Oakley Fan Bags a Flying Tiger
Tatsuya Shiga wasn’t shopping for a piece of history that day, but that’s what he walked out with.
Shiga, an avid golfer and Oakley fan, visited the O Store at Oakley Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA, last week in search of some new Oakley sunglasses and a new O icon for the side of his Gascans®. While perusing the store, Shiga’s eye was caught by a tour-sized leather golf bag designed to look like the legendary, World War II era Flying Tiger aircraft.
“I loved the shape and design,” Shiga said. “It’s so unique, with the shark and the big teeth on the side. It’s very unique. Very Oakley.”
That’s for sure. The Flying Tiger bag was so Oakley, in fact, that only one was ever made—and it now holds a prominent place on display in Shiga’s Orange County home.
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The Flying Tiger bag began in 2008 as part of healthy competition between two of Oakley’s international divisions. Oakley Australia and Oakley Japan had begun to design tour-sized golf bags, some featuring skulls and other striking visuals, and their products caught the eye of Oakley CEO Colin Baden.
“Colin was hip to it,” says Tony Zentil, Oakley product manager for accessories,” but he thought we could beat it. He thought we could do something more interesting.”
True to its track record, the Oakley USA design team saw the golf bag as a huge blank canvas waiting to be decorated with Oakley attitude and stunning graphics. The result was a prototype featuring the Flying Tiger design from the P-51 aircraft used by American volunteer fighter pilots in World War II.
Though they were dazzled by the design, Oakley senior management ultimately decided that a large-scale production of the bags would be cost-prohibitive. The prototype became a source of company pride nonetheless, and recently it was decided that the Flying Tiger bag would be showcased in the Oakley Store in the lobby of Oakley Headquarters.
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Andrew Kreger leans against a steel wall in the Foothill Ranch Oakley Store where he works, his black beard and black Oakley hat draw attention to his eyes, which are open wide as he describes the experience of selling a piece of Oakley history.
“I saw that thing the day it was brought down here and I thought it was so rad,” Kreger says. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m definitely going to sell this.’”
Kreger’s premonition came true just days later when Shiga, a father of three, came into the store and the bag caught the corner of his eye.
“He asked a few questions about it,” Kreger recalls, “Wanted to know if we made it and stuff like that.”
A few minutes and $1000 later, Shiga strode out of the store with a little piece of Oakley lore.
“I don’t know if I want to use it,” Shiga says. “It’s in the middle of a table at my house and my kids are walking up to it and saying, ‘Wow, this is great!’”
Thanks for the compliment, kids.