Brian Takumi, VP of Creative & Soul at Oakley, talks rebrand, Future Genesis, and the future of Oakley
In the hallowed corridors of Oakley, each narrative unfolds as an epic, and every product serves as a manifestation of the brand’s unswerving commitment to shaping the zeitgeist. The journey commenced in 1975, igniting an unending pursuit of the future and etching a chronicle marked by culturally defining products. As the venerable brand stands at the crossroads of history and destiny, it embarks on a transformative odyssey, recapturing its disruptive spirit under the mantle of Future Genesis.
“At Oakley, we don’t believe in predicting the future – we create our own”, shares Caio Amato, Oakley’s chief marketing officer. “Oakley has always been famous for creating its own vision of the future, from product to the architectural design of our stores. Future Genesis evolves this story to ensure we all dream the same dream.” Brian Takumi, VP of Creative & Soul at Oakley, continues, “Future Genesis gives us the permission to stay rooted in our brand’s legacy while pushing the boundaries of our ambition. The core DNA of Oakley isn’t about following trends that already exist, but instead, building a vision for what could be. Future Genesis will act as a platform for us to continue innovating with technology and design, moving the brand and industry forward.”
This metamorphic rebrand transcends a mere aesthetic overhaul; it constitutes a profound reconnection with Oakley’s DNA, an elemental shift forging an evolved brand aesthetic and creative paradigm. The harbinger of this transformative narrative is Maxine Fearlight, a beacon illuminating the brand’s future, embodying the audacity intrinsic to Oakley’s essence. The unveiling of Future Genesis materialises in two cinematic vignettes, a visual symphony echoing Oakley’s 1992 “Max Fearlight” film. These films feature Max and Maxine Fearlight, heralding a whole new chapter where the former is forced to see the world through the eyes of his daughter Maxine, a young brave explorer. It symbolises the bygone and the future.
Products showcased in these cinematic showcases are not just artefacts; they serve as purposive elements in the unfolding narrative. Max, adorned in the revamped Medusa, showcases a legacy product reimagined into a digital concept, perfectly aligned with his virtual pursuits. The digital realm seamlessly interfaces with reality as the 13:11 sunglasses, inspired by those donned by Maxine in the cinematic teasers, transcend the screen to become a tangible reality, set to launch this year. Takumi succinctly notes, “These products serve as tangible expressions of the brand’s vision for the future, combining historical elements from the past with modern design and technology, leading the way to a brighter future.”
Takumi, in an insightful revelation, shares the design thinking process that propelled this transformative journey. Inspired by Johanna Hoffman, the Speculative Future approach envisions the future through the lens of science fiction and storytelling, a methodology Oakley plans to leverage for innovative problem-solving.
The interview also elucidates Maxine’s role in bridging generational values, embodying a protopian future driven by optimism and exploration. “The spirit and optimism Maxine leads with [in the film] are the same that guides Oakley’s approach to product design – and is a shift from the dystopian vision that her father, Max Fearlight, represented,” Takumi explains. The duality between Max and Maxine serves as a storytelling strategy, emphasising the critical relationship between past disruptiveness and future optimism.
This narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Oakley’s overarching theme, “Be Who You Are,” fostering acceptance and authenticity. “This is really our vision of our protopian world. To inspire everyone to find and live who they are and want to be. At the same time, accept who others are.”
He further elaborates on the inspiration behind this vision, sharing that he also took cues from Kevin Kelly’s Protopian Futures–a notion defined by a future better than today but not perfect.
“We can still be about performance and technology, but we can do it through inspiring others with positivity rather than fear. All to make the world a better place–even if it’s just a little bit. This is very much art imitates life. As a brand that is 50 years old, we have rabid fans who have been with us the entire journey. And, we have momentum with a new generation that is just discovering us. In this protopian journey, it’s not about one or the other. It’s about all being accepted. And this is the real journey the brand is on.”
As the conversation unfolds, Takumi sheds light on other aspects of the rebrand, notably Oakley’s updated brand aesthetic, exemplified by the renovation of the brand HQ lobby. The transformation, from a bunker-like structure to an inviting space, symbolises Oakley’s evolution while staying true to its core. The introduction of light, new materials, and a welcoming ambience herald a shift from seclusion to inclusivity.
“Our goal was to turn the lobby from a bunker to escape the outside world to a space where we welcome people in and come together. We brought in a ton of glass to increase the visibility across the rooms. The store floor replaced concrete with wood. We brought in greenery. The light throughout the lobby brought colour and new warmth into it. Even our loyalists and long-term employees have been excited about how we stayed true to the heart of the brand but evolved it. And, trust me, everyone was VERY sceptical when they heard we were updating it.”
He also shared that the integration of technology, design, and storytelling within Future Genesis has become a cornerstone for Oakley’s forward momentum. This relationship materialises in brand campaigns, collaborations, and product releases, promising an immersive and interconnected experience for Oakley’s audience.
Takumi concludes by alluding to Oakley’s plans to leverage digital platforms for a more interactive and connected experience, exploring the realms of AR/VR, gaming, and AI. The platform’s potential to port characters, share technology stories, and construct immersive worlds underscores Oakley’s commitment to evolving with technological advancements.
As Takumi hints at more to come, especially with the 50th Anniversary approaching, consumers can anticipate a year filled with collaborations, product releases, and initiatives building upon the Future Genesis narrative. The brand’s trajectory promises a continued exploration of the unprecedented, inspiring a future that aligns with Oakley’s rebellious spirit and commitment to shaping the extraordinary.