Sports and fashion go way back – but perhaps the unsung hero of this crossover is cycling. This Summer, people are ditching the micro-sunnies of season’s past in favour of an entirely more sporty silhouette – donning shades that would be as at home in the club as they are in the Tour de France. But as with all trend cycles (pun intended), this isn’t the first we’ve seen of them, or the sport as one of fashion’s most unlikely inspirations.
Cycling shorts blew up a few years ago, in large part due to Kim Kardashian in her YEEZY marketing era. There was a time when she was rarely seen in anything but cycling shorts – gaining press attention before catalysing a global shift which made them one of the most sought after style items. In the paparazzi-esque campaign for YEEZY season 4 back in 2016, Kim K revived the 80s trend in grey, neutral and black iterations. Since then, they’ve filtered through to becoming a wardrobe staple once again – worn by everyone from models off-duty to your neighbour popping to the shops.
But perhaps the most famous cycling-shorts advocate was Princess Diana – pairing them with an oversized collegiate pullover, chunky trainers, and rifling for her keys. The now infamous photos were even redone decades later by Hailey Bieber, for a Vogue Paris editorial.
Recently though, it’s been cycling sunglasses that have risen to prominence. But how did they get here? Bridging the gap between utility and accessory, cycling glasses have structural and functional concerns built into their design: able to cope with strong winds and whatever type of weather riders may encounter. Translating into design aesthetic – these concerns favour a thick frame, polarised lenses and a silhouette which wraps around the head, for aerodynamic purposes.
The brand of choice for cyclists? Oakley – the sportswear label kitting out professional cyclists with their unique designs which borrowed from commercial and prescription glasses styles. Since the 80s, the brand has become the go-to for cycling glasses on and off the tracks. Michael Jordan has been a long-time champion of the trend, choosing the sports-based shades for TV and courtside appearances throughout his career.
It’s no surprise that with the resurgence of the trend today, other brands are tapping Oakley for collaborations. Last year saw streetwear maverick Stüssy collab with Oakley on two new styles of the Eye Jacket Redux shades. Creating a modern update on the 1984 original, the style featured a rounded oval shape and Prizm lenses, coming in black and sand iterations.
Balenciaga have also been pushing their cycle-inspired glasses, coming full circle with Kim Kardashian at the Oscars after party. Releasing a range of styles from silver wraparounds, to black ‘bat wing’ shades, the brand has demonstrated its ability to cater to and advance the current trends – all whilst getting the products on some of the biggest celebrities of the moment.
Whilst fashion’s cycling inspiration is nothing new, it seems that the cycling sunglasses trend of this year is only set to get bigger as we roll into summer – but it remains to be seen as to whether we’ll get couture helmets, or high-fashion lycra suits in coming seasons.
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