Thursday July 31st, 2014

Any 9-year-old—or 5-year-old, for that matter—hitting ball fields in the summer or simply pedaling frantically through the streets of their neighborhood knows about performance. Oakley decided it was time those same youth knew about performance gear.

While companies have long made adult-designed high-performance shoe and apparel to fit a smaller frame, this spring Oakley debuted the first performance eyewear geared for kids. (We heard in a song somewhere that the kids are our future.)

The new Quarter Jacket line—a play off the California brand’s Flak Jacket and Half Jacket adult lines—was engineered for youth, fitting faces of all grade school ages, including Little League baseball and softball teams, an organization that partnered with Oakley as a sponsor in April.

The Quarter Jacket brings Oakley’s most common adult-sized engineering into a smaller frame and lens, coming in six different frame/lens combinations for differing activities. The Quarter Jacket also has interchangeable lenses and prescription lens options.

The Oakley Quarter Jacket's Plutonite lens' Iridium coating says it will enhance a kid's vision by balancing light transmission.

With an 8.75 base lens curvature to increase peripheral protection, Oakley’s Plutonite lens material filters out 100 percent of four different types of light, including UVA and harmful blues. Most lenses also have iridium coating for glare protection.

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With most youth sunglasses prone to slip right off noses, we tested the Quarter Jackets on different-sized faces and the three-point fit of grippy material—Oakley has a fancier name they call Unobtainium—ear socks and nose pads increase hold during perspiration. The entire frame, made from a stress-resistant synthetic also offers up impact protection, another key to the Little League partnership.

Declan Lonergan, Oakley’s eyewear manager, tells the focus for the Quarter Jacket was really engineering a smaller frame “with our core focus on impact protection.”

“We want kids to be able to wear what the pros and their heroes are wearing,” he says.

If all goes well, maybe Oakley will next roll out the 1/8th line designed for toddlers. It’s all about the kids anyway.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. 

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