All About Oakley

All About Oakley

Anyone who was around in the 1990s will be familiar with the eyewear brand Oakley. That iconic oval-shaped "O" logo is reminiscent in a way kids of today just won't understand!

Oakley sunglasses and eyewear are far from being a shadow of the past as they're still a solid feature in the eyewear landscape today. 

While Oakley started out primarily as a sports-focused brand, it has progressed into a fashion-forward brand for daily wear as well as hardcore active pursuits.

Here's all you need to know about iconic eyewear brand, Oakley. 

A history of Oakley 

Oakley has a pretty interesting beginning...and it's not what you think. Eyewear brands often start with one or two optometry professionals determined to change the game in lense or frame style and technology.

Well, Oakley is a little different. Back in 1975, a man by the name of Jim Jannard set out to create a more reliable, safe and grip-friendly material for motocross bike handles. 

Using a special kind of hydrophilic rubber, Jim created and patented what he called "unobtanium". This unique material was used for motocross bike handles and eventually dubbed the "Oakley Grip" (pictured below).

Oakley Grip Bike Handles

Why the name 'Oakley'? Jim's beloved English Setter was called Oakley Anne, hence the brand name. 

So, how on earth did motorbike handles transition into eyewear? Like all smart business people, Jim rode the wave of success from his grip tech and transitioned into goggles for motocross and bike sports.

The first goggles were the Oakley Goggles (launched in 1983), made mostly for motocross and dirt biking. But why stop at biking? Jim swiftly moved into ski goggles with the O Frames and the Pro Frames, quickly progressing the business with success. Check out this early Oakley goggles ad below.

Oakley goggle press ad

Oakley had humble beginnings. As Jannard says himself, "I had $300 to start Oakley. So money was not the primary reason for success. Invention and interesting product was." But by the mid-late 1980s and certainly the 1990s, Oakley was an eyewear powerhouse. 

To branch out from sports and into lifestyle, Oakley released the iconic Frogskins frames in 1985. These were the first glasses that featured dual lenses (as opposed to the single-lens visor sports style previously used).

The Frogskins were often compared to Ray-Ban Wayfarers, one of the most popular frames in the world (smart move, Oakley!). From there on in, Oakley became a brand for the general population as well as sportsmad boarders, bladers and bikers. 

A favourite of iconic 1990s sports stars 

While still popular today, Oakley had a true boom in the 1990s. Sporty wraparound sunglasses with tinted lenses were everywhere! It helped that sports like motocross, BMX, snowboarding and skiing were popular, with stars such as Jeff Brushie (pictured below in a pair of Oakleys) paving the way.

Jeff Brushie Oakley Sunglasses

One of the most popular frames of the 1990s was the Oakley M Frames, short for 'Mumbo' (check out the current M2 style here).

Throughout the 1990s, the M frames underwent multiple updates, additions, and versions to cater to different sports and practical needs. Check out the OG Mumbo sunglasses below, complete with Unobtainium nosepads and earsocks.

Oakley M Frame 

90s kids will appreciate this next trip down memory lane. Amongst the most eccentric and iconic sports stars of the 1990s was Dennis Rodman, one of the NBA's best ever players. Rodman was most famous for playing for the Chicago Bulls in the mid-late 1990s and for his fleeting marriage to Carmen Electra. 

Dennis was pictured countless times throughout the 1990s wearing Oakley sunglasses, further catapulting the popularity of the brand.

The thing is, Dennis was a rather eccentric, outlandish character at the time, wearing feminine clothes and makeup, which was quite groundbreaking for an athlete during that era.

It's fair to say that Dennis, by association, gave Oakley an extra boost of street cred amongst sports fans, fashion boundary pushers, and the general pop culture-consuming public. Check him out below in the Eye Jacket Redux sunnies. 

Dennis Rodman Oakley sunglasses

Dennis Rodman wasn't the only NBA star to champion Oakley sunglasses in the 1990s. The ultimate sports star, perhaps the icon of all time, Michael Jordan also wore Oakley frames (pictured below).

If you've watched the Netflix Documentary 'The Last Dance', you'll see Oakley sunglasses in their full 90's glory on Michael Jordan and fellow NBA starts. 

Michael Jordan sunglasses

Oakley's patented materials and special features 

Now that we've covered the history and star-studded line-up of fans, let's delve into the materials, features, and many trademarked Oakley creations.

One thing is clear, Oakley is more than just an eyewear brand, they're an innovative company that loves to push the envelope when it comes to technology, functionality and performance in sports and on the everyday wearer. 

O Matter

O Matter is essentially a type of Nylon Oakley has patented to many of their best-selling frames such as Holbrook. O Matter is extremely hard-wearing and durable, making it great for sporty, active people who give their frames a rough ride.

O Matter holds up well under extreme temperatures, (it does soften slightly under very hot temperatures but will stabilise again) and is far less prone to becoming brittle than older iterations. 


Yes, if you've heard this term before, it is the name used for the coveted material being sought in Avatar! However, Oakley's Unobtainium® is totally unrelated, of course. As mentioned before, this was the original Oakley registered material used for bike handles.

Now, you'll find it on the nose pads and ear socks thanks to its sweat-resistant properties that help to keep your frames from slipping down your face.

You can see in the image of the Radar EV Path sunnies below, the nose pads are substantial and stay comfortable-yet-secure on the nose thanks to Unobtainium®.

Oakley Radar Path EV

Prizm™ Lens Technology

Now that we've covered two of the most-used frame and parts materials, let's move into the realm of Oakley lenses.

The Prizm lenses are available for most sunglasses, but are most-used for sports sunglasses. Why? Because Prizm was designed to optimise colors for riders, cyclists, and boarders to get the most of the scenery and so they can more effectively see road markings, trails, landscape contours and safety markers.

Check out the Sutro Lite sunglasses below with Prizm lenses.  

Sutro Lite Sunglasses

Iridium® Photochromic Lenses

The other popular lens option for sunglasses is the Iridium® Photochromic Lens. Iridium lenses are coated with a special layer of metal oxide to offer optimal light filtration and reduce glare when you need clear vision the most.

You can also get Black Iridium for extremely bright and glaring conditions.  

Oakley eyewear on film 

Oakley sunglasses appear on the big screen in some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters and smaller-scale action flicks. It's no surprise that the characters rocking Oakley frames are often badass superheroes or fast-and-fit action stars. 

These are some of the most notable films and faces you can spot Oakley frames:

Ryan Reynolds wears the Gascan frames in 'Free Guy'.

Ryan Reynolds Gascan

Steven Seagal wearing the Whisker frames in multiple films such as 'End of a Gun', 'Contract to Kill' and 'General Commander'. 

Steven Seagal Whisker Frames

Ice Cube wears the Holbrook frames in '22 Jump Street'. 

Ice Cube 22 Jump Street Holbrook Frames

Jennifer Aniston wears the Oakley Radar Path in 'Horrible Bosses'.

Jennifer Aniston Horrible Bosses

James Marsden wears the Oakley Penny frames in 'X Men: The Last Stand', these are unfortunately discontinued. 

James Marsden Oakley Penny Sunglasses

The best Oakley optical glasses for women

Oakley sunglasses are so popular it's easy to forget that the brand has some incredible optical options, too.

We're super impressed by the range of frames for women, as they offer an excellent scope of choice from architectural and fashion-forward to simple and classic. 

The Side Swept frames are underrated yet completely stunning with O Matter frames and shiny gold accents. The square shape has beautiful angles with a slight cat-eye extension at the sides. The Side Swept frame comes in five brilliant shades such as velvet matte and satin brown tortoise. 

Oakley Side Swept Frames

For something a little more minimal and light, the Moonglow frames offer the duality of a semi-rimless frame.

The top of the frames are a thin wire, while the bottom half is completely rimless. Of course, the earsocks are made from Unobtainium for non-slip comfort. 

 Oakley Moonglow Frames

For a round, all O Matter option with a touch of colour, we love the Spindrift frames. These are a great everyday frame with non-slip nose pads (there's that Unobtainium again!) available in seven cool colours such as transparent blue (pictured below). 


The best Oakley optical glasses for men 

Now for the guys! Judging by the fact that there are over 120 options for men when it comes to optical frames, Oakley is a brand geared more toward the masculine aesthetic.

This is not to say that Oakley frames can't be worn by all genders as unisex options, of course. 

We are loving the unique shape and lines of the Deadbolt™ frames made of lightweight titanium.

This frame is from the lifestyle collection named Ahyris inspired by the iris of the eye.

The Deadbolt frames have a rounded lens with subtle angles along the top and ring-holes at the temples. The sleek satin black frame sits neatly on the face yet commands attention. 

Oakley Deadbolt Frames

For something dapper, academic and fashionable, the Money Clip frames are the one to watch. Made from light-yet-strong titanium, the Money Clip frames are can take a tough day at work.

If you're a fan of the classic Panto frame style but want something tougher and lighter, these are ideal. Plus, they have the added design feature of the copper-toned contrast at the temple and can also be clipped safely to your shirt between wear! 

Oakley Money Clip Frames

And finally, we had to put the classic Holbrook frame in here. Yes, they're most commonly known and worn as sunglasses, but they're just as great for an optical function, too.

The Holbrook frames have a reasonably thick frame that sits boldly on the face while maintaining lightness thanks to the O Matter construction.

These are great if you favour a more angular, rectangle-shaped frame. There are nine colour options from plain black to clear to tortoise. 

Holbrook Optical Frames 

The best Oakley sunglasses for men and women 

Now for what made Oakley the mega brand it is today, sunglasses.

Oakley sunglasses are so versatile and well-made there's really no benefit to separating them into gendered categories, they look great on everyone.

We've covered the iconic Holbrooks above in our optical section, so we'll get to the next epic Oakley frame...the Frogskins.

These OG frames are similar to the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, but are made from light, tough O Matter and come in Prizm, Iridium, or prescription lenses. You really can't go wrong. Check them out below on Liv Tyler. 

Oakley Frogskins Liv Tyler

Earlier in 2023, Oakley released the Corridor sunglasses, a new design created especially for runners in mind. They've been designed to minimise bouncing as you run which can be extremely distracting! These slick frames come in incredible colours so you can wear them for fashion as well as training. Check them out below with Prizm Ruby lenses and Matte Celeste frame. 

Oakley Corridor Sunglasses

Another 2023 addition to the Oakley line-up is the Encoder Strike sunglasses, designed for optimal athletic performance. The single-lens designed is made with Oakley's PhysioMorphic Geometry™, and the cool laser-cut vents along the top allow for great airflow to keep you cool. Check out these electric Prizm Jade lenses and Gamma Green frame below. 

Oakley encoder strike

If you want the ultra-sporty look and function, we love the M2 Frame, the updated iteration of the OG M frame.

These frames have the whole kit and caboodle of Oakley technology: O Matter frames, Unobtainium earsocks and nosepads for comfort and grip, and a choice of Prizm, Iridium, or prescription lenses.

You can also click the lenses out and swap with new/alternate ones for your needs. The M2 frames are streamlined for fast sports and are treated with High Definition Optics (HDO™) technology for sharp vision.

Yes, they're sporty as you can get, but they look cool enough for daily wear, too. 

M2 frame white

The Oakley Latch sunglasses are the perfect lifestyle frames for men and women. These are perfect if you want to get all the benefits of the Oakley design expertise but you don't want to look too sporty. 

Oakley Latch Frames

Next, the impeccably-designed yet super affordable Hstn frames. While men can absolutely sport these, the smaller size mean they're an excellent choice for women who want something with a little more intrigue thanks to the unique angles. Check them out below with clear frames and blue lenses.

Oakley HSTN

And lastly...the out-there sunglasses that went the 2000's version of viral, the OVERTHETOP sunglasses worn by olympic silver medal-winning sprinter, Ato Bolden.

The OVERTHETOP shades reach over the head as opposed to over the ears, and look positively futuristic! These aren't available on the Oakley site, but they sure are fun to look at, right?

To sum up

We could rave on and on about the plethora of Oakley frames, but we'd be here for hours! We've covered our favourite styles, but there are so many more to discover. What are your go-to Oakley glasses? What will you pick next?

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