Success Stories

Success Stories: Oakley, Inc.

oakley wholesale

Oakley, Inc. is one of the most well-known sport and lifestyle brands in the world and is worth over $2 billion but the business was originally started in a garage! Wholesale Scout looks at their rise to success.

Oakley was established in 1975 by founder James Jannard. He started the business from his own garage with only $300 as a start up fund. Jannard was a scientist and inventor at heart and The Oakley Grip was his first invention and the product that the business was founded on – a motorcycle grip that was like no other. Jannard came up with a new patented material ‘Unobtanium’ whilst experimenting in his garage. The material and the motorcycle grip was very different to its predecessors. It was designed to fit riders’ closed hands better than any other grip before it and the material was designed to increase grip with sweat.

To launch the product Jannard gave the grip a name, naming it Oakley after one of his dogs, and began attending motor cross events and selling his home-made grip out of the back of his van. The product was popular and so Jannard saw a gap in the market and set about creating more products for the motor cross industry.

A few years later, in 1980, Jannard launched the O-Frame goggles. They were branded with the famous Oakley ‘O’ logo and its lenses were specifically designed for sports use. The goggles used high impact plastic which was more durable and lighter than the ones being used in the industry at the time. Pro riders started using the products and the brand really started to take off.

Shortly after this Jannard launched Eyeshades – sport orientated sunglasses that resembled goggles aimed at professional bicyclists and skiers. They became a hit in the industry and top athletes, like three time Tour De France winner Greg LeMond, started wearing and championing Jannard’s designs. Further sunglass designs included the casual Oakley Frogskin design. All of the brands new inventions were known for specific details like interchangeable lenses and damage resistance and the brand was sold through high-end retailers.

In 1995 Oakley went public and raised $230 million. Oakley continued to put innovation at the forefront of its business and the company is still known for its innovation today. In 1998 the company expanded its portfolio and began engineering sports footwear and now the brand has a much bigger portfolio of high performance eyewear, footwear, wristwatches, apparel and accessories.

In 2007 Jannard sold Oakley to Luxottica for $2.1 billion. Jannard has gone on to make camera equipment and cinematography tools. Oakley still operates as one of the biggest sports and lifestyle brands around. Pretty big step from a garage and a boot of a van!

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