Now Reading
How Oakley Evolved From Sports Gear to a Versatile Performance and Lifestyle Brand

How Oakley Evolved From Sports Gear to a Versatile Performance and Lifestyle Brand

Few brands in the sporting goods industry have the same impact and recognizability as Oakley. Last year, Oakley’s revenue surpassed $500 million, and they currently employ over 1,000 employees. Whether for running, cycling, golf, or other sports activities, the brand has become a staple for athletes and those who want a high-performing pair of shades. Since the brand’s creation in the 1970s, the business has been deeply embedded in sports gear and equipment history. While Oakley is most well-known for its iconic eyewear, it went through many changes and a radical evolution to become the notable industry name it is today. But what has allowed them to retain this longevity despite the changes? Here’s how Oakley nailed its evolution from sports gear to a versatile performance and lifestyle brand while staying true to its vision.

Oakley’s history

Despite its status now, Oakley had humble beginnings. James “Jim” Jannard started the brand from the back of his car. He created a unique motorcycle handgrip that kept the motorcyclist secure on the bike. Before his innovation, these grips were rubber sleeves that made it difficult to hold onto when riders started sweating. His handgrips kept performance optimal and comfortable. However, the brand’s major shift began when he realized he had difficulty getting the brand name into the world. He sought new ways to innovate his product, expand his market, and bring more visibility to the company by creating riding goggles, giving way to the brand’s claim to fame.

Oakley’s successful shift

Jim Jannard utilized the tech for his grips and his passion for revolutionizing sports performance gear to create Oakley eyewear. He took the wraparound style of sports goggles and created the first iterations of the iconic sports sunglasses known today. The grips on the frames mimicked the bike handgrips he started with, allowing them to stay on an athlete’s face without slipping off. Oakley took off in the 1980s when pro cyclist Greg LeMond wore a production version of the prototype Eyeshade during a race, launching the brand into becoming a significant player in sports performance wear. Not only did they help boost performance, but these sunglasses were unlike anything in the industry.

However, the company didn’t stop with their Oakley sunglasses. Today, the brand offers these alongside prescription eyewear, clothing, helmets, and more. Not only does Oakley cater to athletes looking for high-performance gear, but they also produce lifestyle products anyone can enjoy. The sports-style shades they offer also keep them relevant in the fashion zeitgeist as trends are skewing towards this unique style. Check out the “City Outsiders” fashion editorial to see how Oakley sunglasses can elevate a look.

Moreover, they have also worked on their e-commerce efforts, as shoppers can go on their website to book in-store consultations or place orders with free shipping, expanding their reach beyond brick-and-mortar shops. As such, the Oakley brand has evolved quite a lot while retaining a spirit of innovation at its core.

Why is Oakley still relevant today?

A brand must evolve to avoid being out of step with what they offer, its audience, or the market. There are many reasons for Oakley’s successful rebrand from purely sports-focused to a versatile lifestyle brand. The business had the advantage of being a pioneer in the sports gear industry thanks to Jim Jannard’s vision, but it’s also never lost that drive to bring something new to the table. Oakley sunglasses stand out from other brands due to their link to sports, yet they can also be worn for other lifestyle activities. The brand also constantly incorporates the latest technologies to adapt to consumers’ needs, allowing them to personalize eyewear.

One major thing the brand did right was to let the products speak for themselves. If they were durable and comfortable enough that competitive athletes could wear them without fuss, what more would the rest of the population? Oakley didn’t need flashy logos or gimmicky marketing tactics; the business built connections with its target audience, serving as the foundation for its products and overall brand.

Oakley is an excellent example of how you can take a niche brand with unique offerings and expand it successfully while retaining recognition and acclaim.

© 2024 Rain. All rights reserved. Privacy policy.