Most Olympic athletes from around the world have a favorite – or sponsored – brand for clothing and equipment. But if you’ve been watching the skiing and snowboarding events, it seems as though a certain very distinctive pair of goggles – half orange, half yellow – has been showing up on just about everyone. The snow goggles and replica sunglasses are a great example of product placement, and are part of Oakley’s new, limited edition Harmony Fade collection.
Oakley was founded in a California garage in 1975 by now-billionaire Jim Jannard, and the company was named after his English setter, Oakley Anne. It went public in 1995 and was sold to multi-brand Italian optical giant Luxottica in 2007. One of the leading product design and sport performance brands in the world, Oakley now has clothing lines and other gear, but is still best known for its lens technologies, on which it holds more than 800 patents.
The Harmony Fade collection was “developed to celebrate the journey and commitment that athletes make to reach the world stage of competition, Harmony Fade honors the path of greatness, while inspiring athletes of all levels to chase the journey of possibility,” according to company literature. The orange and yellow incorporated throughout the Harmony Fade collection of goggles and sunglasses are inspired by the colors on Oakley’s Prizm lenses. Orange represents “the fire that burns inside each and every competitor” while yellow is “for the sun that lights the path of athletes brave enough to pursue their dreams.” The Harmony Fade collection is made up of seven types of goggles and five styles of cheap sunglasses for a variety of sports.
The Prizm lens technology is found in Oakley’s snow, sport and everyday lines. In the snow line, the technology claims to dramatically enhance contrast and visibility over a wide range of light conditions, and was engineered to offer this versatility and reduce the need to switch lenses as lighting conditions change. If you watched the Men’s Halfpipe final, you saw how half of the pipe was in sun and the other in shade, a perfect example of the conditions athletes need to adjust to.
Team USA snowboarder and crowd favorite Chloe Kim was wearing her Harmony Fade goggles when she won a gold medal – by a huge margin – in the Ladies’ Halfpipe this week. Now 17, she was unable to compete in the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi because the rules deemed her too young, even though she was likely good enough. At the 2016 US Grand Prix in Park City, UT, she became the first women snowboarder ever to land back-to-back 1080s in competition. That same run scored a 100, and she remains the only female snowboarder to achieve this perfect score – though she came quite close in her winning Olympic run.
Another high-profile woman Oakley athlete sporting the ubiquitous goggles is U.S. alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who at age 18 became the youngest alpine skier, male or female, to win gold in the slalom at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Shiffrin failed to defend her title this week, coming in fourth, but did get another gold in giant slalom.
It’s not just Americans – the goggles are everywhere. Norwegian snowboarder and Oakley athlete Staale Sandbech wore them when he competed in the Men’s Slopestyle, coming in fourth place, and will also wear a pair for the Men’s Big Air next week. Though he’s now 24, he too found athletic accomplishment at an early age; in 2010, at age 16, he became the youngest male Norwegian athlete to compete in the winter Olympics.
I recently wrote about the big splash that the fringed, Western-style leather gloves worn by Team USA in the Opening Ceremonies made, lighting up social media during the festivities. The Harmony Fade has picked up the mantle, and will likely be a mainstay on the slopes long after the 2018 Winter Olympic Games have come and gone.