Inspired by the skiers and mountaineers of yesteryear, this new Swiss brand is bringing their ski sunglasses and goggles to the states.
You’ve got to admit: Old-school skiers, alpinists, and mountaineers had style. Just sift through your grandma’s old ski gear, onesies, and the like.
But what they didn’t have back then was the technology to make gear lightweight, long-lasting, and comfortable. Enter VALLON, a new sunglasses and goggles brand updating vintage styles with 21st-century materials, like iconic aviators once worn by a young, effortlessly cool Robert Redford.
This winter, VALLON unveiled the Freebird Goggles in the U.S., adding to its small collection of five styles. And with it, founders Marcus and Richard Franck aim to carve out a space in the crowded American eyewear market with a commitment to styles of decades past.
VALLON: New Brand, Old Style
The brothers first wanted to start an affordable, ski-touring-specific sunglasses brand. At the time of founding in 2018, the duo also ran the Instagram account Old Schoolers, dedicated to the history of skiing. Soon enough, the two ideas became one: ski eyewear inspired by skiing’s history.
During a trip to Milan, Italy, Marcus picked up a pair of glacier goggles in an obscure eyewear shop, cluttered with collectibles and dead stock. The thrifted find led to VALLON’s first model of glacier goggles, brought into the modern day with shatterproof lenses, anti-fog technology, and lightweight polycarbonate.
“It felt very natural for us to look at the past, at the pioneers for our inspiration and re-create these classic styles with modern performance materials,” Marcus said.
VALLON Ski Glasses
Those first glacier goggles now come in three different styles ($85-105): Heron Ocean, Heron Mountain 2.0, and Heron Glacier 2.0.
VALLON’s newest model, the Freebird Goggles ($120), features a multicolored, striped band as an ode to the ‘70s European look. But triple-layer foam, anti-scratch lenses, and helmet compatibility mean they’re much safer and comfier than your grandpa’s old pair.
The Ski Aviators ($80) pay homage to the Robert Redford era. Nylon lenses and cellulose acetate frames make the pair lightweight, and mirror-coated lenses reflect harsh light and filter out UVA and UVB rays.
“The aesthetic of your gear is part of the whole experience,” Marcus said. “That style sort of got lost on the mountain. You see it more in apres-ski style now, but we’re taking the classic designs and reinventing them for functionality.”
VALLON means “small valley” in French, and the brand is based in Verbier, Switzerland. But it’s gaining popularity in the U.S. Orders over $45 ship anywhere in the states for free. And VALLON’s environmental commitment means that for every pair sold, about 2 pounds of plastic is collected and recycled on the buyer’s behalf.
The brand thinks you should be as nostalgic as you want, but stop trying to make your grandma’s antique aviators work. That’s where VALLON comes in.