Sports performance and lifestyle brand Oakley has opened its second physical location in London, following their first store on King Street in Covent Garden. The new Oakley location at 23 Carnaby Street was launched with the special attendance of England and Arsenal forward Alessia Russo, who shared her enthusiasm for the brand’s ability to ‘[push] boundaries and [celebrate] who we are as individuals’.
Carnaby is an iconic outlet shopping destination nestled in London’s West End in Soho, much like the Icon outlet at O2, where fashion and cosmetics brands have found a home. Carnaby’s mix of high-fashion, independent, and even vintage boutiques and stores makes it the perfect fit for the standout Oakley brand.
Oakley on Carnaby Street
Oakley, founded in 1975 in California, has historically defied the boundaries of fashionable and functional eyewear. They’ve created thousands of eyewear styles favoured by athletes and street style enthusiasts. The new physical store is handy for those with prescriptions looking to try on a pair of Oakley glasses in person. For instance, customers can try on the bestselling Holbrook to see which frame colour suits their skin tone or if the HSTN’s unconventional design is lightweight enough for their daily lifestyle. Prescription glasses are just one of the products customers may not expect Oakley to carry, and a physical store helps create awareness in the growing UK market.
Besides eyeglasses, the brand has since expanded to create apparel, footwear, accessories, and Oakley sunglasses, all available to peruse at the Carnaby location. The Kato sunglasses, worn by cyclists Mark Cavendish and Sam Bennett, fit closely to the contours of the face. Visitors to the new store can experience its mask-like feel and try its adjustable rake system in person. An Oakley location in one of the UK’s most famed shopping districts signals the brand’s readiness to capture a larger share of the community, setting the stage for growth.
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Oakley takes the UK
Of the brand’s nearly 300 outposts, only a little over 180 are located in North America. The Carnaby location is just one of six new global stores that opened in 2023, per Laurie McDonald, general manager of the brand’s retail arm. Oakley’s mother company, EssilorLuxottica, is in an ideal position to chase growth for Oakley outside of its home country, given that the conglomerate charted €5.6 billion (£4.78 billion) of profits in the first quarter of 2022 alone. Double-digit growth is coming out of European markets like the UK, Germany, and Spain, and Oakley was one of the high-end brands that drove this success. Additionally, Oakley led EssilorLuxottica’s e-commerce growth in 2021, bolstering confidence that this pattern can continue in brick-and-mortar locations.
These locations allow UK consumers to interact with Oakley products more meaningfully as the brand approaches its 50th anniversary in 2025. With the launch of their innovative Future Genesis storytelling platform, enthusiasts can now witness the unveiling of products online and then visit an Oakley outlet upon release to appreciate and purchase the product in person. This real-life element is becoming more crucial for Oakley sunglasses, whose lightweight materials and one-of-a-kind features need to be seen – and felt – to be believed. Plus, a 2023 survey found that 88% of Gen Z Brits plan to visit a physical store to make purchases, with 68% opting for the hybrid convenience of click-and-collect. A physical Oakley store encourages more purchases, further driving growth.
As the Carnaby location enjoys more foot traffic and more locations are rolled out in the UK and other emerging areas, Oakley is gearing up for significant expansion. By expanding its prescription glasses, sunglasses, and other offerings, Oakley can share the foundation of a lifelong brand relationship with British eyewear lovers.