Oakley was started by James Jannard in 1975 out of his garage with an initial investment of $300. The name "Oakley" came from Jim's English Setter, "Oakley Anne." Jannard began by selling what he called 'The Oakley Grip' out of the back of his car at motocross events. His motorcycle grips were unlike other grips available at the time, using a patented material known as 'Unobtainium', a unique creation by Jannard. The material is still used to make the earsocks on Oakley glasses, and many of the nose pieces and now the bands of their watches. Oakley went on to produce number plates, gloves, grips, elbow guards, chin guards, and goggles for the BMX and motocross communities.
In 1980, Jannard released a pair of goggles called the O-Frame. With the 'Oakley' logo present on the strap, the brand garnered increasing recognition and prominence throughout the sports industry. In 1983 Oakley began selling ski goggles.
The first Oakley sunglasses; Factory Pilot Eyeshades, were sport-oriented, resembling goggles and were released in 1984. These were followed in 1985 by the Oakley Frogskin, a casual sunglass style that was made in Japan.
During the preparations for the ultimately successful rescue of thirty three miners trapped for ten weeks in a Chilean mine in October 2010, a journalist covering the story contacted Oakley about donating sunglasses to the rescue effort, aware that the miners would need eye protection after having spent weeks in darkness. Oakley donated 35 pairs of its Radar sports glasses, fitted with specially selected tints.
Oakley sponsored members of Team GB's Olympic Team in 2012 and 2016.
Most of Oakley's technological designs, fashion pieces, gear, etc. were developed with extensive athlete input and testing in the field – including extreme conditions. Oakley M Frame sunglasses are included as part of the U.S. Army's Authorized Protective Eyewear List, and have been assigned a NSN number for ordering through military supply channels.
Currently Oakley produce a large range of their sunglasses and ski goggles in a Prizm lens. These lenses have been produced to highlight certain colours in the visual spectrum depending on the needs of the wearer. The Prizm lens range includes lenses called Golf, Trail, Road, Cricket, Deep Water, Shallow Water, and Snow. There is also an all round lens called Prizm Daily Polorized.
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