Retro eyewear always comes back into fashion. It is a cycle of design values, trends and demand which loop continuously, decade-upon-decade. Oakley has produced some of the most iconic cycling eyewear designs in history and none are more influential and symbolic, than the brand’s Eyeshade. And we’ve managed to find a pair in showroom condition, on eBay.
Oakley debuted the Eyeshade at the most important global sporting event, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. For the Californian brand, it was close to home and that allowed Oakley to supply a diversity of athletes with Eyeshades, to create a notable chapter in product placement history. What made the Eyeshade so revolutionary, was its single-piece, visor design.
Before the Eyeshade, there was no market or concept of performance optics for outdoor sports - especially in the awareness of amateur and enthusiast riders. The only pro riders who regularly wore glasses, were those with sight issues – such as Laurent Fignon. It took California’s finest to take the Oakley Eyeshade onto a global stage and disrupt the traditions of continental cycling.
In 1986 Greg LeMond won the Tour de France with a set of Eyeshades in place and the peloton’s awareness of cycling sunglasses would change forever. LeMond was first introduced to the Eyeshade when Oakley sent him a pre-production sample, early in 1984.
The American road riding legend, at the beginning of his professional career, could immediately recognise its value. LeMond know that with the ample coverage of its lightweight visor lens, the Eyeshade could prevent road debris or insect impact with the eyes, in a race.
Injection moulding technology is what enabled Jim Jannard to establish Oakley and it allowed for the Eyeshade to be shaped in a manner that would accommodate its radical single-piece visor optic. Truth be told, the proliferation of many different cycling eyewear brands, styles and technologies can mostly trace their source of inspiration to the Oakley Eyeshades.
The Eyeshade showed that an unusual form could offer exceptional protection, for outdoor participants in a high-speed sport such as road cycling. Any tiny particle impacting the eye is a huge risk for any road rider, as it could lead to an inadvertent brake or steering miscalculation in reaction. Oakley saw that performance cycling optics weren’t about fashion, it was all about creating even greater confidence when riding on the limit for riders in the saddle.
If you wish to own a true piece of cycling optic history, this eBay pair of Eyeshades are in superb condition and could make a great once-a-month retro riding eyewear experience.
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