In the realm of athletic gear, Oakley has led the way for years in performance eyewear, with specially designed frames and lenses for sports like surfing, skiing, cycling, and much more. But running enthusiasts will be surprised to know that Oakley, despite being a longtime favourite of runners and other athletes across the world, has only recently moved into the running market. In 2023, the brand released its first dedicated line of eyewear for runners with the Corridor and Actuator sunglasses. These sunglasses are made with patented Prizm lens technology and Unobtanium nose pads for a secure fit, and mark the brand’s first real foray into running eyewear.

But while Oakley’s running sunglasses are a fairly recent addition to its product lineup, runners around the world have been using its sunglasses for years. Below, we take a closer look at what’s really behind the brand’s success, and how it’s managed to cement its spot as a favourite brand for runners worldwide.

Bringing together tech and comfort

Oakley is able to stand out in a crowded market precisely because it focuses on both technology and design. Its range of eyewear in particular is highly functional, designed carefully in order to ensure that the athletes who wear Oakley products are able to perform at their best. Cycling sunglasses like the Sutro model are designed for an extended field of view, while baseball frames like the Half Jacket allow you to swap out lenses as needed in order to adapt to specific lighting conditions.

Oakley’s Prizm lens technology is one of its most successful innovations. Prizm lenses enhance contrast and visibility and are available for most of the frames in Oakley’s catalogue. This technology is what helps Oakley running sunglasses adapt to different lighting conditions and running environments. The Corridor frames with Prizm lenses reduce light transmission to just 17%, for example, allowing runners to maximise performance without fear of visual issues like glare.

The company also makes use of lightweight, breathable materials like O Matter for their frames and Unobtanium for their nose pads for better grip. This, in addition to designs that fit perfectly on the face, allows athletes to move naturally and efficiently in their respective sports.

Elevating running through design philosophy

While technology and functional design are the backbone of Oakley’s sports eyewear lines, the brand also stands out thanks to its stylish frames. Bold colourways and sleek shapes are a trademark of Oakley frames, and part of the reason why Oakley eyewear has seen its popularity grow beyond sport and into the realm of consumer fashion.

Although Oakley’s main audience is athletes, the brand’s design philosophy is able to seamlessly bring together performance and style. Their diverse range of products extends beyond eyewear and includes sports apparel. In fact, Oakley recently collaborated with French activewear company Satisfy to release a sunglasses and apparel collection for runners, with features such as better ventilation and moisture-wicking.

Oakley also has a long history of collaboration with athletes, which only further solidifies its reputation in sports eyewear and apparel. Oakley’s collaboration with Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse during the launch of their Re:SubZero sunglasses highlighted the brand’s special spot in the hearts of runners everywhere, despite its lack of actual dedicated running sunglasses lines at the time. The Re:SubZero frames are meant for training, running, and much more, and feature PhysioMorphic Geometry that allows lenses to achieve a design and rigidity that mimics the structural properties of an actual frame.

Despite the brand’s long history of excellence, it’s clear that Oakley is thirsty for more. With constant innovation in its designs and product offerings, Oakley is continually raising the bar both for itself as a brand and its market. This hunger for excellence is part of what makes Oakley so great, and what makes runners keep coming back to it.