Sports eyewear brands straddling sport and lifestyle – WWD

It’s no secret that being outdoors has grown in popularity during the pandemic. Everything from walking and hiking to golfing, biking, skiing and running found new fans as pandemic-weary consumers escaped their homes to get some sun and fresh air. costs. And the sports performance eyewear industry has reaped the benefits.

Leaders embraced their newfound popularity, offering sport-specific styles, upping the ante on their tech features and advancing their fashion quotient – ​​strategies that continue to evolve today with the introduction of lighter frames, wraparound styles and hybrid models.

Oakley, the California division of Luxottica, offers a wealth of options for everything from mountain biking and snowboarding to baseball, basketball, golf, surfing and skateboarding. The company also offers styles aimed at gamers whose idea of ​​the sport is on a computer screen rather than a mountain range.

Bruno Garcia, the brand’s new vice president of marketing, said that among the most popular models today is the Kato, a wrap-around style that hugs the contours of the face, is frameless and has a function of inclination. The goggles provide a “mask-like fit that allows for minimal intrusion into the line of sight” and multiple nose pads help create a custom fit.

Oakley has also applied its proprietary Prizm Lens technology to a number of models. The technology, he explained, is “designed to improve visual contrast” and allows athletes to see details more clearly, thereby improving performance. “Whether on the mountain, road, water, field or course, Prizm lenses allow athletes and consumers to see details sooner, faster and deeper, resulting in an experience improved”, explains the brand.

Looking ahead, Garcia said consumers today are looking for lightweight but still high-performance products, such as Re:Subzero, an updated version of a pair of sunglasses first introduced in 1992 that now weighs less than an ounce. This model is aimed at the everyday athlete, the company said, and aims to “bridge the gap between sport and lifestyle frames.”

Earlier this month, Oakley offered a number of new models, including the Admission, a gamer-oriented style with a low-bridge fit and a special version of Prizm technology.

Other updates include the Holbrook, a frame now available in lightweight titanium, and new models for boys and girls designed for smaller faces.

Additionally, Oakley has had success with its athlete-specific collections like the one featuring NFL star Patrick Mahomes. The third iteration of her signature collection recently dropped and includes youth-specific wraps and styles.

The Bobcat is Smith’s best-selling model.

Matthew Roebke

Smith, which was founded by a snow-loving dentist in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1965, has expanded beyond snow goggles to a number of different activities including cycling, hiking, running , fishing and endurance sports. Taryn Ryan, head of global marketing, cited the brand’s long history and being founded by someone “passionate about the outdoors” as key to its DNA.

Unlike other sports performance brands, Smith goes for a “clean, sleek and modern aesthetic,” which is her differentiator, she said. Among its most important sports options are the Embark Glacier Glass, which was created for mountaineering and skiing, but has been adopted by fishermen and water sports enthusiasts with its flexible and removable side protections. The Bobcat is the brand’s shield-style model with a frame and flexible temples that appeals to many sports disciplines. The Resolve is a cross-over style with a wraparound fit and rimless design aimed at triathlons and team sports, and the Spinner is a full-shield sunglass designed for water sports.

In many of her designs, Smith features ChromaPop, a proprietary technology that allows the eye to identify true colors, she explained, allowing for more definition and clarity.

Additionally, more than half of Smith’s frames are created from sustainable materials such as the bio-based Evolve frame which is made from recycled plastic. Ryan said while it’s not performance-related, it speaks to the desire of today’s consumers to do their part for the environment.

Going forward, she said the company will offer products that combine fashion and sport without giving up its sporting heritage. As such, the company will be adding two additional sport styles, the Pursuit and XC, later this year that will have crossover appeal.

Roka offers both sunglasses and prescription models.

Although Roka has started creating wetsuits for triathletes, its fastest growing category is goggles. Co-founder Rob Canales said the company started creating a sports aviator for a triathlete ambassador in 2015 and has since expanded its offering to sunglasses and prescription eyewear. “We were able to grow during the pandemic as a challenger brand in the market. We are the independent brand in a market dominated by large Italian conglomerates.

That success also led the company to open an optical center in its hometown of Austin, Texas, to “bring our performance technology to eyewear,” he said. “This part of the market is 10 times larger than the sunglasses market.”

The company caters almost exclusively to consumers and is Ironman’s global partner for eyewear and sunglasses. Its best-selling models include the Barton, a lightweight, rectangular-shaped frame, as well as the Airmen. “We sit between the classic Oakley shields and the more fashionable brands,” Canales said. “You can wear them for a run and then switch to work so you can wear them all day without having to change out.”

Next, he said, Roka will “make a major upgrade” to its optical styles, adding spring hinges, while offering more models for different face shapes and styles.

100%, based in San Diego, is another independent sports brand that seeks to benefit athletes through innovative performance technologies. The brand, whose roots are in motocross, launched its first sports sunglasses in 2016 with pro cyclist Peter Sagan, the Speedcraft, which featured lightweight, high-impact frames, scratch-resistant cylindrical lenses and adjustable temple tips.

This model continues to be one of the brand’s best-sellers, along with styles from the Hypercraft family, which feature a rimless shield, UltraCarbon frame and are lightweight. Among its exclusive products are the Hiper lens, a high-definition technology that increases contrast, amplifies colors and enhances details; TR90 frames created from carbon fiber woven into nylon, and it uses a hydrophobic and oleophobic treatment that repels water, oil and dirt and prevents stains.

Gwen van Lingen, vice president of global marketing, said 100% is working with eyewear designer Jacques Marie Mage who has a history in fashion sunglasses as well as the world of action sports to create ” unique products that look good and work even better”.

100% will begin offering winter sports goggles later this year.

This fall, 100% will launch a snow collection. And in 2023, she added, further advancements in UltraCarbon technology will be introduced with a Hypercraft Square Sport Performance Shield, Legere Coil and Legere Trap, both dual-lensed.

The company also works with a roster of athletes, including snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott; marathon runner Molly Seidel; Jolanda Neff, cross-country mountain biker; skier Loïc Bruni; triathlete Gustav Iden; biathlete Johannes Thingnes Boe and Atlanta Braves player Ronald Acuña Jr.

“Our ambassadors are a critical part of not only our product improvement plan and development progression, but also a critical part of our brand anatomy,” she said.