Experiencing The Vision Performance Lab
If you have been setting the DVR for Supercross this season, you have probably seen the Oakley spots featuring Ryan Dungey rocking the Prizm lenses in his goggles. On the eve of revolutionizing its retail experience, we managed to sneak a behind-the-scenes look at Oakley. After a firsthand look, we have to say its Vision Performance Lab (VPL) experience is like Disneyland for goggles and glasses!
“The consumer experience becomes heavily dependent on how the product is presented,” says Colin Baden, Oakley’s chief innovation & product officer. “We need to engage the consumer in the conversation about some of the attributes of what we’re proposing.” What came of that was building a retail development laboratory that it calls the VPL. The brand now has one of the most evolved custom eyewear programs in the world… far cry from motocrosser Jim Jannard starting a grip and goggle company in his garage and naming it after his dog back in 1975!
Off the beaten path and hidden behind the retail area and VPL technology is a museum documenting the Oakley landmarks from when Jannard began by selling ‘The Oakley Grip’ out of the back of his car at MX races. Some of the original “Unobtainium” grips, old ads with Ricky Johnson doing his zebra impression and the “Medusa” steam punk-meets-alien glasses are all stashed away in the cavernous Oakley mothership. Although Jannard sold the company to Italian eyewear giant Luxottica in 2007, the core values continue… as well as the use of Unobtanium in the product line to this day.
However, just as it was in Jannard’s garage, Oakley eyewear is still designed to perform – 40 years of history in innovation and a philosophy of a lens that sets the brand apart. Photo Spectrometers, 3D scanners, thermo cameras, tunable polarizers and other high-tech gizmos are part of the VPL experience inside the main entrance. “We can now take all the learning and put it into the real world,” says Braden.
If you get a chance to check out Oakley’s SoCal campus, it’s worth the visit. See below for a look at the VPL video launch: