Disruptive By Design: The History of Oakley Sport Performance Eyewear

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Oakley, pure and simple? Here it is: We’re a company that believes nothing worth a damn has ever been created by following the rules. Like the athletes who have worn our sports performance sunglasses over the past three decades, we’re used to acknowledging boundaries—then blowing right by them.

Oakley eyewear has both literally and figuratively changed the face of performance sports. Our sunglasses and goggles have ridden shotgun on a heaping scoop of the most iconic and awe-inspiring moments in sports history—Lance Armstrong’s first post-cancer Tour de France victory, Shaun White’s gold-medal-winning double McTwist 1260, and the list goes on. Oakley’s history is replete with triumphs over the tried and true, and built on the company’s commitment to disrupt the norm with our designs and technologies.

The Genesis: O Frame® MX Goggle, 1980
Five years after the company was founded, Oakley introduced our first performance eyewear: the O Frame MX goggle. With a low profile and an optimized fit, it opened peripheral and downward vision for MX pros like Jeff Ward and Ricky Johnson. Awarded patents for design and technology, the O Frame MX became a mainstay in the sport for nearly two decades.

The First Salvo: Eyeshades®, 1984
There was a time when sunglasses were considered a mere accessory, but Eyeshades changed that forever. Want proof? In 1986, when Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France, he did it wearing a pair of Eyeshades.

Why? For starters, Eyeshades introduced the world to Unobtainium®, a soft, rubbery, Oakley-engineered miracle that increases grip with perspiration. Originally developed for Oakley motorcycle handgrips (the company’s first-ever product), we employed Unobtainium to make Eyeshades fit securely even during competition. Furthermore, the wide-open design of Eyeshade extended peripheral vision without compromising clarity. From this invention on, sunglasses were considered vital equipment for sports performance.

The Legend: M Frame®, 1990
For a company hell-bent on helping our athletes blow past the status quo of sports performance, there can be no greater validation than this fact: Athletes wearing the Oakley M Frame have won more championships and medals than with any other single sport product on earth. Durable and lightweight, M Frame is the most successful performance sunglass in history, worn by legends like Lance Armstrong, Tony Gwynn and Brian Lara. If you’re a fan of Oakley’s Bloody Eye blog, you know it’s gushing with stories of competitive athletes and weekend warriors alike who credit their M Frames with saving their eyes during crashes.

The Revolutionary: Half Jacket®, 2002
When the morning haze burns away or the sun plays hide-and-seek with clouds, performance athletes have to adapt in order to conquer. That’s why we invented Half Jacket, the world’s first dual-spherical frame with fully interchangeable lenses of optically pure Plutonite®. The rimless design means there’s nothing to get in the way of downward vision—a critical benefit for activities like cycling and running.

The Reinvention: Radar™, 2007
When Normann Stadler crossed the finish line to win Ironman 2006, thirty years of optical innovation crossed the line with him. Like many athletes in the grueling competition, he was wearing Oakley Radar. Radar was engineered with Hydrophobic lens technology that repels water and sweat while making the lens surface immune to oils and contaminates that corrupt vision. To keep the heat of competition from swamping you with sweat, the frame geometry creates a cooling flow of air and also fits well inside a helmet. Based on elevated sculptural physics, Radar’s interchangeable lenses connect to a vented stem, which maintains comfort and grip for extreme maneuvers in the air or on the ground. Simply put, we thought of everything.

The Dual-Lens Dynamo: Flak Jacket®, 2007
The dual-lens brother to Radar, the Flak Jacket is one of the most popular all-purpose sunglasses Oakley has ever engineered. It quickly became a favorite among athletes due to its extraordinarily lightweight composition and comfortable fit. Major League Baseball players like American League MVP Josh Hamilton and five-time all-star Chase Utley are frequently seen wearing Flak Jackets, as are athletes from a variety of other sports from speed skating to mountain biking.

The Crossover: Enduring®, 2008
Enduring was the world’s first sports performance eyewear made exclusively for women. Why? Because female athletes demand the best performance eyewear on the planet, but they want it without a masculine fit. That’s why we collaborated with top female athletes to create Enduring with a fit and style made exclusively for women. Enduring’s lens curvature helps protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the wrinkling rays of ultraviolet light.

The Game-Changer: Jawbone®, 2009
After thirty-plus years of killer lens innovations, we decided to see how far we could take frame technology. The answer? Really, really far. With Jawbone, Oakley unveiled SwitchLockTM technology, a never-before-seen breakthrough in frame mechanics. With SwitchLock, the lower part of the frame rim opens to allow easy access for quick lens changing, and a suspension system holds the lenses in place so stresses on the frame do not affect the optics. The proprietary technology is combined with our premium lens innovations to give athletes a level of visual clarity and protection unrivaled in the industry.

The Peak Performer: Commit®, 2010
Made exclusively for women, Commit reinvents everything the world knows about comfort, fit and style with the kind of bold beauty that celebrates the power and grace of the female form.

The Next Big Thing: Fast Jacket®, 2011
Fast Jacket, the next evolution of Oakley sport performance eyewear, is coming soon.