Surfer John John Florence builds sunglasses for life on the road

Surf champion John John Florence wanted a say in his sunglass options this year; screenshot taken from video
Surf champion John John Florence wanted a say in his sunglasses options this year. Screenshot taken from video

Recently, it seems like apparel companies have twisted the idea of athlete collaborations. Check out your favorite sports magazine and you're bound to find advertisements for products that either slap a famous name or face on them, dubbing them a Signature Series or Limited Edition Collab, but how much say are athletes actually putting into these products besides the permission to use their name? Did George Foreman really design a low fat grill? I'm just not buying it.

Neither was Vans World Cup surfing champion John John Florence. When the 20-year-old Hawaiian felt his eyewear options were lacking, he went to sponsor SPY Optic and suggested his own solution. He needed something portable and durable to fit his on-the-road lifestyle and had an idea for new folding sunglasses. SPY listened to their young surfer, and produced one of the most durable pairs of sunglasses in the game, the Fold.

We talked with SPY product director Juliette Koh to see just what went into John John Florence’s newest project, and here's what she had to say.

The Folds are easy to pack, strong, and don't look half bad either; photo by Kade Krichko
The Folds are easy to pack, strong, and don’t look half bad either. Photo by Kade Krichko

How did this collaboration come about? What type of influence or input did John John Florence have on the process?
The idea was all John John Florence's! He was inspired by an old folding sunglass his mom had and loved the versatility and ease of the frame, but wanted to update the look.

Were these glasses designed with a certain demographic in mind?
Who do these cater to? They were definitely designed for those who want a good-looking pair of sunglasses, but are always on the go. Nowadays people don’t want to carry a lot so the Fold travels compactly. When the sunglasses are in use the case can be folded down to a wallet size and put in the back pocket. Everything is multi-functional!

John John Florence
Getting airborne in just another day for John John Florence; screenshot taken from video

Folding glasses have been done before, but you guys had the difficult task of making them look good and still stay functional. How did you achieve that?
We combined the function of a folding glass with a clean design that was still masculine and tough. The bold straight top line of the frame front achieves that goal, and the vintage lens shape is very wearable. They also feature our innovative Happy Lens technology—a color- and contrast-enhancing lens that lets in the sun's "good" rays (long-wave blue light) that studies suggest create uplift in mood and alertness, while still blocking all of the "bad" rays (UV and short-wave blue light).

The Folds have a bunch of hinges and moving parts. How do you keep these things from breaking?
We use Grilamid—a light, yet durable material that is virtually indestructible. Our special blend makes it tough for everyday use, but still comfortable to wear all day.

John John Florence
John John Florence’s life beyond the green room is full of travel time, and he needed a pair of sunglasses built for the road. Screenshot taken from a video

My biggest worry with the glasses is that the lenses face out when folded, leaving them vulnerable to scratching. What type of features did you guys think of to keep the lenses safe?
All lenses are hard coated to prevent scratches, but they also come with a custom case that features a soft lining to prevent further scratches during storage. As an added bonus, the case doubles as a wallet!

Do you guys have anything else in the works with John John Florence or any other projects we should keep our eyes open for?
Next year we will be expanding the current selection of John John's signature Fold colorways to include three new color options as well as additional Happy Lens colors. The three new options will include Matte Black w/ Happy Blue Spectra, 1956/Black w/ Happy Bronze, and Matte Camo Tort w/ Happy Green Spectra.

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