Oakley’s New Kato Sunglasses Look Like Cyclops’s Visor for a Reason
Late last fall, professional cyclist Chris Froome was spotted rocking a pair of previously unseen Oakley sunglasses during the Vuelta a España, a 21-stage Grand Tour race that winds around the Iberian peninsula. The sleek, all-black shades bore Oakley’s signature wraparound design, but seemed to lack a frame entirely — and included a unique extension of the one-piece lens over the bridge of the nose.
Half a year later, Oakley has revealed the mysterious shades. Meet: the Oakley Kato.
True to speculation, the Kato is strange — mask-like and completely frameless. Oakley figured out how to get rid of the extra plastic with something it calls “free-form lens technology,” which puts frame-mimicking points of rigidity right in the lens — notice how the lens gets thicker and flares outward at the forehead, like a frame. Oakley says that building the glasses this way brings the lens closer to the face.
The Kato’s feature set doesn’t stop with the frameless design either. It has a place for rubberized nose pads that is seemingly stuck right onto the back of the lens and comes with three different sizes. Plus, its sidearms rotate, changing the tilt of the glasses to accommodate variations in face shape while maintaining the close fit.
Oakley worked with athletes including Patrick Mahomes, Mark Cavendish, Nigel Sylvester and Joseph Newgarden to finetune the Kato’s fit, and elite athletes will continue to rock the shades in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. It calls to mind the moment when sprinter Ato Boldon stepped onto the track of 2000 Sydney games wearing Oakley’s wild OVERTHETOP sport glasses.
It seemed as though Boldon pulled his sunglasses out of a comic book, and it was hard for cycling fans not to comment on Froome’s mask-like shades with references to Batman. They have the wrong superhero, though; while it makes no explicit mention of the character, Oakley seems to be referencing Kato, the Green Hornet’s masked sidekick, who Bruce Lee famously played on the 1960s TV show.
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