Oakley's eyewear has historically comprised distinct categories: Sport Specific, Lifestyle, and glasses that fit somewhere in between. During the early years there were no official designations, as the Frogskins were the only lifestyle pair amidst the Eyeshade, Blade system, M Frames and Zeros. Then in 1994 Oakley formally devised two separate lineups, each named for their flagship product. These would form the future of Oakley's 3D fully sculptured glasses, since prior to this point, most models were created from bent and relatively flat shapes.
The sport specific pairs would be labeled as the Jackets, glasses that fit your face like apparel fits your body. The debut pair was the Eye Jacket which strengthened this naming convention, and most models in this category would play off the namesake to some degree. The following year produced the Trenchcoat, which was an over-sized Eye Jacket, followed by a brief absence of new sport products until the Lifestyle line could catch up.
1996 was a big year for Oakley, and many products met an end. Glasses in the Blades system were discontinued, as well as the classic Frogskins, but not before changing to a fully sculptured model called the New Frogskin. Since this new model would start the new Lifestyle category, the entire group was called Frogskins.
Having now formally established the two main categories for O Matter, each following year would typically produce a model for both. The same year the New Frogskin was released, the sport line received the Straight Jacket. In 1997, another 'coat' was released in the form of the Topcoat, and in the Frogskin lineup the first of the numerically named glasses was the Fives. The following year would only offer one new Lifestyle model with the Tens, but three related sports specific glasses. These were the extreme Racing Jacket, the more casual Minute, and the Moon, which was an O Matter counterpart to the X-Metal Mars. Each retained a likeness of the X-Metal temple and were styled with intake ports rather than icons. This would be the last time any model would use this styling choice however, since 1999 would bring changes to almost all of Oakley's products.
Just prior to the turn of the Millennium, several key features changed on all glasses. The first was the O Matter formula. This new consistency allowed for greater flexibility, which was needed since older O Matter models were prone to breaking if stressed. The other feature was the transition to True Metal icons, which was an additional step towards making counterfeit products harder to produce. Products at this stage were affected in one of three ways. They were either eliminated, updated to the new technology without changing much else, or they were updated and branded as a 'New' model or a 2.0. O Matter was not alone in this change, as Wires and the long standing O Frame Goggle also underwent similar transformations. The Racing Jacket only updated the O Mater formula, while the Minute updated O Matter and swapped out the intake port for a Metal Icon. Both retained their original names, and in most cases even their SKU numbers. The Eye and Straight Jackets however appended 'New' to their names, and updated product numbers.
Up until this point, it was easy to discern Jackets and Frogskins. Jackets typically had unobtanium earsocks often accompanying nose pieces. Frogskins instead had pitted or channeled ear stems to help with grip. Due to this distinction, Jackets would often end up around $20-30 more than Frogskins. However in 2000, the Twenty/XX was released as a Frogskin in the lifestyle range, but had both nose pieces and ear socks. The price was also in the range of the Jackets, and aside from the name being the Roman Numeral for 20, there was nothing other than Oakley's word that it wasn't a Jacket. It was very similar to the Minute, almost making that model more out of place in its own category than the XX, since both were more oriented for dual purpose wear. Modern categorization would place these both in the same hybrid family, but it would be a few more years before Oakley would create a name for that.
Also in 2000, a more traditional lifestyle piece, the Four, was released along with two Jackets. Both Jackets adopted their group's name in their title. The Water Jacket was a re-purposed Racing Jacket, even using the same mold but with a larger nosepiece, vented lenses, and a strap kit. The Eye Jacket received a sequel in name only, with the Eye Jacket 2.0. It shared no similar features as the ear stems were styled after the Time Bomb. The original Eye Jacket, however, remained in production.
In 2001 there were two additions to the Frogskins, a smaller version of the Four and an update to the Fives with the Fives 2.0. This time, the original was discontinued, and the 2.0 was a true replacement. Adding to the confusion between the two lines, the Scar was released and had no ear socks. However the style was aggressive and due to X-Metal lugs on the temples, the price point was much higher than any O Matter to date, so it was placed in the Jackets category.
2002 brought three more deliberate entries to the Jacket lineup, with the Eye Jacket 3.0 and Half Jacket, as well as a third named the Half Pint. This was a child sized pair of glasses sharing similar design cues. The Splice debuted and despite no naming convention providing clues to its categorization, it had all the traditional features of a Jacket. The only lifestyle pair that year was the Fate, which also doubled as a pseudo-female specific pair, as some colorways were released with Script logos rather than the hollow icon. Lastly, while not part of the two categories discussed here, Oakley was experimenting with a Magnesium range of glasses, and borrowed elements from the Four for the lifestyle model creating the Mag Four; Splice for the active model creating the Mag Switch, and the Mag M Frame for the non-Jacket related active wear.
In 2003 to 2004, there began a slow decline in the use of Jacket vs. Frogskin designations. Confusion between the two had started year's prior, but eventually the website would no longer list the two, and would instead prioritize classification based on frame material. This became most evident with the release of the Halo in 2003, which used an Acetate frame material. It was primarily designed to be a female specific pair, and a corresponding O Matter release accompanied it with the Pocket. Lifestyle frames also included the basic and low priced Monster Dog, as well as the XS Fives. With the discontinuation of the Scar, two models were created in its wake. Both the Valve and Plate retained the Scar's lack of ear socks, and both were considered Jackets.
The following year made classification even worse. The release of the Dartboard coincided with the long awaited return of the Zero line, and due to the frameless design, the Dartboard would have made a proper addition. However on the website, it was briefly listed as a Frogskin, but on the box it was listed as a Jacket. It did have unobtainium inserts on the ear stems, but the nose pieces were ones used on wires. Based on one's definition, it could fit almost any non-metal category. Making matters worse, a model intended to compete and possibly replace the Minute was released as the Unknown. Despite possessing ear socks and being the spiritual successor to a Jacket, the Unknown was classified as a Frogskin. Considering the two closest models, the XX and Minute, it was clear that a new family between Sport and Lifestyle was needed.
2005 was the year a stake was driven into the two categories...at least as far as we thought. Square O debuted with the Gascan, and the many models that followed had similar designs. A few other lifestyle models appeared, and it was a guessing game at this point, as how to categorize them. A source from within the company was able to clear up the designation of certain models like the Bottlecap, Riddle, and Montefrio during this time, stating that the Jacket and Frogskin classifications were still being used behind the scenes. It soon became clear that all Square O branded glasses were going to be lifestyle models, and those retaining the Icon would typically be sport specific or a new hybrid family that was greatly needed. Exceptions were made for derivative models like the Monster Pup and Fives 3.0 since they were directly related to existing Frogskin releases.
Despite no official family or categorical names, one could guess where certain models would be placed. Most sport models would specifically include 'Jacket' in their name as they historically had. Releases like the Flak Jacket, Straight Jacket II, Split Jacket, and Fast Jacket were obvious Sports models, and non-Square O glasses like the Fives 4.0 retained older namesakes. Other models converted to the Square O to help with consistency as in the case of the glasses that were once part of the Stretchline collection.
Finally Frogskins officially became the Lifestyle category. Jackets and models such as the XX and Unknown which should have been Jackets, split into two groups: Active and Performance. Performance models include the sport specific glasses that were part of the Jacket line, but also absorbed the M Frames. This made sense due to the fact that M Frames were their own group for a while, but with the release of the Radar, it was not appropriate to have those included. Instead groups based on function were preferred.
A fourth group emerged called Iconic. While Square O models were firmly in the Lifestyle category, elliptical icon models served several purposes. Some were sport, some were wires, and some were higher end products that didn't have many equals. The creation of the Iconic line helped clear up the final group of oddly placed glasses. Some such as the Spike and Hatchet were labeled as wires, despite having thick metals frames. As Carbon Fiber was used more often, these were placed in the Iconic family as well.
The current officially designated categories are as follows:
- Anything 6 base or less with no unobtanium on the ear stems
- anything 6 base or higher with a full frame and unobtanium on both the ear and nose. (Most of the women frames are actually considered active)
- 8 to 8.75 base with unobtanium on the ear and nose, with interchangeable lenses.
- Anything C-5 and most TI, carbon fiber and aluminum.
- follows the X-metal design language currently Madman & Badman.