According to Brian Takumi, VP of Product Creative at Oakley, sometime in the early 1980s Jim Jannard the brand’s founder, “was driving home one day with the sunlight coming off the ocean into the side of his eye, and he thought that there must be a solution for this issue. He went straight to his shop, took a goggle, cut out a smaller lens shape that still had full-coverage protection and attached coat hangers on the sides – and that is how the Eyeshade was born.”
From the mind of Jim Jannard, the original Eyeshade found its way into the limelight debuting on athletes during the Los Angeles 1984 summer games, which the brand recently celebrated with their City of Origins event.
During the 1990s through to the early 2000s, the brand also found fame beyond the track seeing their sunglasses adorned on some of the worlds most papped faces including Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise and Dennis Rodman. More recently Oakley saw themselves leading the pack in the fast shades boom with models such as the Jawbreaker.
Earlier this month Oakley dropped the Sutro Eyeshade a contemporary clash of the 2019 launched Sutro and the iconic choice de jour for the serious cyclist, the Eyeshade, blending the best of both models whilst keeping to the high technical standards self-set by Oakley.
The Sutro Eyeshade ties in a number of performance features including PRIZM Lens Technology, the long-lasting O Matter nylon-based material the frames are made of and the high wrap vented shield lens, all topped off nicely with the B1B Oakley logo keeping a little bit of that 90s feel to the frames.
With the Sutro Eyeshade already being worn by some of the world’s top athletes including 2019 Tour de France winner, Egan Bernal and 2019 Super Bowl LIV MVP, Patrick Mahomes II, it is only a matter of time before the Sutro Eyeshade cements its place in sunglasses history.
We caught up with Brian Takumi, VP of Product Creative at Oakley to talk about the new Sutro Eyeshade, style vs performance and dream collabs.
How did you begin re-inventing such an icon as the Eyeshade?
When it came to developing a new product, the answer was right in front of us – our heritage and Sutro, a style we launched in 2019 that gained a lot of momentum and popularity throughout the last year.
For 2020, we wanted to give Sutro some next-level energy, so we looked to our DNA and one of the pieces that helped define who we are as a brand today: Eyeshade. We have a rich history in sports performance eyewear and we are well versed in color, design details and silhouettes so took from the past to define the future with the launch of Sutro Eyeshade.
The Eyeshade was built with performance in mind. For the reinvention were there any particular performance areas you wanted to address or did you design more broadly than that?
The original Oakley sports pieces were created to deliver game-changing performance benefits for the world’s best athletes. The Eyeshade dominated specifically in cycling. We had some pretty significant leaders of cycling dominate wearing Eyeshades at the highest level.
With Sutro Eyeshade, it wasn’t about only developing a product for elite cyclists but we wanted to deliver a product that would resonate with a wider group of consumers across sports. We took our leading sport performance innovations and wrapped them in an on-trend style that can seamlessly transition from sport to everyday life. For example, you will see Sutro Eyeshade on the cycling circuit but also as a style statement on the face of the 2019 Super Bowl LIV MVP, Patrick Mahomes II.
How did you balance style and performance on this product, does one take priority over the other?
At Oakley, we are equal parts scientists and engineers as we are designers, so with every product, the design and style is a priority, especially with a high adoption of sports performance pieces being used as trend and style pieces.
How do you think the performance needs of an athlete have changed since the Eyeshade?
Performance-wise, there’s probably been some greater demands. The speeds are faster now. The athletes’ bodies have evolved across every sport. I think the biggest difference today is the style component that has come in. Back in the day, everyone on the court all wore a Chuck Taylor. Even though in the ’80s, the only difference in a Converse Weapon was the colors for Bird, Magic, Barkley, King, etc. Now it’s so much about telling and making a personal statement. Plus, everyone is so different from a performance POV. Style and performance are not mutually exclusive. Form can follow function, but you can’t exclude what it looks like.
On the style side, are there any designers you would love to collaborate with?
With the changing landscape of performance, streetwear, and fashion there’s a lot of people I look to who could bring a lot of energy to a sportswear brand. While we’ve done levels of collaboration with Samuel Ross, I would’ve loved to have done an original eyewear piece with him. Another guy would be Jerry Lorenzo. His stuff has been great about taking lifestyle and infusing the sport performance into it. When it comes to color and graphic, I’ve loved the stuff Allison Torneros does. It’s always been so dynamic and rich.
The Sutro Eyeshade is available now at Oakley.com