Athlete-Favorite Rudy Project Makes More Than Performance Sunglasses

What happens when a sports performance company takes on the world of fashion?

You are living in a glorious time when the codes of dressing have bled so much into one another that you don’t raise your eyebrows when confronted with trousers with an elasticized waist or a hoodie made of croc skin.

“Fashion wants something comfortable, and the sports world wants something… not ugly,” affirms Claudio Fantin, export manager of Rudy Project. He scrolls to a photo of a woman wearing a neon green tunic dress over a faded blue elephant-leg trousers on his iPhone. Over her eyes is the coolest pair of sunglasses—a construct of yellow frame plus mirrored lens that gives off the feeling of Most Eccentric Person from Future World.

Those specs? Rudy Project. “It is amazing to see them wear it,” beams Fantin. “In London Fashion Week, designer [Fyodor Golan] asked for our specific sunglasses for a fashion show.” When the Italian performance eyewear company turned 30 in 2016, they celebrated the becoming-old milestone by doing something audacious: They decided to take on the scary world of fashion. 

The move isn’t really a stretch. Rudy Project’s expertise lies in the creation of solutions for thousands of athletes like Formula One driver Jenson Button or triathlon star Andy Potts. And these super humans, notes Fantin, are also “extremely cool artists who love to appear in a certain way.” In other words, fashionable.

“Try this,” says Fantin, offering the Rydon, their most iconic creation (the ones that look they came straight out of The Matrix), which is now rendered in 18-karat gold lenses. There is also the Astro Loop, a pair with a curvier frame, an extended top bar, and smoky black lens. 


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The two models express Rudy’s foray into style in two ways: The golden Rydon feels like a sports object wearing new clothes, but the Astro Loop looks unlike anything the company has ever created. It’s more wearable, overlarge, and certainly the chicest frames to come out of the workshop. 

The coat of gold and fresh form are designed to draw attention, but the tech remains. “Never ever forget that sunglasses, besides the fact that it is super cool, is a safety device for the eyes,” says founder Rudy Barbazza in a raspy Italian (translated in English by Fantin). “It protects your eyes form the UV rays of the sun, so the number one issue is: How good are the lenses?” 

Rudy Project founder Rudy Barbazza wears the Astro Loop, a new pair of sunglasses that combines decades of innovations in sports performance with the “f” word: fashion.



Several years ago, Rudy Project introduced the ImpactX lens, a revolution in the sports sunglasses market. The virtually indestructible lens eliminates distortion, which prevents dizzy spells, and features photochromatic activation, as in the lens color changes based on the light. There is also the grilamid chassis, an anallergenic, elastic, and “absolutely very strong” material that can survive the crushing weight of your stone bum if in case you sit on your suns. 

Both innovations, along with other performance and ergonomic features, have been applied to the new line. “These are all technical issues, and I don't want you to get bored,” says Barbazza. “But behind these nice looking sunglasses is amazing technology.” If you’ve only thought of Rudy Project as cycling shields that come in out-of-this-world shapes, it’s time to see them anew. 


Alabang Town Center, Bonifacio High Street, Podium, SM Mall of Asia, Trinoma  

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Clifford Olanday
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