This article was first published in The Inertia on June 17, 2021.
VALLON began in 2018 with two Swedish brothers, Richard and Marcus Franck, and their dissatisfaction with the state of sunglasses. At the time, it seemed that you needed to choose between sunglasses that looked good, or sunglasses that had all the functional features of sports eyewear such as strong UV protection, polarization, and curved lenses to protect against side-glare. And on both sides of the style vs performance spectrum, high-quality meant high prices to boot. Eco-friendly construction? Just forget about it.
With the goal of breaking this pattern in mind, VALLON was formed. And for design inspiration, the two brothers looked backwards to the timeless style of the 1970s and 80s. Taking an old pair of glacier glasses, the Franck brothers decided to give this classic design a modern update, and create glasses that were perfect for ski touring in winter and hiking in the summer. Thus, the Herons were born, pairing classically styled mountaineering glasses with shatterproof lenses and breathable leather side shields to keep the sun at bay without fogging. The temples are fully adjustable to ensure a secure fit during vigorous ascents and rapid descents.
Another timeless style that VALLON is bringing back are the iconic Ski Aviators. This type of sunglass frame dominated the adventure sports community of the seventies, most famously featured by hotdog/freestyle skiing pioneer, Wayne Wong. Wayne was one of the first to break free from traditional ski racing to practice a more expressive form of skiing based on performing tricks rather than speed. Wayne oozed style, and his aviator sunglasses were one of his most recognized accessories. “To this day, people continue to associate me and my white sunglasses with the freestyle skiing movement,” says Wayne, who’s now partnering with VALLON on the storied sunglasses. The Ski Aviators sport a mirror-coated lens for maximum light reflection, and to up the retro vibes of course (they’re also available in Wayne’s classic white frames).
Their near-identical twins, the Surf Aviators are perfect for summer. Made from premium cellulose acetate, the frames are flexy and durable without relying on petroleum-based chemicals for their construction. The polarized, Category 3 lens provides 100 percent UVA and UVB protection surpassing industry safety standards, and are designed to reduce glare when on the water.
For other great summer styles, check out the Howlin’ and Heron Mountain sunglasses. The Howlin’s are one of VALLON’s best-selling frames, meant to completely bridge the gap between performance and style. With a detachable headstrap these sunglasses can be used for rigorous activities without fear of losing them, and still be able to clean up nice for a formal event.