Oakley is Looking Beyond Design

I have always been a big fan of Oakley sunglasses since a very good designer friend (a hard core collector) got me into it. However just today an interesting cosmic convergence happened and I had to write about it.
Firstly I recently after much deliberation I’ve decided to finally get my 2nd pair of Oakleys ever. I wanted something more toned down, but still edgy and the Eye Patch caught my eye.
The next event was an article in the Innovation section that talks about the design thinking behind a company that somehow is able to just build a better pair of sunglasses. Their ability to do it over and over again in an extremely competitive, saturated and matured market is just outright amazing. Check out an excerpt:

Describing Oakley’s methodology, Baden says, “We look for problems and we invent solutions from scratch. What we saw in eyewear was that the active outdoor person was not able to get glasses that functioned well in a given sport. We entered the category because no one [i.e., competitors] cared about optics.” Baden claims that Oakley eyewear is still unsurpassed. “I could put our glasses up against anybody’s, and you would see a superior point of difference. That difference is our juice. We can walk into an account and say, ‘Look, you won’t get headaches when you wear these glasses.’ Once someone sees and understands that, they are lifelong converts.”
To call Oakley an eyewear company, however, is to ignore the eclectic range of its enterprises. “We are a design-driven company,” says Baden. “We create things that interest us. When you want to be a company at the forefront, you really can’t go into the marketplace and look at what is going on or ask people what they want because all there is is what there is. We are all about what is going to be.”
The shock of the new may leave some people uneasy, Baden admits. But for Oakley, living outside your comfort zone is how innovations come about. “The products that we think are the ‘next thing’, we call them ‘talking to the people in the front row.’ They are the people who get our jokes and can turn around and explain them to the people in the last row. Then everyone goes, ‘Oh, okay.’ When our front-row athletes are wearing our glasses strapped to the top of their heads, we sell thousands of them.”

Check out the rest of the article here. I guess I am a lifelong convert. Now I like to thank god for the sun was out today and I got to road test my Eye Patches.

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