On your bike: how high fashion adopted cycling sunglasses

Its not often you consider Kim Kardashian, Princess Anne and Bella Hadid wearing the same accessories, but this year oversized performance tints are suddenly everywhere

Cycling’s sartorial reinvention is nothing new. Brands such as Rapha, CHPT3, Pas Normal Studios, Isadore and MAAP have offered style-conscious cyclists an alternative to poorly fitted fluro gear for a decade. The fashion world has paid attention too, with Moschino taking cycling style to the catwalk in 2015, and caps becoming essential wear for Williamsburg’s hipsters. But recently, a specific piece of cycling apparel has become co-opted by the manner crowd: sunglasses.

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A model for Vetements at Paris fashion week in June 2018. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/ EPA

At men’s fashion week last month in Paris, Bella Hadid, Rita Ora and Kim Kardashian were spotted in high-end performance sunglasses: Hadid in Heron Preston x Nike Visions, Ora in Oakley Jawbreakers( as worn by Mark Cavendish) and Kardashian in Alpinas. Vetements- one of the most influential brands in the world- set them on models on the catwalk. Stella McCartney constructs Turbo Wrap sunglasses that would be at home on Mont Ventoux. American Vogue has even started operating editorials on them.

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Rita Ora at the Isle of Wight festival in June 2018. Photograph: Dan Reid/ Rex/ Shutterstock

” It’s bizarre ,” says cycling journalist Stuart Clapp, who edits Rouleur’s apparel section.” Princess Anne wore some to the royal wedding. It’s like a 90 s throwback thing. In cycling terms, you wear cycling sunglasses when you’re on the motorcycle, but no one wants to wear them off it. Not even when you’re in the cafe .”

But perhaps it’s not that strange. Brands such as Off-White have been designing cycling shorts for a while and, as the Guardian’s fashion editor Hannah Marriott tells me,” they go with the ironic ugly trainer vibe permeate manner. They’ve never really been fashionable before so they induce early adopters feel a bit clever on Instagram .”

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Oakley Flight Jacket sunglasses, PS165. 99.

Cycling sunglasses have had some distinct epoches. In the early pre-war years, riders would don the kind of goggles you would expect to see in a cockpit rather than in the peloton. In the 50 s and 60 s, innovators such as Fausto Coppi and Britain’s most stylish cyclist, Tom Simpson, began wearing aviators. But it was the 80 s and the introduction of Oakley that broke the mould.

The story runs that when American pro-cyclist Greg LeMond wanted a pair of performance glass, Oakley, until then mostly known as a motocross brand, delivered the Factory Pilot: huge yet minimalist wraparound glass, which provided protection from flies and grit flicked up from the road, as well as the sunlight. Their ungainly aesthetic caused ripplings of laugh in the peloton at first, but became must-haves among pros soon after.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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