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HomemifashionSalomon: By Athletes, For Athletes

Salomon: By Athletes, For Athletes

Next month (March), some of the best skiers and snowboarders on the planet will battle it out at the 2012 Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships in Taos – one of a handful of elite Freeride events around the world. The event sponsor, Salomon, is considered the ‘king’ of high-tech alpine eyewear designed by extreme athletes for extreme sports.

The Salomon brand has long been known for sports equipment. It was established way back in 1947 in the heart of France’s Alpine region by Francois Salomon whose passion for skiing drove him to design and perfect many of the first modern ski bindings. He went on to design skis, boots, accessories and apparel for alpine and Nordic skiing, as well as innovations for snow boarding adventure racing, mountaineering, hiking, trail running, and many other sports.

While the Alpine loving family is no longer in control of the company (they sold to the Adidas Group in 1997 which in 2005 sold the brand to Amer Sports of Finland) the brand continues to evolve with alpine activity in mind.

The brand’s eyewear is no different. It’s designed and manufactured under license by Logo Europe, a company dedicated to pursuing the Salomon philosophy of performance led design. Logo Group took on the license for Salomon Eyewear in 2009. The company distributes Salomon throughout Europe and entered an agreement to distribute in Australia through Shaan in late 2011.

The challenge was to design the smallest possible wrap-around sundglasses with proper eye protection

Designed by Athletes for Athletes

Logo engages trail running and ski athletes from the extraordinarily talented, world famous Salomon Team to work closely with its engineers on new eyewear designs and innovations.

“80 per cent of an athlete’s real-time information comes from vision, so good eyewear design is essential for the sports success,” said Stephane Arnauld, Salomon’s Eyewear European Sales Manager.

“Our aim is to produce eyewear for athletes that is fast and light – because with light products you can go fast!”

While technology and innovation play a big part in designing sports oriented eyewear, fashion styling is also important. Mr. Arnauld said his designers look to a range of sources when coming up with new designs for each collection.

“Furniture, apparel, we look at so many things to inspire the materials we use, the colours and shapes. But its complicated to integrate functionality and styling – technology has limitations – so our priority must be functionality.

“For instance, the way the frame fits to the face is vital. Sunglasses are the foundation of eye protection so the eyewear we design must ensure maximum protection and provide a wide field of vision.

“The temples must be designed to rest securely on the wearer’s head and provide minimum pressure on the temple bone – yet they have to fit securely so that when athletes – like Team Salomon – are under intense pressure in competition, they are barely aware of the glasses on their face.”

Salomon’s Fusion range, which was nominated for a Silmo award in 2011, has a special temple end design with two support points that distribute pressure evenly to increase comfort. On top of that, the glasses, which weigh in at just 29grams, have rubber-lined temples for extra grip and injected nosepads on an adjustable metal bridge.

Mr. Arnauld said the nose-pad is especially important. “We favour an adjustable nose pad made from rubber which doesn’t slip even with perspiration or vibrations – it’s so important for snow sports, bike riding and running.” The same lightweight, flexible elastomer, which was designed by the Salomon research and design team and used on the nose pad is used for the temples.

Patented Bubble

In keeping with its focus on innovative design, Salomon recently patented a ‘smart pack system’ for its Bubble range of ‘mask’ sunglasses. Mr. Arnauld said the purpose of this innovation is to maximise convenience for the wearer. Despite providing a wide wrap around toric lens for eye protection, these frames fold at the bridge and the temples rotate and telescope. The result is a smart compact parcel that can be slipped into a top pocket when not in use.

Speaking of the team’s design ambitions for the Bubble, Salomon designer, Philippe Grandvaux said, “We wanted to create something new for people who carry only the bare essentials. The challenge was to design the smallest possible wrap-around sunglasses with proper eye protection – a mask sunglass that fits into your pocket”.

Lenses for High Altitudes

Logo Europe is no newcomer to high quality eyewear. Since its establishment in 1896 the firm has specialised in manufacturing eyeglass frames for motorbike riders and motorcar drivers. As such, lenses are all important which is why the company teamed up with BNL – a unit of the Essilor Group – for its Salomon collections.

“The UV rays are intense in the mountains – in fact the intensity increases by about 10 per cent with every 1,000 metres you climb. We keep that in mind when we’re designing eyewear for our athletes who spend much of their training and competing time in the Alpine regions,” said Mr. Arnauld. “They can only sustain 100 per cent performance if their eyes are comfortable and the lenses quickly and effectively adapt to changes in luminosity.”

Protection against UV rays and glare is essential – there are several short and long term risks related to solar radiation including visual fatigue, inflammation of the cornea and premature tissue damage.

For safety and comfort in extreme circumstances, Salomon’s lenses are composed of polycarbonate. They offer 100 per cent UV protection, and are decentred to address the issue of visual distortion, which can occur in high curved frame designs. Mr. Arnaud said each model is tested extensively, not only in the factory but by athletes, under intense performance conditions.

“Our athletes are involved all the way through the process – from the initial design and choice of materials, to fitting and testing procedures in real world conditions – that enables us to achieve optimal vision and protection.”

Styling, colour and innovations for next season’s Salomon eyewear are still under wraps and Mr. Arnaud refused to give mivision even a hint as to what to expect… but if Logo Group’s first two years with the brand are anything to go by, we can be sure that there will be plenty of sleekly styled, high tech sports eyewear coming right up.