out of champagne polished type of plastic called zyl acetate. Many major sunglasses manufactures and companies use acetate because of its high quality and durability. It’s generally very light weight and is the highest grade cellulose acetate available. According to an article on Raen’s website, acetate is used because its a high quality plastic originating from the renewable resources of wood pulp and natural cotton fibers. Although, it may be hard to assess the sustainability of any pair of sunglasses since its materials are generally deprived or containt some sort of plastic. According to EcoCult, acetate can be restored and recycled easily if they come from a vetted source. In the case for Raen, the sunglasses should be recyclable. The lenses are manufactured by Carl Zeiss Vision and are 100% UVA/UVB protected according Raen. However, according to an article by Master Eye Associates where they assessed various sunglass lenses and their functionality. Master Eye Associates says that the lenses provided in the Raen sunglasses are CR-39 specs--which is a conventional plastic that can scratch easily and does not provide as efficient UVA protection. On the other hand, they note that many companies add an additional scratch resistance coat and UV coating to defuse some of the lens deficiencies. However, Raen does not state any additional added coatings to their lenses.
What makes Raen unique compared to many other mainstream sunglass brands is that all of their products are handmade. The only machine operated function in the process of making Raen sunglasses is in carving the frames of zyl acetate. There is not much research or information on the dangers or environmental impacts of acetate production. However, acetate does include 3 major ingredients which are: *acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and sulfuric acid,* these 3 chemicals are all highly dangerous substances that can cause health problems when human skin is in contact. Despite this, there have been minimal complaints of any health issues or environmental impacts during use. After shaping the acetate frames on an auto inputted machine. The frames are polished and buffed with a polishing wheel that is similar to ones used on jewelry to ensure its durability. Lastly, Raen handcrafts their label and print on the glasses along with inserting the CR-39 lens frames from Carl Zeiss Vision.
All of Raen’s products are designed at their main headquarters in Oceanside California. All of their designs are inspired by Southern California beach and surf culture, but also cultivating retro styles. Despite this, as mentioned, Carl Zeiss Vision is the manufacturer of the lenses in Raen. Zeiss is a German manufacturer in lens optics and is located and based out of Germany. Although Raen has been very transparent of their processes of making the sunglasses, they never disclose where the products are made. They are all designed in California, however Raen never mentions where they are manufactured. After some research, I found a blogpost saying that their sunglasses are designed in San Diego Ca, but made in China. If Raen claims to be handmade, they are definitely using cheaper labor over seas to maintain that identity that also creates a large carbon footprint. Additionally, the lenses are made in Germany which is an additional different location that adds more to the carbon footprint of export and transportation to manufacture the complete product.