California-based Oakley counts its first big success in the ‘90s, having tackled a slew of collaborations with major athletes including Michael Jordan at the time. One of the brand’s most loyal wearers, Dennis Rodman, even donned a pair courtside and in his role as Yaz in the 1997 cult film favorite Double Team. The eyewear mainstay continues to attract a star-studded clientele with Kim Kardashian, Bad Bunny and Pharrell Williams owning several pairs from the brand’s longstanding franchise of performance sunglasses. It’s difficult to pinpoint Oakley’s runaway success in the ’90s to any one factor. The brand’s presence across sports, fashion, and entertainment all played an immense role in cultivating the brand’s longstanding appeal.
Oakley has teamed up with countless streetwear brands for collaborations and even made appearances on the runway. In 2018, the label partnered with KITH for the brand’s Aspen collection that consisted of eyewear and headwear. The next year, Oakley joined forces with Vetements on a spike-adorned Radar EV Model and then followed up with a Palace collaboration on a pair of Mumbo Shades. Not to mention, A-COLD-WALL founder Samuel Ross has been releasing a capsule collection with the brand every year over the last three years with the duo designing apparel, bags and eyewear. Oakley recently tapped celebrated Japanese artist Meguru Yamaguchi to design a full eyewear capsule called the Kokoro collection featuring his signature, hand-painted brushstrokes.
Athletes also prefer wearing a pair of Oakley’s than any other performance-oriented eyewear. Tiger Woods favors the brand on and off the course. Track athlete Ato Bolton wore Oakley’s iconic Over The Top FMJ Silver Fire Iridium Sunglasses at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and professional golfer Jarmo Sandelin is also a fan of the glasses’ X-Men-meets-Natural Born Killers look. The brand’s allure not only reaches sports and fashion, but the film industry as well. Pairs of Oakley’s have cropped up in a range of films, with notable appearances on Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club and Tom Cruise as Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt.
Oakley was founded in 1975 by Jim Jannard who only had $300 USD to his name and dreamed of developing the most innovative handlebar grip in the world. The technology used for Oakley Grips became the basis for Oakley’s motocross googles that were first released in the late ’70s, but was met with mediocre technical reviews. However, BMX riders raved about the way Oakley goggles looked on their helmets. The 1980 release of the O-Frame goggles became Jannard’s first big eyewear success, and cemented a prominent place for Oakley in the sports industry. And now with the reemergence of ’90s nostalgia, along with the influx of brand collabs, Oakley is back in the spotlight and poised to continue.
Learn about Oakley’s history and successes in the video above and then polish your knowledge on Arc’teryx’s legacy.