Industry Report
8 min

Biovision Ventures

Swedish eyewear company Spektrum looks to lead in both functional style and sustainability.
Words by
Leslie Anthony
January 25, 2024

Sweden’s premiere ski destination, Åre, is well known for world-class skiing and snowboarding, a thriving food and beverage scene and successfully hosting a trio of World Alpine Ski Championships. Less known is how a critical mass of local snowsport talent has also turned Åre into a centre of excellence and innovation in a range of products, from outerwear and base layers to hats, socks, skis, snowboards, and backpacks. A leader among these innovators is Spektrum, whose bio-based goggles and sunglasses may have achieved an unheard-of title: World’s Most Sustainable Eyewear.

1/2
1/2

Legendary alpine ski racer Ingemar Stenmark is an integral part of Spektrum Sports. His signature goggle, called 86, celebrates his 86 World Cup wins. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Legendary alpine ski racer Ingemar Stenmark is an integral part of Spektrum Sports. His signature goggle, called 86, celebrates his 86 World Cup wins. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
2/2
2/2

Ingemar Stenmark was captured in his stomping grounds in Tärnaby in Swedish Lapland. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Ingemar Stenmark was captured in his stomping grounds in Tärnaby in Swedish Lapland. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Launched in 2013, Spektrum co-founders included big-mountain freeski legend Robert Olsson, pro snowboarder Andreas Nilemo, Olympian mogul skier Henrik Köhler, and celebrated snowboard photographer Anders Neuman. “I had worked in clothing design and was talking with Köhler about designing some kind of new product,” recalls Olsson. “We quickly decided against clothing and to focus on accessories that wouldn’t require a lot of sizes or stock-keeping. We thought ski poles needed some revival, but since we also wanted to include snowboarders, eyewear and goggles seemed the logical choice.”

Nilemo and Neuman have had similar discussions and brought relevant snowsport and business experience to help the team. And, as if these four didn’t have enough professional snowsport cred to lend Spektrum serious commercial heft, the group welcomed another local investor who’d probably had some thoughts about goggles in his time and whose on-snow achievements outsized them all — ski-race legend Ingemar Stenmark, who kept Swedes spellbound in their living rooms over a 15-year career that included a recently surpassed record of 86 World Cup victories.

1/3
1/3

Founders Robert Olsson and Henrik Köhler working on some new goggle styles in the office in Åre, Sweden. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Founders Robert Olsson and Henrik Köhler working on some new goggle styles in the office in Åre, Sweden. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
2/3
2/3

Robert Olsson has a professional freeskier background and used to film with Free Radicals and Teton Gravity Research back in the day. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Robert Olsson has a professional freeskier background and used to film with Free Radicals and Teton Gravity Research back in the day. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
3/3
3/3

Spektrum Sports uses lenses from German manufacturer Zeiss for all its goggles and sunglasses. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Spektrum Sports uses lenses from German manufacturer Zeiss for all its goggles and sunglasses. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

The foundation of Spektrum’s products lies in a Nordic specialty — clean, functional design with high-quality materials, details, and finish. The company’s dual aim is always to improve consumer expectations in the most sustainable ways. Hence, a range of durable eyewear products garner labels like crisp, fresh, innovative, and stylish that never compromise functionality and are verifiably more sustainable than conventional brands.

The genesis of the company’s ethos is summed this way: the Spektrum folks love living and playing in the mountains; they know that anything made for use in the mountain environment must be able to respond to the changeable nature of weather here; they also understand that some of today’s biggest weather challenges are human-caused and that doing your part to minimize them is critical to the generational security of enjoying winter in the mountains; and finally, they somehow figure out a way to deliver all the values they live and play by under one unique brand.

1/1
1/1

Mountain guide Linus Archibald is one of Spektrum’s ambassadors. Here captured in Andermatt, Switzerland. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Mountain guide Linus Archibald is one of Spektrum’s ambassadors. Here captured in Andermatt, Switzerland. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more
1/1
1/1

Adrien Grabinski, the ski patrol director at Shames Mountain in Terrace, British Columbia, also ski with Spektrum googles. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Adrien Grabinski, the ski patrol director at Shames Mountain in Terrace, British Columbia, also ski with Spektrum googles. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

This ultimately led the group to the plant-derived materials that now define their collections. With goggles, this adds up to 64 percent biomaterial and other recyclables. Frames, for instance, are fashioned from Spektrum’s go-to material, castor oil, and so are the more minor plastic details and, in some models, even the lens. These plant-based raw materials are modified into polymers, then made into pellets and injected with colour rather than painted; the dyeing process ensures superior durability and colour depth for all frames while vastly improving performance and scratch resistance. The method also spares workers and the environment from exposure to hazardous chemicals.

1/4
1/4

For many years, former X-Games gold medalist and Spektrum ambassador Antti Autti have been working on his project Arctic Lines, proving Scandinavian mountains have steep lines and powder. Filmed by Mikko-Pekka Karlin

Read more

For many years, former X-Games gold medalist and Spektrum ambassador Antti Autti have been working on his project Arctic Lines, proving Scandinavian mountains have steep lines and powder. Filmed by Mikko-Pekka Karlin

Read more
2/4
2/4

Spektrum uses plant-derived materials that now define their collections. With goggles, this adds up to 64 percent biomaterial and other recyclables. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Spektrum uses plant-derived materials that now define their collections. With goggles, this adds up to 64 percent biomaterial and other recyclables. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more
3/4
3/4

With an innovative approach, Spektrum looks to lead in functional and sustainable styles. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

With an innovative approach, Spektrum looks to lead in functional and sustainable styles. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more
4/4
4/4

Canadian pro skier Chad Sayers is one of the ambassadors rocking Spektrum’s eyewear. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Canadian pro skier Chad Sayers is one of the ambassadors rocking Spektrum’s eyewear. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Interestingly, notes Olsson, sustainability started as a side project. “We initially did quite understated and clean designs at an accessible price point because, at the time, we thought most goggles were over-designed with too many tech features no one understood or needed. There was a gap in the market for that, but we didn’t think it was enough to build a strong brand. Then we got involved in a biomaterial project with the Innovation Institute at the University of Östersund (about an hour east of Åre), which helped us find and develop the perfect biomaterials for our particular use.”

Suddenly, they were looking at another niche entirely.

1/2
1/2

Finnish snowboard legend Antti Autti’s passion for sustainability makes the cooperation with Spektrum a great match. Photo: Simo Vilhunen

Read more

Finnish snowboard legend Antti Autti’s passion for sustainability makes the cooperation with Spektrum a great match. Photo: Simo Vilhunen

Read more
2/2
2/2

Chad Sayers product testing on the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Chad Sayers product testing on the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

“We spent about two years on R&D,” recalls Olsson. “At first, we were trying out the more sustainable goggle idea as a limited series within the collection because not making a 100 percent switch all at once would be safer from a business standpoint. But in field tests, the biomaterials worked as well as, or better than, conventional materials — they were lighter and more durable than comparable plastics, delivered increased performance and stayed softer in cold weather, which made them more comfortable. So, we switched everything over the following year.” The move proved successful in more ways than one, and Spektrum immediately won the 2020 Gold Award for best eyewear at the world’s biggest sports trade show, ISPO, in Münich, Germany.

1/3
1/3

The award-winning Bunner helmet deconstructed. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

The award-winning Bunner helmet deconstructed. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
2/3
2/3

Prototype of the Bunner helmet. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Prototype of the Bunner helmet. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
3/3
3/3

The design team working on the Bunner helmet. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

The design team working on the Bunner helmet. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

Next, they added Performance Eyewear, with frames constructed from the oil extracts of castor beans. Not only does this reduce CO2 emissions in manufacturing by an impressive 46 percent compared to conventional plastics, but the carbon released from castor oil is 100 percent derived from circulating atmospheric CO2 — not long-sequestered carbon from ancient fossils. Furthermore, the supply line is as clean as they come: the beans, which happily grow where other crops won’t, are fully traceable to a co-op project in India, pose no competition with food, use no GMOs, and cause no deforestation.

Still, this is no greenwash, and the group has no illusions. “For now, all the benefits are at the front end,” says Olsson. “We’re looking into fully biodegradable or circular designs, but there are some challenges.” Still, Spektrum continues to innovate. In winter 2021-22, it launched the RAW goggles made from 90 percent biomaterials, with a strap made from hemp and fully undyed components.

1/1
1/1

The snow helmet Bunner is Spektrum’s first helmet and is built entirely from bio and recycled materials. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more

The snow helmet Bunner is Spektrum’s first helmet and is built entirely from bio and recycled materials. Photo: Anders Neuman

Read more
1/1
1/1

Adrien Grabinski is charging hard in Smithers, British Columbia. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Adrien Grabinski is charging hard in Smithers, British Columbia. Photo: Mattias Fredriksson

Read more

Where to next for Spektrum? Olsson was keen on their upcoming launch of helmets made with bio-based materials, which he figured would be immediately popular.
“We have spent the last two years designing and developing a range of helmets with the same ambitious eco-credentials as the eyewear. The first one to be released during the fall of 2023 was the snow helmet “Bunner,” built entirely from bio and recycled materials.” The helmet won the Red Dot “Best of the Best award” in 2023 before even hitting the shelves – proof that Spektrum indeed has the vision.

Leslie Anthony is a writer and editor who knows a thing or two about snow. Longtime Creative Director of SKIER, former Managing Editor of POWDER, and author of the book White Planet: A Mad Dash Through Modern Global Ski Culture, the resident of Whistler, British Columbia, continues to appear regularly on the masthead of the world’s top ski magazines. His favorite activity? Skiing powder, of course.
Biovision Ventures
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.