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Proof Eyewear Redefines the American Dream

By Gianna Keiko Rankart // giannakeiko.com // @giannakeiko

Photos by Jacob Bottles // @jakefromthelake

 

Proof Eyewear is small, young, and living their motto: “Do good.” 

Proof started like any good passion project—in a garage with two brothers, some ideas, a little money, and a few hours after the day job. Since 2010, it’s grown to sell consciously sourced, environmentally friendly eyewear in over 20 countries. 

It all started with a truck driver in rural Utah named Bud Dame. A man who owed Bud money made good on the debt by giving him lumber equipment. Playing the hand he was dealt, Bud started a sawmill in 1954 with zero education or professional background and became the successful CEO of a company with over 2,000 employees internationally. 

“Wood was always the passion,” explained Proof's COO and co-founder Tanner Dame. Proof’s founders—the Dame brothers—grew up working in the family wood mill, and had an intimate relationship with sawdust and the Idaho outdoors. Today, brothers Taylor, Brooks, and Tanner breathe life into the original dirtbag Yvon Chouinard’s philosophy: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Can an eyewear company source natural materials from this continent, avoid the allure of quick-fix philanthropy to complex global problems, and make super, on-point frames? Yes. Every collection is hand cut and finished. The ECO Collection is crafted from cotton based acetates—plastics made from cotton harvested from sources within the US and Canada. Purified, aged, stretched, wound, spun, infused, cut. The Skate collection, made from Canadian-based Maple wood, is basically a lasagna of vibrant skate decks. And of course the start of it all, the Wood collection, is harvested from only sustainable forests, making only premium cuts—shaping perfect, stylish frames. Hand stained and waterproofed. 

Proof recently got a Kickstarter campaign way over-funded to produce their new recycled line The Aluminum Collection, proving the demand for a product that didn't exist.

Manufacturers today are producing the new American Dream, where sustainability is at the forefront. The old American Dream taught us that anything was possible. Combined with the paradox of choice, we could, if we choose, show up to this commerce landscape and get lost in opportunity. 

With solid core values and a little gumption and grit, the understanding of heritage and giving back inspires Proof to work globally, enacting their Do Good projects around the world. The logo of a bird with a mechanical crank represents Proof’s belief that, “Everyone has wings to fly, some just need a little help.” In the El Salvador project, over 1,000 students were examined and given eyeglasses or surgery if needed, 19 homes were built following tidal wave destruction, and over 500 cocoa trees were donated as an additional source of income for the community. Proof has built eye clinics in India and rehabilitated child soldiers in Africa. Their latest Do Good project in the Philippines rebuilt orphanages, provided health screenings, and scheduled over 100 cataract, cleft lip & club feet surgeries. 

This isn’t a company mindlessly donating at fiscal year-end to hide profits or get a tax write-off.

Even if the planet feels broken, it’s providing us an opportunity to draw from multiple inspiration points. To vote with our dollar, to not fit into boxes or career paths, to see life as art and art as life and use that philosophy to do a little good for the earth and its people… and look real good doing it. 

See Proof's newest styles at the EXPO Adventure Festival