Artist and activist Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, internationally known as M.I.A., and Parley have teamed together for a special launch of sunglasses made from reclaimed fishing gear and plastic debris collected from coastal communities around the world. The eyewear collection was debuted through Parley’s creative fundraising platform Clean Waves – a collaborative platform where Parley partners with artists, designers, and activists on projects that help combat the spread of ocean plastic waste.
“Clean Waves is a new idea of a luxury brand, a creative fundraising platform where artists, designers, activists and material scientists unleash their skills to drive the Material Revolution alongside the protection of islands and oceans. Every Clean Waves collection is designed to provoke a future of creativity, collaboration and eco-innovation — with the goal of creating a world where humans live in peace with the ecosystems of nature,” said Parley for the Oceans found and CEO Cyrill Gutsch.
This drop with M.I.A. is the first Clean Waves project and the artists’ first foray into eyewear design. It features three sunglasses with interchangeable lenses in contrasting colors (black, violet, and coral) – a perfect nod to M.I.A.’s ability to switch styles at any second. The plastic waste used to craft the eyewear was collected by Parley’s Global Cleanup Network and transformed into Parley’s signature Ocean Plastic. This is similar material used for adidas Primeblue, also made in partnership with Parley. After the Ocean Plastic is developed, the sunglasses are then handmade in Italy using injection molding, as Parley notes, to minimize waste.
All of the collection’s net proceeds will go to protecting the islands and oceans funding specific initiatives like island cleanups – an overall commitment for all Clean Waves projects moving forward. The partnership between M.I.A. and Parley kicked off on a 2017 ocean clean-up trip at Parley’s Ocean School in the Maldives. Seeing the direct effects and damage plastic waste has to life in beautiful natural locations, such as pristine beaches of the Maldives, the artist wanted to instill direct change and bring the beautiful sunsets seen on the islands to life all through design.
“Nature is everything. It’s your physical body, your mental state; it’s our oceans, land, air – everything is connected. If you have a good understanding of all these things, then we are in balance. And I think issues like overpopulation, overfishing, sea piracy, poverty, plastic pollution are all symptoms of a system that is broken,” said M.I.A. in a featured statement on the Clean Waves Instagram post.
Every pair of sunglasses created for the collection contains a unique GPS coordinate on the frame to serve as the owner’s link to a specific island that they help protect through purchase. For example, wearers will know that one piece is tied directly to Dhaandhoo, which is part of the Baa Atoll, located at the northern edge of the Maldives. Or another piece directly affects Araigathaa, an island located in the southern Maldives. Exclusive content is accessible to help connect you closer with the beauty and fragility of these beautiful islands.
M.I.A. has been a continuous voice for change in her music and overall art. “I’ve always shied away from putting my name to anything that promotes a lot of consumption. People ask me to make clothes and shoes or make this and make that, but I didn’t want to commit to producing a ton of stuff for the sake of it. So this is me dipping my toe into producing something ethically,” the artist said in a conversation with Gutsch on the Clean Waves site.
The special M.I.A. Clean Waves Edition One sunglasses are available for $340 USD via the Clean Waves web shop as well as Selfridges in London and Dover Street Market in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore. Read more about M.I.A. and Gutsch’s conversation on the project here.