The name Oakley is most definitely synonymous with sunglasses, but it is also a company known for making quality sports gear that includes everything from visors and goggles to backpacks, shoes, and more. In fact, the company is so prolific in its design and creation of the best performance gear that it has more than 600 patents.
Started in 1975 in James Jannard's garage, and with only $300 in startup capital, the company began only manufacturing motorcycle grips. These were no ordinary grips, however, because they used a product that had been custom designed by Jannard. It is used still in many Oakley products, but this was the first appearance it had made on the market.
Jannard sold directly to customers at motocross events and was such a success that he soon expanded his line to include all kinds of guards and gloves for motocross riders. He then created a pair of goggles that he labeled as "O" frames, and which featured his new Oakley logo. These were a hit, and soon the ski industry came calling.
This led Jannard into the creation of sunglasses, the first using the same goggle-like design, and then another model with casual wear as the goal. Within twenty years the firm had grown to such an extent that it had its first IPO, but within a year it suffered a big loss after a dispute with Luxottica - a major manufacturer and retailer of sunglasses.
This is an interesting turn of events in the history of Oakley because today it is under the umbrella of the Luxottica company. The way it panned out is very interesting. Oakley recovered from the 1996 turmoil and purchased Iacon, Inc. This helped them to appear widely in malls, and then they enhanced their strength through a partnership with Fox Racing. In 2006, Oakley acquired Oliver Peoples and Optical Shop of Aspen. By then, the firm was in a solid position in the industry, and that is when Luxottica offered to acquire it. Today it is partnered up with Ray-Ban and Vogue among other high end eyewear firms. They are also part of ESS as well.
What this means is that today's shoppers can find Oakley alongside:
Paul Smith Spectacles
Eye Safety Systems
The company also has retail stores with products available, and these include:
The Optical Shop of Aspen
What to Expect From Oakley
With a solid reputation as a major innovator, buyers have come to rely on Oakley for performance and durability. Fortunately, the firm also keeps an eye on fashion and that makes it possible for buyers to easily find good looking eyewear that can really deliver.
For example, Oakley provides many US military groups and law enforcement agencies with standard issue eyewear. They can do this because they have put so much testing and technology into all of the models they make available. However, the company firmly believes that any new product should feature a design "philosophy" that they refer to as sculptural physics. In other words, their designers are set the task of answering user's problems with science and then surrounding that science in good looking and wearable art.
They do this so well that their products appear in over 100 countries and include categories such as:
Sunglasses - Feature rich and known as some of the best sunglasses available
Goggles - Suitable to motocross, snowboarding, BMX, skiing, and mountain biking
Electronics - Personal audio systems embedded into eyewear, including their impressive THUMP technology
Apparel - High performance garments designed for function and comfort
Footwear - Includes men's and women's footwear for golf as well as other activities. Lineup features sandals, sneakers, and more
Accessories - Fashionable and functional, these include wallets, belts, packs, cases, and more
Watches - Some of their watches feature the patented inertial generator that uses body motion to create energy in the watch
It is easy to see just how and why Oakley is still seen as an innovative firm. Going well beyond sunglasses, the company has continually expanded its areas of expertise in order to provide some of the best performance gear on the market.
Oakley. Oakley Profile. Oakley.com. 2014. http://www.oakley.com/about/profile