Deeply futuristic, wraparound sunglasses have been on the up-and-up for a while now — though in the world of professional sports, they were never really out.
Let’s look back to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when Trinidadian Olympian Ato Boldon stepped onto the field wearing a standard running leotard with a pair of silver, reflective sunglasses that went – not over his ears – but over his head. Fittingly called Overthetop, the Oakley pair morphed Boldon into a speedy dystopian character out of Mad Max. And while it made sense for Boldon (and Swedish golfer Jarmo Sandelin) to wear the pair on the track, from that moment, the glasses became a hit in the fashion world, too.
“They aren’t mainstream, but that is kind of the point. A car company will build typical cars for their normal consumers, and then they’ll build a prototype to show what they can do,” says Boldon of the moment. “This was Oakley showing a glimpse of what they can do.”
So can the world of sports sunnies continue to make their mark in mainstream culture? Of course they can.
Among the hundreds of photos seen over the last few days at the Tokyo Olympics, it has been impossible not to notice the sunglasses worn by athletes and athletes during their Olympic performances. Much more than a simple necessity dictated by sporting commitment (only a few were used for their actual purpose), but rather they acted as accessories: designs capable of transforming the athletes into cyborgs.
Check out our faves below.
Kevin Borlée's Oakley Xeus sunnies
We have to give our hats off to Oakley as the master of sunnies, establishing itself as the absolute protagonist of the Olympics. First off, we have Belgian sprinter Kevin Borlée sporting his fresh pair of the new Oakley Xeus sunnies while running the 400m.
...which Andre De Grasse also wore
The same specs were also spotted on Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, who advanced to the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Mutaz Essa Barshim's Oakley Katos
And while we’re still talking Oakley, we can’t go past what might be the most stylish sport of the Olympics: the high jump.
So far the event’s sartorial standout would have to be the pair of Oakley Kato sunglasses that Barshim wore throughout the nighttime competition. These weren’t exactly functional (it was, of course, dark), and the shades flew off his face pretty much every time he cleared the bar, but when the sci-fi lenses mirrored the stripes on his Qatari Olympic uniform, it was all worth it.
“It’s OK,” he said after he broke the pair he was wearing moments after their post-gold embrace. “I’ve got like 50 pairs.”
... and Raven Saunders' show-stoppers
US shot-putter Raven Saunders’s podium protest (where the medallists posed for photos she raised her arms and crossed them into an X shape to represent “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet”) was a standout moment of her Olympics journey.
But it was also the Olympian’s style and flair in the stadium, winning gold for the coolest specs yet – these technicolor shield sunglasses (which we don’t know the brand of, but are giving us major Pit Viper vibes).
“One of my things is like, everyone during the shot put, and I don’t know why, people are always smiling and talking. That’s not really me,” Saunders said of her look, according to the Washington Post. “This is my way of like, being friendly I guess?”
Kun Bi is back-to-black
If colour’s not really your thing then feast your eyes on these sleek black shades worn by Chinese athlete Kun Bi as he finished third in the Men’s RS:X windsurfing class on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
While Ray Bassil's Delarios dominate
Over to the shooting arena, the Italian sunnies dominate, worn by Lebanese athlete Ray Bassil, and recognisable by the huge branding that stands out on the sides. While these are made specifically for shooting I wouldn’t be surprised if they star popping up on the streets of post-covid fashion week.