How To Heritage, Ft. The Oakley Frogskins - Stab Mag

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Speaking of heritage, here's the fruits of an early, chlorinated Oakley x Stab joint from the print archives. (Photo: Sergio Villalba)

How To Heritage, Ft. The Oakley Frogskins

A masterclass in navigating the zeitgeist.

style // Sep 6, 2023
Words by Alistair Klinkenberg
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In partnership with Oakley.

Unless you really don’t care (in which case, maybe dip out now) you can’t help but notice that vintage practical garments and accessories from the late-90s to early-2000s have become mighty sought after in recent years.

Certain surf brands have unwittingly found themselves caught in the crosshairs, with Oakley (clearly far more than a ‘surf’ brand) topping the hype pile. In fact, currently, few brands in the vintage space are more sought after. Other than your obvious rare gem money spinners.

The evolution of ‘Gorp’, as it’s known, is likely plot-able, but who has the time? My theory is that it’s end-of-days garb. Think about it. New day, new wildfire/flood/drought/plague/school shooting etc, so you gots to be ready to go at the drop of a (technical 6 panel) hat. When my local volcano explodes, catch me swishing away from the molten lava mach ten, dressed accordingly.

As much as the colours change, the silhouette remains eternally flattering.

When it comes to examining the legacy of the sports eyewear brand, particularly in surf, you can’t ignore the enduring legacy of the Oakley Frogskins.

The Frogskins first dropped in ’85 and was O’s first jaunt into the ‘lifestyle’ game. Aka normal stuff that doesn’t require the wearer going breakneck speeds or trying to catch fast moving leather balls. Oakley founder Jim ‘The Mad Scientist’ January was a big Moto X head and started out making Moto goggles to plug a hole in the market, and the Frogskins were really the spark that lit the eternally-burning bonfire. And boy did Oakley hit that open market with a vengeance.

The Frogskins’ USP when they came out was the variety of colours avaliable, both frames and lenses — which is something that Oakley have run with until this day. It’s amazing how much the same silhouette changes as you move through the colour schemes. From the garish and awesome sapphire lens/clear frame, to the murdered-out originals. Not to mention the Dover Street Market Collab (as featured above), which you can still get btw. In short, the Frogskins are part of the surf style journey, and to this day it’s one of the few frames you can see parked on the beaks of cool kids and dorky Dads alike.

On the subject of letting upstarts throw paint at your lineage — aka ‘collabs’ — Oakley’s navigation of the zeitgeist has been just masterful. The juxtaposition of success has always been that it comes at the cost of the edge that got people’s attention in the first place.

As in, how could a brand like Oakley, who literally made Maverick’s visor, capitalise on the cool kids being interested in some of their more tech-forward designs from seasons past? Just give the cool kids the keys to the archive permanently. Obviously.

In this case, Oakley have allowed Brain Dead — LA brand/design gaggle etc — to head up their ‘Factory Team Project‘, which is a super fun, kaleidoscopic take on the Oakley heritage across their many disciplines, designed at breakneck speed for the modern age.

The news story was in Portuguese, so we’re guessing this fit was for a party of some sort, but seriously, please bring that vest/TNs combo to the next contest.

Part of my brief was to remind the surf-adjacent public that one Gabriel Medina is an Oakley lifer. And on further pondering, we reached the conclusion that he might also be one of the few top tier surfers who could pull off an elite, Bomfunk MCs, 2001, gorped-out style.

A few laps of Google reveals that we’ve slept on that gangsta-gorp party, which Gabs was heading to with Neymar Jr in the late-2010s. So the only thing to do now in furthering the Oakley x Gabby relationship is, clearly, bring back the Oakley Water Jacket. Only this time make it a Braindead x Oakley Factory Team Project x Gabriel Medina re-issue/signature model. Launch the frame at maxing Teaupoo with Gabby getting blown into the channel in a heat looking like he’s just returned from the future? Instant sell out.


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