I can't be Don Draper, but I'll settle for his sunglasses

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The other day I had a very disturbing conversation with my wife. During an episode of Mad Men I announced that thenceforth I was going to model myself on Don Draper, the hirsute star of that show. She replied that she was horrified by this and would rather be married to Tony Soprano than to the Don.

The fact that my better half would take a murdering sociopath over a dapper advertising executive is worrying enough, but on the style front it's downright perverse. Don Draper may have a dysfunctional marriage and be carrying a large suitcase labelled "issues" wherever he goes, but his wardrobe is impeccable.

While the freewheeling Sixties explode around him, his choice of sharp suit, shirt and tie sets him apart. This is because, as a man who deals in image professionally, he understands the importance of provenance. Tony Soprano's take on this would be "back of a lorry", which is why he always looks as if he is dressed in knock-offs from the local sportswear outlet.

Thus, when Draper puts on a pair of sunglasses, it's no ordinary shades for which he reaches but a pair of Randolph Engineering Aviators, a cult style from the US that has just been reintroduced into the UK in time for that overdue spring we are awaiting.

Randolph Engineering was founded in 1972 by two engineers, Jan Waszkiewicz and Stanley Zaleski. Their mission: "to focus on advanced engineering principles in the manufacturing of premium performance eyewear". Their cool aviator style has since been championed by some heavyweight trendsetters such as Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now and Johnny Depp in Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

The brand also caught the eye of the American military and in 1982 the company become the prime contractor for aviation flight glasses for the US Department of Defence.
As you would expect from a company outfitting Uncle Sam's finest, Randolph is all about performance.

Its sunglasses are handcrafted, going through more than 200 production stages, and components are made from special alloys with tight molecular structure to guard against rusting and oxidation. The nose pads are made from soft silicone that prevents slipping, even when the wearer is perspiring.

The mineral glass lenses are exceptionally scratch-resistant and distortion-free. They absorb between 98 and 100 per cent of ultraviolet rays and allow 12-18 per cent of visible light to pass through, which is apparently the ideal comfort level for most wearers.

There is even a lifetime warranty on the solder joints.
One of the cute things about owning a pair of Randolphs is that with each pair you get a maintenance kit that looks like the kind of thing Jason Bourne might use to construct an impromptu radio.

So if you want to impress your friends with a pair of sunglasses that looks great but is also a super-functional piece of kit that can do the business in the cockpit of an F18, go for the classic Randolph Aviator, just like Don Draper.

The only problem here, in case you haven't spotted it, is that Mad Men, set in the early Sixties, predates Randolph's birth by about a decade. But, hey, isn't it just typical of Draper not to let a little thing like historical accuracy get in the way of looking good?

UK distributor: The Mandon Store www.themandonstore.co.uk

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