This Is How Old Jeans Are Turned Into Sunglasses

A new video reveals Mosevic's intricate handmade process.

Jack Spencer's sunglass-making machine
Jack Spencer shows how he makes sunglasses from old jeans.

Mosevic (used with permission)

Jack Spencer has been making sunglasses out of old jeans for nearly a decade. Through a lengthy process of trial and error, and more prototypes than he can count, he has finally figured out a method that turns a waste product into a high-end yet practical accessory.

I wrote about Jack's sunglass company, Mosevic, a number of years ago for Treehugger. But when he reached out again to say that he'd made a video documenting the production process, I had to check it out. It's a fascinating glimpse into what "handmade" really means – and the sheer amount of effort (not to mention ingenuity) that goes into making a product we often take for granted. Suddenly the £180.00 ($234.00) price tag doesn't seem so exorbitant, when you realize everything is done by Jack himself and it takes two weeks to make a small batch from start to finish.

Jack Spencer with resin-infused denim
Resin-infused denim is the base for Mosevic sunglasses.

Mosevic (used with permission)

Jack completed a product design degree in Cornwall, England, and started working with carbon fiber. While reinforcing the carbon fibers with resin, he came up with the idea of trying the same with denim. A visit to a local thrift store gave him the material he needed, and the results, though far from perfect, were promising. 

He then built himself a CNC milling machine, as he couldn't afford to buy one upfront. He assembled the components and spent three months troubleshooting to make it work – or, as he put it to Treehugger, "pulling my hair out many evenings until one day I pushed the button on the computer and the machine moved!" He put the machine to work cutting precise shapes out of the hardened denim material he'd prepared. (The machinery has been upgraded since those early days.)

Jack describes the invention process as a real labor of love, telling Treehugger,

"It's taken a heck of a lot of trying different things to develop the process of creating a nice finish that is waterproof and fit for purpose, whilst still looking nice, looking and feeling like denim, and also not being a real pain to make. I have lost count of the amount of prototypes I've made and how many bits of custom tooling I've had to make to make the prototypes."

Back in 2011 he thought he'd come up with a cool new product within a few months of experimenting, but he now says, "How little I knew back then! I am really proud of what I have developed and I am very proud of this video too. I think it shows the amount of work it takes to make them and highlights how unique the product is."

Mosevic closeup

Mosevic (used with permission)

Unique is an apt descriptor. I have a pair of Halley frames that Jack sent me three years ago and, while they don't have all the upgraded features now seen in newer models, they never fail to draw comments and compliments whenever I wear them. It's just so unusual to see eyewear made out of something that's normally, well, thigh wear!

In a world overwhelmed with old clothes and surplus materials, it makes sense to transform those resources into new usable items. We don't need innovative new materials so much as innovative ways in which to use the old ones, and Mosevic is an excellent example of a company trying to do exactly that.

If you're interested in getting a pair, now's the time to order for December-January delivery, or you could give someone a gift certificate for Christmas that allows them pick their own style. There are five styles available, in blue and black denim, and they can be shipped worldwide. You can watch the impressive production video below.