20 Things You Didn’t Know About Oakley

Oakley is a brand that has been around for a while. They’ve grown from virtual obscurity at their initial launch to a highly-desired and well-respected line of eyewear and protective goggles. They’re a leader in the industry. If you haven’t yet experienced the Oakley difference, we must admit that they’re not inexpensive, but the quality is well worth the price. Here are 20 things that you probably didn’t know about Oakley that may help you to appreciate the uniqueness of the brand and why they’re so well-liked.

1. Why Oakleys are worth the higher price

Oakley is best known for the sunglasses and protective eyewear that it produces. The high-performance nature of these products are what drive the high price, but that’s one of the reasons why professional racers, motorcycle racers, and other professional sportsmen and women prefer the brand. They hold up better than most of the less expensive types and when your winning streak or even your life depends on the reliability of your goggles, it’s not worth taking the chance on a cheaper brand that doesn’t have the impressive track record of an Oakley.

2. They make more than eyewear

Although Oakley is an innovative manufacturer of high-quality eyewear and protective goggles, this isn’t the only thing that their company manufactures. They also make other items. Oakley also produces watches and accessories. They’ve also expanded into the apparel and footwear industry. It’s possible to put together a complete and very stylish ensemble with Oakley products.

3. Their success is in part due to endorsements

Oakley has a large group of celebrities in their camp, who are happy to endorse their products. This is especially true for the athletes who appreciate the quality and who have come to depend on their products to enhance their safety when they’re engaging in dangerous sports competitions such as racing with motorized vehicles or downhill skiing. If you can’t see what you’re doing or where you’re going, you’re in trouble. When you see an Oakley advertisement, the odds are that there is a celebrity in the sports world that is endorsing the product that is being advertised.

4. They’re selective about who sells their products

Oakley has developed relationships with multiple high-end retailers for the sale of their branded products. In the industry, this is almost a necessity because it wouldn’t work out very well if they offered their eyewear which sells for between $65 and $335 a pair in a big box or other types of discount store. If you’re looking for inexpensive products, you won’t find them with Oakleys, however, they do offer discounts and sales on their merchandise.

5. Oakley have been imitated by imposters

As a high-end brand, Oakleys has faced many of the same issues that other well-known designer brands have. There are companies that manufacture goods that are very similar in appearance and they will even imprint brands or logos on fake copies and try to pass them off to the public as authentic and licensed merchandise. This is just one of the hazards of being in business and of reaching such a high level of success. Be warned that there are a lot of knock-offs out there and if you find a pair of Oakleys offered at a ridiculously low price, the odds are that they’re not the real thing.

6. Oakley was founded in 1975

The man who founded the Oakley company is named Jim Jannard. He founded the company in 1975 and the first items that he sold were motocross motorcycle hand grips. He began the business by selling these items out of the back of his car. He started peddling these accessories. It’s hard to imagine that the guy who peddled motocross accessories from the trunk of his car would end up being incredibly rich because he didn’t give up on his dream.

7. Jannard was a college dropout

In 1970, Jannard was attending classes at the University of So. Cal and he had long hair and an Irish setter. There was apparently a problem with him bringing his dog to class with him. It annoyed his professors and he cited this as the reason why he dropped out of school and took the following year to ride around the Southwest part of the country on his motorcycle. It was at this point that he traded his bike for a Honda automobile and started selling motorcycle parts and accessories to shops.

8. Oakley is the name of Jannard’s dog

There are a lot of people wondering where Jim Jannard came up with the brand name Oakley. It’s not his last name so where did it come from? We’ll tell you where…It was the name of one of his dogs. We surmise from the fact that he took one of them into college classes with him that he must have been very fond of them. We think that it’s really cool that he is such a dog lover that he would name a company that made him rich after his pooch. All we can say is that the dog must have been very special to him. We’re also wondering if it’s the one that he took to school?

9. Jannard started Oakley when in his mid-30s

The guy that sold motorcycle parts out of the trunk of his car had been selling for almost a decade before he took an interest in motocross goggles. His business had picked up, but he discovered that he had a real talent for developing high-quality goggles. Those he sold were his very own designs and they were made with a special kind of plastic that was high-impact and could take a walloping and still perform. He made them be stronger yet lighter than glass versions that were previously in use and popular with riders.

10. The goggles were an advertising gimmick

Jannard went to motocross competitions and other events and just handed out the goggles to the racers. He took a team of youthful salespeople along with him and to give everyone a good taste of the new product, they were just given away for free. Once they realized what they were given, Jannard had a hungry crowd of enthusiasts clamoring for more. He started selling the goggles, which would become Oakley’s claim to fame, through the company’s motorcycle parts accounts. They were a raging success and because he was the sole designer there were no royalties to split.

11. Goggles led to other eyewear

The motorcycle goggles that Jannard had designed, promoted and marketed became a real thing. This was just the beginning for him. Soon, he developed a kind of goggle that was part sunglasses and goggles combined to meet the unique needs of bicyclists and skiers. The famous cyclist Greg Le Mond was seen with a pair of Oakley’s on when he took the win at the 1986 Tour de France.

12. Oakley gave away sunglasses in the 80s and 9os

Sunglasses were a new product in the Oakley lineup and they hadn’t gotten a lot of press yet. Instead of going for more traditional forms of advertisement, Jannard took his usual approach and manufactured a bunch of the new glasses, pulled his sales team together and started handing out as many pairs to top athletes as they could. These were not sporting specific giveaways. He had them given to golfers, basketball players and any other types of athletes he could think of. It was a good tactic because they became popular with some of the sports world’s top athletes who served as powerful endorsers of Oakley products.

13. The athletes recognized the quality

A major part of Oakley’s success is the fact that the athletes who were given a pair for free could tell that there was something different and very special about the sunglasses. They had a certain kind of feeling and quality and the performance was top notch. Jannard had developed a product that was far superior to most brands on the market. It wasn’t so much the fact that they were designer glasses as much as the athletes placed value on their reliability and the fact that they enhanced their abilities in professional competition.

14. Many of the endorsements cost Janner little or nothing

There were quite a few celebrity sports figures who had become friends with Janner and they didn’t charge him a penny for endorsing Oakley products. One of them was Andre Agassi. Michael Jordan advertised the glasses for free by wearing a pair while he played golf and it certainly caught the attention of the media. When he signed on to endorse Oakley more formally, he settled for a stock package for when the company went public. This was a truly sweet deal for Jannard and a boost for Oakley.

15. Oakley became a leader in the market

When it came to the market for sports sunglasses, Oakley was the undisputed and acknowledged leader. The high-performance goggles and sunglasses were being openly worn by skaters, basketball and baseball players, tennis players, golfers, cyclists, skiers, motocross champions and more. By 6 million 1990, Oakley’s net income was $7.7 with sales of $68.6 million. By 1992, the net income for the company had increased to an amazing $9.1 million. Oakley had grown in its popularity and its net worth. It was a moneymaking machine and the others couldn’t keep up.

16. Oakley products spread to the fashion segment of the industry

After its initial launch, Oakley was a brand that was most commonly used by professionals in competitive sporting industries. While this still remains the case, by the 1990s, there was a trend for them to be used by fashion conscious individuals with discriminating tastes who found them to be designer items that were highly desirable and attractive. People not even associated with sports were seen wearing them including the very wealthy and celebrity personalities. Oakley had broken through into a new and vast market of buyers who didn’t mind paying more for the quality, aesthetics and the prestige.

17. Oakley sells multiple brands under its umbrella

Oakley has always been cautious when they introduced a new product. There are several different brands that they sell but they are all in the Oakley line. The offer the most basic brand called Blades with a retail price of $110 and a surcharge of $60 for each coated lens. This changed in 1995 when they offered the Frogskins brand which was sold for $40 a pair and took the lead as their least expensive brand. The Eye Jackets brand which came out in 1994 were worn by Agassi. They also sold a high-impact line called the M-Frame, made of polycarbonate lenses that had a super hardness.

18. The Oakley Company went public in 1995

Oakley had finally reached a high pinnacle of success when the company went public in 1995. Jannard was ecstatic and the company was valued at an estimated $820 million. At this point in time, Jannard had an estimated net wealth of around $750 million. He was well on his way to becoming a billionaire. He and his chief CEO Mike Parnell were each the owners of private jet planes. Their first private meeting with shareholders took place in El Toro, California.

19. Oakley had hundreds of patents

If any of you have ever dealt with the process for obtaining a patent then you know that the Oakley company must have spent a ton of money on IP attorney fees, which are not cheap. The Oakley company had in the neighborhood of three hundred and twenty patents which were either issued or were in the process and pending throughout the world. They had obtained 249 registered trademarks by 1995 alone. Jannard had been very busy with designing and developing a variety of products for Oakley. The Oakley lawyers were also kept busy as well as a fleet of private investigators who had to be hired to identify the multitudes of counterfeiters out there selling fake Oakleys to an unsuspecting public who thought that they were just getting a good deal. When the scammers were positively identified, Oakley sued them.

20. Oakley’s landscaping architect worked for the royal family

The architect that Oakley hired to do landscaping and design work for them was the same gentleman who had performed work for the royal family of Great Britain. He was good at what he did and his reputation preceded him. Nothing but the very best would do when it came to creating the design for Oakley’s new headquarters.


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