SHOT Daily - Day 1 - 2019 SHOT Show

Page 34

f e at u r e s

Profound Concept


Wiley X is dedicated to a singular premise By Slaton L. White hirty years ago, military veteran Myles Freeman Sr. founded Wiley X to further a profound concept: “To protect the eyes of those who protect America.” Like many businesses in this country, Wiley X started small, and Freeman enlisted the help of his sons—Dan Freeman and Myles Freeman Jr.—in the family enterprise. Today, the brothers are coowners of a worldwide enterprise. How did Wiley X achieve this?

Basically, through a lot of hard work and an unwavering commitment to build superior products. “Wiley X is not your typical sunglass brand,” says Myles Freeman Jr., co-owner and president of sales. “We want to produce a great-looking assortment, but it’s common knowledge in the industry that Wiley X strives to be so much more than that. To be clear, the characteristics that make a Wiley X a Wiley X is that we manage to fuse safety, fashion, and functionality into every pair we manufacture.” That said, you could say that the prime directive of the company is “safety.” Freeman agrees.

Safety First

“Safety is incredibly important to the brand,” he says. “It’s what separates us from the masses, and it’s what we believe in. It’s an easy conversation to have with a potential customer when they understand where your passion comes from. In other words, you only have one set of eyes. Why would you ever compromise them?” Freeman stresses that Wiley X has set the benchmark for safety, style, and utility in the premium performance sunglass category “by absolutely insisting that all adult premium eyewear products meet the ANSI Z87.1 safety standard for high-velocity/high-mass impact. Our Youth Force line of sport protective eyewear meets ASTM F803 sports safety standards, while also being designed for kids to wear all day long. Furthermore, it’s no secret that many adult designs also meet various mil-spec ballistic military fragmentation standards for both goggles and spectacles.” He believes the emphasis on safety remains a strong selling point for retailers. But he also says, “From a retail perspective, why not add a choice to your store lineup that offers multifunction capabilities as well?” Freeman also says another key selling point is the company’s heritage as a supplier to the U.S. military. “You could say Wiley X was

born on the battlefield. Today, this very same ballistic technology worn on the battlefield is available to many civilian markets. Wiley X eyewear and gloves are ideal for weekend warriors or those who live an active lifestyle. Our cut-resistant Kevlar and Nomex gloves used around the world in military and security applications offer the ultimate hand protection, while allowing maximum dexterity. In addition, our eyewear with patented Removable Facial Cavity Seals cuts through Mother Nature’s harshest elements by protecting the wearer from wind, dust, debris, and peripheral light, while boosting polarization. The end result provides our customers the most functional viewing experience possible.”

Looking Ahead

One of the hallmarks of industry leaders is the ability to think ahead, to try to anticipate evolving trends in order to stay ahead of the pack. Freeman believes Wiley X excels in this area. “As for industry trends in tactical glasses, we’re seeing multi-platform sizing for unilateral, functional supply of many large companies and battalions. Along with that, there is demand for consistent and progressive advancement of transitional lens technologies, and temples that fit better with all communication headwear. The future involves eyewear that offers communicative and smart technology to the wearer, including GPS and other forms of mission-­critical information.” Wiley X offers both full-frame and partial-frame glasses. Doing so allows the company to offer the type of frame that best suits individual needs. “It really boils down to the individual,” Freeman says. “The standard answer has to do with sight lines and frames getting in the way if your lower view point is the focal point of whatever activity you’re engaged in. Industry experts will tell you that a half frame doesn’t disrupt your sight line. My take on that is that it’s mostly individual preference. We can design glasses to wrap tightly


The author with a pair of Wiley X Romer 3 full-frame glasses that he wore on a ruffed grouse hunt last fall. Wiley X also was able to provide prescription lenses for this model.

and keep a frame or no frame out of your sight lines regardless. But for some with a high nose bridge or cheekbones, you just can’t get around the image of a frame. This is where naturally a half-frame design would be the clear recommendation.”

The Women’s Market

The shooting sports are seeing an increase in participation by women. Wiley X, Freeman says, is aware of the trend. “Because we are arguably the most durable product out there, we obviously tend to have a lot of male followers,” he says. “There are also those who believe we only sell to men. But, to be honest, we’re already selling pretty well to women. So, the uptick in

women’s shooting keeps us sharp as it relates to designing and building more unisex-oriented products. It certainly influences how we market these products.” Like many manufacturers today, evolving technologies and business practices have had a profound affect on company operations. “We truly believe that changes in technology are directly related to brand and channel growth,” Freeman says. “Therefore, we’re making what we think are the necessary and correct strategic adjustments in order to have a presence in e-commerce in a way that benefits our brick-and-mortar dealer network. I can’t really say more than that right now, but we’re working on it, and we think the future will be very exciting for us and our retail partners.” Booth #32221. (