Industry of All Nations Sustainable Acetate Sunglasses Shannis Matte


  • Langanos -
  • Shannis -
  • Addis - - Soldout



Failed to subscribe

You're in! We'll let you know when it's back.


The Craft

As a co-op, Signum Vitae workers directly receive the benefits from their excellence in craftsmanship. Frames are made from cutting, forming, and polishing sheets of cellulose acetate. These pieces are polished by hand and then assembled with lenses and hardware into a complete pair of glasses.

The Land

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s commercial and cultural hub, located in the highlands bordering the Great Rift Valley. Here is where the Signum Vitae Co-operative has operated for the past three decades. Finally recovering from devastating famine and drought during the mid 1980s, Ethiopia is emerging as one of the fastest growing manufacturing economies in Africa.


The Process

The sunglasses’ frame material is made from cellulose acetate, a non-petroleum based plastic made from vegetable fibers. It is strong, lightweight, hypoallergenic, and made from a renewable resource. A biodegradable material, under the right conditions acetate can decompose in a period between 4 to 9 months. Mineral glass lenses arrive from Germany as uniform discs, and are hand-shaped to fit each frame.


The People

Signum Vitae Co-operative was established in 1989 in Addis Ababa, initially as an NGO to offer vision health services to those in need and working opportunities to the disabled. The work began by training men and women in different fields, such a woodwork, making frames for eyeglasses, grinding lenses, and optical work.. Everybody has a working place according to their ability.


From the land to the finished product, all within a perfect environment, working to bring production back to the original makers.

  • Raw Material: China / Germany
  • Processing: China / Germany
  • Hand carving: Ethiopia
  • Assembly: Ethiopia
  • Packaging: Ethiopia

Re-invigorating, re-introducing local ancestral techniques, adapting to modern need.

From the ground to the finished product, made at the source of the raw materials.

Organic, recycled or biodegradable materials and processes.

Worldwide team members and partners receive more than average wages and salaries.

No intermediaries or agents, every production is developed and monitored by IOAN.