Cycling Shades with a Side of Style

SoCal startup IVI brings quality without sacrificing cool

IVI's Custer (left) and The Giving (right) sunglasses.     Photo: Aaron Gulley

Sunglasses for riding continue to improve. Smith’s Pivlock V2 Max is light and simple and virtually unnoticeable when riding. The lenses on the Oakley Racing Jacket almost never fog and the interchange system is absolutely ingenious. And the Assos Zegho has unmatched clarity and coverage.

But these high-performance shades are as ridiculous looking off the bike as they are effective on it.

You wouldn’t bust into your favorite bar in your bib shorts, would you? Nor would you ride your Scott Addict on that cruiser ride with the neighbor and his kids. So for god’s sake, don’t let your sport shades do double duty—get yourself some decent sunglasses to wear when you aren’t riding.

All the major players have solid lifestyle offerings. But the best downtime shades I’ve seen in a long time are from a small SoCal startup called IVI. This collaboration between designer Jerome Mage, once creative director at Spy, Pete Fox of Fox Head infamy, and skateboarding entrepreneur Rob Dydrek is in its relative infancy. But the company is producing some of the freshest looking—and highest quality—sunglasses around. Most of the frames are made from quality block acetates from Italian eyewear supplier Mazzucchelli 1849. The optics are all sourced from Carl Zeiss Vision. And as a complete package, each pair feels substantial, well-crafted, and durable.

Two of our favorite styles are The Giving, an oversize wayfarer model with substantial strips of polished metal on the temples, and the take-no-shit metal-frame Custer. These shades aren’t inexpensive—over $100 apiece—but neither are they horrifyingly extortionate like Armani, Prada, or, dare I say it, some offerings from even the mainstream outdoor brands.

Perhaps George Hincapie could get away with those Oakleys full time.

Perhaps.

Thankfully for all the rest of us, now there’s IVI.

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