Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review | Oakley Eric Koston Frogskins and Jawbone

Oakley continues to set the standards when it comes to innovative and creative design. Blending science and art they continue to redefine fashion forward and performance eyewear.

"Decades of Oakley innovation have led to a full array of market-leading products including performance apparel and accessories, prescription eyewear, footwear, watches and electronics. The company continues to build on its heritage of authenticity by reinventing products from scratch to achieve superior quality and genuine innovation that delivers the unexpected. Awarded more than 575 patents and 1100 trademarks, Oakley today is a global icon offering products to consumers in more than 100 countries."

The brand was started in 1975 with a $300 investment by James Jannard. Jannard originally focused his attention towards the Motocross and BMX market producing what he called the 'The Oakley Grip'. In the 70's motorcycle handgrips were just basic pieces of rounded rubber. James developed a unique tread and design that fit securely in the riders grasp out of a material called Unobtainium. Unobtainium was a material that would get tacky when it became wet giving riders superior control and obvious grip over their fellow competitors. Unobtainium is still used in the sunglasses in many nose piece and earsocks.

The first eyewear that James designed were a pair of goggles called the O-Frame. The O-Frame, which featured the iconic "O" logo on the side strap, was the first big step in creating brand recognition. The frame was extremely popular because of its low profile and optimized fit which allowed for better peripheral and downward vision. From there the Oakley empire began to grow and flourish with the first pair of sunglasses coming in 1984 in the form of the Eyeshade. James and Oakley continued to reinvented sunglasses giving attention to every detail whether in the form of lightweight design (Sub Zeros which came in at 0.69 oz) or inventing the Oakley Thump, the first pair of sunglasses with a built in MP3.


A few weeks ago I received a pair of Koston Frogskins as well as a pair of Jawbones. These two frames optimized what the Oakley brand has come to signify. On one side of the spectrum you have a classic in the form of the Frogskins, a mix of tradition and style. Whereas on the other hand you have the Jawbones, a glowing example of innovation and performance.

The Frogskins have secured their spot within pop culture. Coming to the market in the 1980's during a period where Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, people were rushing to theatres to see Arnold as "The Terminator" and Run D.M.C. was certified gold. The frames had been on hiatus for over a decade before they were reintroduced as the canvas for new limited edition pieces. The limited runs have ranged from an all chrome and gold frame courtesy of Supreme to a Purple on Purple combination thanks impart to Paul Rodriguez and his Encino-based retail spot Primitive. The most recent example of the retro classic is the exclusive Eric Koston rendition. The Girl Skate Pro and newly crowned member of Nike SB worked along side Oakley to come up with a nice twist to the iconic frame. The frame is done up in a sleek woodgrain print with a subtle set of iridium lens.

The Frogskin, as expected, fit like a gem while simultaneously going above and beyond to ensure that they not only served as a great addition to any outfit but also as a functioning sunglass. For me personally sunglasses are often used while driving so I decided to take them for a test drive to the cabin. At the end of the two hour drive I had not been faced with an issues. The frames alleviated my eyes from all glare with no stress being put on my vision.

The Jawbones are a recent addition to the Oakley line up. The frame was constructed with the World Class Athlete in mind. So much so that Oakley solicited the help of Lance Armstrong, George Hicapie, Thor Hushovd and Brian Lopes for the development and testing.

The Jawbone utilizes SwitchLock
® technology which alters the frames mechanics while maintaining the integrity of the frame. With SwitchLock the lower portion of the frame surrounding the lens opens allowing an athlete to make a quick lens change to adapt to any conditions. The frame also features a unique suspension system so-to-speak which holds the lenses in place so stresses on the frame do not affect the optics. The design allows for an unmatched clarity and rider protection.

Prior to trying on I questioned the frames comfort. Considering the nose piece was designed to pivot I had concerns but when I put them on the really fit quite well and were very comfortable. The sunglasses not only feature High Definition Optics® (HDO) lenses which makes for unbeatable clarity but Oakley's Hydrophobic® permanenet lens coating that prevents water from leaving streaks and sheens whether in the form of rain or sweat.

You''ll have to hurry if you still want to get your hands on the Koston Frogskins. Not only were they produced in very limited numbers but they are bound to sell out extremely fast which seems to be a common theme with these frames. They retail for $130. If you can't get your hands on those you may be able to grab the recently released Anti-Freeze colured Frogskin frame with Black Iridium lenses which are in stock and retail for $110 USD (
Here). The Jawbones on the other hand come in an array of colours and are fully customizable. They start off around $195 for the black on black coulorway with a fully customizable pair running between $220 and $320.

Thanks Rhett and Oakley for the chance to review the sunglasses.