In almost five years, Roka has made a name for itself in the technical apparel space, launching first with wetsuits, positioning itself as the go-to brand for endurance athletes in triathlon circles. The brand expanded by outfitting athletes’ needs for the all three parts of the race: run, bike and swim.
In late 2016, the brand, cofounded by former competitive swimmers Rob Canales and Kurt Spenser, took their obsession with performance and broke into the eyewear market, using propriety technology to launch with an aviator sunglasses built for performance. In a short time, the sunglasses line has grown to 65 stockkeeping units meant to meet performance needs beyond the triathlon, including sunglasses options for snow sports, golf and everyday outdoor fitness activities.
While the current sunglasses line is prescription ready, the brand is positioning to take it a step further and last week at Vision Expo East teased an upcoming ophthalmic launch for mid-summer 2018, with a proper launch in September at Vision Expo West. For now the brand showed 3-D printed nylon prototype models in two sizes and gave a few details.
“Some of the things that make us unique in the sun space will also make us unique in optical. The big thing we are going to do, that not many brands have experimented with, is that the eyewear will come with adjustable nose pads; every pair will come with a key that customers can use to adjust the nose pad. We’ll have about 27 adjustments that you can make to fit your nose,” said Bradly Houk, Roka’s channel sales manager. “To us, fit is key, whether it is in wetsuits or eyewear.”
Until now, the brand has followed a direct to consumer model but the new sunglasses collection and upcoming ophthalmic range will sell at select bricks-and-mortar eyewear retailers. Currently sunglasses retail from $160 to $310, while prices of the upcoming optical assortment have yet to be set.