Interview w/ District Vision Co-Founders Tom Daly and Max Vallot
Formed in 2015 by co-founders Tom Daly and Max Vallot, District Vision is an eyewear and apparel company based out of New York City. Combining running with mindfulness practices, District Vision approaches their design and manufacturing process with a holistic approach to address the full spectrum of runners’ needs. We recently interviewed Tom and Max about their company, their inspirations, and their unique approach to running.
You both met at university in London over ten years ago. How did your journey together lead you both to New York?
DV: We met at University. The only two kids with long greasy hair trying to fit in at business school in London. In hindsight, it felt like exciting timing in London with people from music, art and fashion backgrounds came together.
What inspired you and Max to start an apparel company?
DV: In some ways it started as a form of self therapy. We wanted to create a project that reflected how our lives had changed. We already had started our creative agency 2 years before which we still continue to work with today.
In your life journey, how did running and mediation end up as a core part of your identity?
DV: Different forms of trauma. I suppose you go through life and things happen to you. Over time you develop a toolbox to deal with the things that happen to you and running/meditation was that for us.
Yoga and mindfulness seem to be a foundation of your running philosophy. Can you tell us more about that, and how your Mindful Athlete Program introduces other runners to that lifestyle?
DV: We always looked at this project as a tool to serve our group of runners. We looked to them to tell us what was needed and / or missing in their toolbox whether that’s a physical tool or mentally driven approach. MAP believes that Running is at least as much mental practice as physical pursuit. A harmonious dialogue between mind and body naturally leads to improvements in athletic performance. But can running become a form of meditation, a path towards self-knowledge? Is there a way to prepare for this state? These are the questions we explore.
How does your approach to running and mindfulness influence District Vision’s apparel?
DV: It undoubtedly informs everything we do and how we do it. The guiding principle of the Air––Wear program was the breathability of the skin and body temperature. It’s based off the idea that we are best to tune into the innate intelligence of our body in thinking how to dress it for sport. Additionally we currently manufacture only in Japan and USA. We try to offer a real transparency in the supply chain. It’s nice to know who made your product. That’s why all our frames are named after members of our team in Japan.
It seems that current running sunglasses lean heavily towards the classic Wayfarer style for relaxed running or the traditional Oakley’s athletic style for serious athletes. Your Keiichi style is different. What sets it apart and what influences its design?
DV: Our eyewear system design philosophy was driven by three guiding principles: comfort, weight and durability. Here is maybe a good example of how we address specific athlete needs through our approach to mindfulness by breaking the concept down further to meet the needs of the performance situation.
Tell us more about your partnership with Salomon for your two models of trail running shoes (which are fire by the way).
DV: With Salomon we explored the question of enhancing the lifetime of a runner through understanding the sensory intelligence of the foot. The result of this was a technical mountain running shoe.
What do you think is missing in the running apparel industry?
DV: It’s beautiful to see the development of sports and mindfulness from a consolidated marketplace to a fragmented and specialized marketplace for all your needs.
You have a full Saturday morning on a perfect fall day in New York. Where are you running and what are you doing post-run?
DV: I live in Soho and tend to run at 6 am so Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges make an interesting loop that would be only possible at that time.
Where can our readers buy your apparel?
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