Oakley's Pursuit of Cool

Going a little overboard on products is part of what creates the company's edge

Peter Yee, senior design director for Oakley, works on new eyewear

It's not fair to say that the inmates are running the asylum at Oakley, the hypercool eyewear company — they're designing and engineering the joint as well. Employeeing new materials and daring designs for its products is the lifeblood of Oakley, but it's never been more important than now, with consumers needing more convincing than ever that pricey brand names are worth the cost.

Oakley made its name by turning ordinary sunglasses into a $150 branded-eyewear experience. And those are the cheap models. The company recently introduced the C Six, a limited-edition pair made from 75 layers of carbon fiber. Price:...

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