The result is Black Light – a four-part layering system that doesn’t look or feel anything like high vis gear. In fact, it’s deliberately the exact opposite. It’s incredibly lightweight, it’s soft, it’s stretchy, it’s breathable and it’s minimalist. And because we’ve started with the science of how you actually see someone at night, we’ve been able to make every square centimetre of the entire system black.
Before getting into the science of high visibility there were two main problems we wanted to solve. The first was getting rid of the outdated idea that you have to wear a specific layer like a vest or jacket to be seen. When it comes to sport, the idea that you become more or less safe as you take off or add layers is backwards. You shouldn’t have to make a choice between over-heating and being seen. This made the idea for the range very simple. We wanted every single layer to provide exactly the same high visibility protection in exactly the same way. Which means you’ll be just as safe wearing just a t shirt as you will be wearing a jacket.
The second problem was what high vis gear looks like during the day – the typical blend of random silver patterns and cheap garish colours. We wanted it to look cool, unobtrusive, and not like you’re wearing high vis gear at all, so we opted for utter minimalism, making all four pieces the same subtle blend of matt black hues as a stealth bomber. You’ll find every detail is black, from the Swiss and Italian materials to the waterproof zips, the seams, the logo, even the reflective black glass dots.
Which brings us on to how it’s even possible to make high-vis sports gear that’s also entirely black.
On the surface of each layer you’ll find a series of small black dots. You won’t really notice them during the day as they’re flush to the material and have a rubberised look. But at night they kick into life when hit by light. Whether it’s car headlights, a torch or a helicopter search light, they transform from matt black into glowing discs of bright white light.
While most high vis gear uses ugly thick silver reflective tapes or stripes, ours doesn’t. Instead we’ve custom made thousands of these super-thin reflective matt black dots. The science behind them is simple. Each dot has over 60,000 microscopic black glass spheres embedded in its surface. You can’t see or feel the glass though, as each dot is soft, flat, flexible, completely smooth to the touch and weighs a fraction of a gram.
While so much high vis gear is based on a terrible blend of bad aesthetics or low-cost practicality, the Black Light range is simply based on science. The dots are all positioned on the parts of your body that move the most – like your elbows, wrists, shoulders and hips – so that when they light up they create a pattern that’s instantly recognisable as a person from any angle.
How does that work?
Well colour is useless in the dark as our eyes can’t see it. Instead our brain’s ‘pattern recognition system’ takes over. So we’ve designed our pattern of dots based on the science of seeing someone at night. As far back as the 1970s experimental psychologists showed how just 8 dots of light placed at key points on the body are all the information our eyes and brain need to understand we’re actually looking at a person, even in pitch black conditions. Our brains are so good at it, that in 0.25 of a second we can predict what they’re doing, where they’re going and how fast.
Your brain simply joins the dots.
The key is placing the dots of light on your body’s joints. So that’s what we’ve done. Whatever you’re doing, however fast you’re going, and almost whatever angle you’re seen from, we’ve designed the Black Light system so that at least 8 reflective dots will always be visible.