The current crop of cycling shades appear to be looking back rather than forward, and even the fashion pages of newspapers like the The Guardian seem to have noticed. If the catwalk is adopting cycling glasses as the accessory du jour have we suddenly become fashionable by accident?
Wearing cycling shades for anything other than cycling cycling was always a huge no-no, but according to the fashionistas some of the new breed are perfectly acceptable every-day sunglasses. Princess Anne even wore wraparound shades to Harry and Megan’s wedding, and she’s obviously as style icon..
Of course, cyclists are always been on trend early and the retro-inspired cycling sunglass has been around for a while – I first saw this trend with Rudy Project‘s 25th anniversary RayBan Aviator inspired shades back in 2012. I got hold of a pair to use in that year’s L’Eroica ride as I was riding a classic Bianchi and wanted to complete the Fausto Coppi look. (And it was definitely just the look and not the cycling ability). I’ve still got those 25th anniversary shades and I even got a second pair in gloss white for that 80s roadie-cum-ski instructor look.
Rudy Project reissued their original design from 1987, and I’m a fan (I’ve got two pairs in different colours)
After Rudy, came Swedish brand POC with their large lens Aviator inspired DIDs in modern thermoplastic, which Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal modelled so well.
POC’s whole range is inspired by the classic aviator shape
The retro trend continues apace with the likes of Lazer’s Walter and Rapha’s too cool for school 1950s and 60s inspired designs in typically inspired Rapha nostalgia for a time that never actually existed grainy B&W!
Rapha’s range features 40s, 50s and 60s inspired designs
Recently shade designers have turned to the 1980s for inspiration. Peter Sagan’s 100% Speedcraft SL2 glasses look like they’ve been delivered straight from 1985. If only Pete would match them with explosion-in-a-paint-factory Spandex and a mullet… Thankfully the quality is very much 21st century and I’ve probably worn the Speedcrafts than any shade for the last year or so.
These 100% SL2 shades are as worn by Peter Sagan, though he wasn’t born when the designs that inspired these were first popular
Then you’ve got Alba Optics from Italy – product, no doubt, of the fevered mind of a perfectly facially manscaped Italian roadie – which pay homage to original Oakleys but wrapped up in modern materials and optical quality.
ALBA’s shades look like they came straight out of 1985
Completing my trip back in time are the ultra-stylish Italian Zero RH+ Corsa6 shades. Again, these feel as if they’re straight out of the these are straight out of the 1970s. They remind me of my dad’s old boss as they’re the sort of shades he’d put on before getting into his Lotus Esprit to head off to buy some ‘salopettes’ for his winter holiday skiing. (Was your dad’s boss Roger Moore Woz? – Ed). It may sound like I’m down on them, but actually I’m loving their outlandishness. Forget sock doping, how about shade doping!
These Zero RH+ Corsa 6 shades combine modern materials with a design that should be accompanied by plenty of velour, a flared suit, and an evening of fondue and black forest gateaux
In all seriousness I think its a good thing that we’ve such a wide range of styles of glasses available (although the quality and protection is the most important thing), and don’t see why they can’t they also be fun. With this assortment of retro inspired shades doesn’t it make the all-tech approach of sports shades from the biggest brands feel a little well dated?
And just in case you’re wondering, wearing cycling shorts for anything for cycling, as The Guardian recently suggested in another article, will never, ever be acceptable!