The Oakley history consists of years of innovation and new product technologies that have led to 600 worldwide patents and the evolution of a leading and instantly recognisable multinational brand. The Oakley brand epitomises excellence and the answer to challenges confronting those who cannot and will not negotiate when it comes to performance. Here we take a look at some of the most interesting innovations…
Oakley Eyeshades. Cyclists went through the bulk of the 20th century with no eye protection whatsoever. Then, in 1984, Oakley founder, Jim Jannard, created what would eventually become known as the Eyeshade. It offered huge benefits: a shatter-proof lens, excellent optics, a sweat pad along the brow, and no-stick nose pads. Greg LeMond famously landed on the podium in the `85 Tour de France Three-time winner of the Tour de France (1986, 1989, and 1990), LeMond is considered by many to be the greatest American cyclist of all time, one of the great all-round cyclists of the modern era, and an icon of the sport's globalisation.
Oakley Over The Top. Olympic Competitors, Trinidad and Tobago sprinters, Nicconner Alexander and Ato Bolton at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Labeled the coolest sunglasses ever made, also known as the weirdest sunglasses ever made. In August of 2020 Oakley re-released the Over The Top as a part of the “Concept Studio” collection in a Gold Fade / Prizm 24K Gold Iridium Polarized color-way. Only 20 were produced, and of course sold out instantly, even with the high price tag of $2,000!
Oakley Blades. The above image shows Jason Ford, shot by Gunars Elmuts in 1993. Oakley sold between 50,000 and 300,000 pairs per year during the original products’ eight-year production run. To put this all in perspective, minimum wage back in 1987 was a whopping $3.35 an hour. A pair of Blades, consequently, cost you a week’s worth of washing dishes and mopping floors during their heyday.
Oakley Mars. The Oakley Mars Sunglasses first reached the public in March of 1998. To produce the Mars it took a six-ton generator with 425,000 watts of power to push the five-axis machining that maintained a .0005″ precision as it created the X-Metal frame. The complex process and radical design led to the frame only being produced for a few short years.
Still in that time, the Mars made a splash. In 1999, they were featured on the face of Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Shortly after they appeared in 2002’s Blade II on the face of a vampire towards the end of the film. Both films were a perfect fit for this disruptive design produced in the USA that embodied Oakley.
Oakley Thump 1.0 MP3. The above image shows Ichiro Suzuki, former Japanese professional baseball outfielder mid game, 2004. The Oakley Thump is basically two products combined into one: sunglasses and a small, flash-based 256MB MP3 player. With a maximum of 256 MB of memory, you could store up to 60 of your favorite songs with a battery life of around 6 hours. Not that it needs any more novelty, but the Thump also has lenses that flip up in case you want to keep listening after it clouds over.
Oakley Romeo. Another Oakley to hit the big screen… The world’s first 3-D sculptured, hypoallergenic, all-metal frame. Its futuristic style quickly drew the attention of Hollywood. In perhaps their most famous appearance, a pair worn by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2 detonates shortly after displaying a message. Romeos also feature in Blade II, Spiderman, and the second Boondock Saints.