The phrase “fashionable running sunglasses” is oxymoronic: Running shades are typically characterized by dorky-looking aerodynamic frames and oversized lenses. Some companies make more lifestyle-oriented athletic sunnies, with basic ovular lenses, like the Native Penrose. But the concept of fashion-forward, stylized frames that are durable and stay put on your face while running? Ridiculous.
Not any more. On Thursday, Boston-based running brand Tracksmith—known for high-end construction and simple, classic designs in athletic apparel—launched its first pair of shades, a limited-edition collaboration with U.S.-based high-end eyewear maker Article One. Their co-creation, the Charles ($255), is designed to marry top-end Italian construction and trendy design with the secure, fogless fit and durability runners need. At first glance, the combination of craftsmanship and quality materials suggests they may live up to that goal, as well as the high price tag.
The Charles look like the kind of glasses you’d see lining the shelves of a fancy eyewear shop, featuring a subtle cat-eye shape with a decorative cutout at the nose. They sit farther away from your face than typical running sunglasses, too—no wraparound or bug-eye lenses.
But a closer look reveals a host of features ideal for sport. The frames are made out of flexible Swiss thermoplastic that bends rather than breaking under pressure. They’re so light I barely noticed them on my face, but grippy, adjustable rubber nose pads and small rubber strips on the ear pieces helped them stay put during a morning run.
These shades certainly aren’t as protective as a tight-fitting, aero frame that hugs your face, and they wouldn’t be my first choice for long, mountainous trail runs that involve lots of jostling and peripheral glare. But the sleek styling and breezy, away-from-face fit make them great companions for fast runs or casual hikes.
Tracksmith may not be offering new, groundbreaking optical technology or aerodynamic design. But it has created something revolutionary in a different way by offering runners a pair of good-looking sunglasses that can pull double duty.