Karűn is an eyewear brand with a mission to change your vision, literally and metaphorically. In an interview with the founder, Thomas Kimber, we trace back to the first motivations behind Thomas’ vision for Karűn. Thomas challenges how we connect with nature, and interprets this literally by using ECONYL® regenerated nylon in the making of his new Pacific Collection.
The story of Thomas Kimber and Karűn could start in many places. In valleys and mountains, where wild horses wander freely, or on the shores of a lake on a pristine landscape. All these were the ingredients of Thomas’ youth growing up in Patagonia. But it is in a room full of students at the University of Chile during an economics class that Thomas’ journey really began.
Here, Thomas’ professor was explaining how humans are moved by selfishness to make the maximum profit, lowering the costs of goods as much as possible. Thomas raised his hand. He did not agree. Though he didn’t get a good grade for that, this is how everything started. Thomas realized that business as usual was not working and this belief became the foundation for his brand, Karűn.
At nineteen years old, Thomas started four companies and an NGO, raising one million dollars for a campaign to reforest Torre del Paine National Park after the devastating forest fire of 2011. He would then go on to create and grow Karűn, a company that manufactures high-quality sunglasses.
But saying that his company only manufactures sunglasses is an understatement. Karűn has a higher purpose that relates to the iconic role of sunglasses. The name is in the Mapuche language (the indigenous culture of Chile) and means “to be nature.” The glasses are a way to invite people to look at the world in a different way, understanding that we are deeply connected to nature.
Thomas is motivated by a simple question: what would the world look like if we understood that we are a part of nature? How would things change? He believes that this moment of great confusion is not only the result of a systemic crisis, but also deeper cultural issues. There is no way to change if our thoughts and feelings about nature remain the same. We think we are above nature, but this sentiment is detrimental to the enivornment. In order to create a regenerative model, we must reconnect with nature.
Thomas’ love for nature comes from his memory of growing up in Patagonia and often traveling around with his mother. As a a naturalistic photographer, she would take him horseback riding to see wild horses and pumas, or camping around the beautiful landscapes of their homeland. Thomas turned to nature after dropping out of his university and before starting his journey as a businessman.
We asked Thomas where his optimism comes from and he said, “We are living in such complex times that is difficult to predict how things will evolve, so everything is possible.” This is also why he prefers to focus on the present. He wants to inspire as many people as possible and look for collaboration everywhere. He believes fashion has a significant role in this journey because it is a medium for powerful messages with a large audience of people willing to listen. But with that power comes the responsibility of positive change and altering the message that fashion is mostly about superficial appearance, individualistic needs, and consumption.
So, what does the world look like through the lenses of Karűn’s glasses? We see the deep connection with nature through the sustainable materials Karűn uses and the way the eyeglasses are made. We discover amazing opportunities to empower local communities and protect nature in Patagonia. Karűn invites us to have a different point of view, where we are all one with nature, to become change makers through example and involvement.
We asked Thomas, how do you inspire people who don’t see the problem or have other ideas and try to minimize it? He said, “Often this kind of behavior comes from fear, and realizing this can change the way we approach the people that don’t agree with cultural change. People are more and more scared of connecting to their inner selves. Recognizing the fear, being patient and expanding our way of thinking are some of the ways to break these walls.”
Karűn is involved in many collaborations with NGOs, like Chilean Baloon Latam, but also with companies like Volvo and Aquafil. Thomas met Aquafil’s CEO and chairman Giulio Bonazzi at the Volvo Ocean Racein 2018. He invited Thomas to see the ECONYL® regenerated plant in Slovenia where waste is turned into Nylon polymers. Thomas went, and while discovering the regeneration process, he realized that the concept behind ECONYL® and the vision of Karűn matched perfectly and were both communicating a compelling story.
This is how the new Pacific Collection was born. Sunglasses made from ECONYL® polymers that come from regenerated waste instead of oil. The waste used can be fishing nets recovered from the oceans or old carpets and textile scraps. The collaboration doesn’t stop at the use of ECONYL® as a sustainable ingredient, but there is also a network in place to recover fishing nets in Patagonia with the help of local communities. The fishing nets are recovered by Aquafil and regenerated together with the other waste into ECONYL® nylon polymers used for the sunglasses.
So, when wearing a pair of colorful sunglasses from the new Pacific Collection by Karűn, remember to look for ways to nurture your connection with nature and be the change.