The Great Optical Brands: Oakley
Great brand stories often include a few doses of opportunity or serendipity. The Oakley brand is no exception to the rule. A look back at a brand that has established itself as a phenomenon in sports eyewear.
Oakley: from motorcycle grips to glasses
In the mid-1970s, Jim Jannard, an American businessman and designer, wanted to launch his motorcycle handlebar grip business. During his reflections, he walks his dog which has the strange tendency to lie down at the foot of an oak tree. He decided to name it "Oakley" (Oak means oak in English) and gave the same name to his brand.
His first handles, made from a new material called "unobtainium", began to experience some success when, in 1984, Jannard realized that this material would be ideal for making glasses. He therefore began manufacturing a first frame, called "O-Frame", always aimed at bikers, whose passion he shares.
Acquiring a little notoriety in the world of sport, a few experienced athletes, dissatisfied with their equipment and looking for equipment allowing them to boost their performance, took a close interest to these innovative products. Among them, a famous cyclist who will become the first muse of the brand.
Greg LeMond, first Oakley muse
At the end of the 1980s, the American cyclist was the best on the planet, winning the big loop three times, in 1986, 1989 and 1990. He became the first renowned ambassador of the brand, which created and then marketed a model specially designed for cycling based on the "O-frame" model but with a lighter frame and more efficient lenses.
This model called "Eyeshades" then becomes an immovable element of the runner's physique and personality. It will become a legendary object of professional cycling. The American wears them proudly today, he who points out that at the time of his beginnings, no cyclist wanted to wear a pair of glasses, and that he was subject to mockery from his competitors.
A brand specializing in sports…but not only!
Since then, the brand has clearly positioned itself in the sports sector, becoming essential and among the most innovative. Since its creation, Oakley has filed more than 600 patents, marking its ability to seek out the best in the world of sports optics. Its pioneering role is also perfectly recognized since the brand has diversified into many other sports, such as winter sports, surfing, skateboarding, fishing, running, golf and even e- sport.
But the brand's know-how also participates in the design and manufacture of optical frames for everyday life, importing its innovative materials for constant comfort . Certain frames, not designed for any sporting challenge, have also met with great success with the general public.
Oakley has therefore successfully turned to general optics while while maintaining this strong personality linked to sport. The brand, through its know-how and its constant desire to innovate, represents a perfect example of what a great optical brand is.