“In 2016, running is no longer something you go and do for 30 minutes as a workout or a sport that’s limited to track and field teams,” said Tom Daly, the co-founder of performance eyewear brand District Vision. “It’s a way of life and a forum for self-expression, both in an urban context and on the trails from Colorado to Upstate New York.” Along with Max Vallot, Daly launched District Vision in late 2015 with a single frame, the Keiichi. Designed and tested in New York, the sunglasses are handmade in Japan, made of incredibly lightweight impact-resistant nylon. Along with the frames, the brand has set out to create a community through a series of talks and pre-race meditation sessions to help people achieve better physical and mental health. “It can also be a holistic path to self-transformation if it’s approached in a certain way.”
Steeped in the fashion world — Vallot worked at Saint Laurent and Daly worked at Acne — the founders found an appreciation of wellness through different paths. Vallot immersed himself in Iyengar yoga and meditation while Daly took up long-distance running and joined New York’s Black Roses running collective. They both wanted to create a brand that supported their newfound appreciation for wellness activities, so they came up with the idea of a fashion-inspired, athlete-focused sunglass brand and spent two years testing and developing prototypes. “You see a lot of new activewear brands coming out these days because it’s an attractive market right now,” Vallot said. “We’re interested in business as well, but, first and foremost, District Vision is based on the way our lives have evolved and on what we feel the world needs today.”
District Vision offers two distinct frame shapes, each weighing just 22 grams. The Keiichi model (starting at $199) is a twist on the familiar Wayfayer frame with a flared lens shape, and the Nagata model (starting at $249) is an homage to athletic aviator-style eyewear of years past. The frames are impact resistant and sweat repellant, and feature an adjustable nose pad and temple tips for personal comfort. District Vision offers three types of shatterproof lenses — Sky G15 (full UV protection), Sports Yellow (for visibility in low light) and Water Gray (polarized lenses to minimize glare from water).
This August, I ran with a pair of Keiichi glasses throughout New York City. After tweaking the nose pad, the frames didn’t slip during sweat-drenched workouts. Though the glasses are distinct in their styling, they are unobtrusive to wear. I forgot about them and focused on my stride, the next hill and the extra mile. For high intensity workouts, I attached an included sports strap to the temple tips. The patterned strap — a water-repellent elastic ribbon handwoven in a kimono factory — gave an extra layer of security, holding the glasses snug to my face.
The glasses are available at luxury retailers like Dover Street Market and Barneys, as well as District Vision’s website. As the team looks to expand their line of products, they haven’t strayed from their mission. “District Vision makes tools for running, and we feel like meditation is a super powerful tool that runners can benefit from, to inform their training and life in general,” Vallot said. “Applying some of this philosophy and the techniques to running has been an interesting experiment and it’s something we’re continuing to explore.”