“We’re just trying to put smiles on the faces of people everywhere,” says senior marketing manager, Maddy Isbell, of SPY Optic’s mission. It’s this fun-loving philosophy that keeps things fresh at the independent eyewear brand. Founded nearly 21 years ago by a handful of motocross athletes wanting an alternative to Oakley, SPY has developed into a major eyewear player that has been embraced across multiple categories including moto, surf, cycling and snow.
In February of 2013, SPY released its Happy Lens, which incorporates the first therapeutic light filtering technology to find its way into an eyewear lens. It works by allowing certain beneficial rays of light through the lens while blocking the more harmful ones and boosting color contrast all at the same time. Similar technologies can be found in light bulbs and window glass designed to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the low light months of northern latitudes. These lenses literally help keep you from getting SAD. “We wanted to develop something that would improve athlete performance,” says Isbell. “Turns out, multiple studies suggest that letting more long wavelength blue light into your eyes can improve mood, focus and alertness. With Happy Lenses you see better, feel better and perform better.”
The Happy Lens project was developed with the help of eyewear industry legend Jim Pritts, who over the years has helped curate lens technology for many premium brands while coming to be known as The Wizard of Light. Thanks to this project, the entire company has adopted a “happy disrespect for the usual way of looking at life,” says Isbell. By next season, nearly 90 percent of the SPY line will incorporate this progressive technology. SPY also offers Happiness Guaranteed, a 14-day window for US consumers to return their sunglasses or goggles directly to SPY if they’re not satisfied. But that’s a rarity—of the 95,000 Happy lenses sold over the last two years, only 13 were returned.
For 2015-16, every premium goggle in the SPY line will have a Happy Lens option, including the all-new Ace, an interchangeable-lens goggle that comes in at a wallet-friendly $110 price point and in 23 style-conscious colorways. It’s the first cylindrical-lens goggle to incorporate Happy Lens tech as well as the first to use SPY’s new slider-actuated Quick Draw lens-change system.
In addition to technological developments, SPY’s increasing success in the ski industry can be attributed to the team of innovative skiers who spread the good news of SPY and personify the company’s free-spirited approach to the industry. Current team manager Andrew Thomas says the groundwork was laid by his predecessor and Level 1 founder Josh Berman who signed the likes of Wiley Miller, Ahmet Dadali and Adam Delorme while he was team manager. Now, with the recent addition of another industry visionary in Phil Casabon, SPY expects the Happy Lens story to reach even more freeskiers. And Thomas is quick to note, “We’re not exclusive to any one type of skier. We want to appeal to people who enjoy themselves whether they ski powder, ski the park or are just learning to make a turn. If we can help put a smile on their face, then we‘re doing something right.”
Doom – SPY + Wiley Miller
Featuring eye-catching design, the oversized Doom is Wiley Miller’s spherical Happy Lens pro model. It includes a bonus Happy Lens and utilizes the Lock Steady quick-change lens system which allows you to adjust quickly to changing conditions at the touch of a button. $220
￼Ace – SPY + Realtree®
The all-new Quick Draw lens change system puts the midsized Ace at the top of the deck. The goggle comes with two injected, cylindrical Happy Lenses to keep your vision clear no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. $130
Bravo – SPY + Arcade
Featuring SPY’s Lock Steady technology, one of the quickest lens change systems in the game, the midsized Bravo is your first line of defense against nature’s harsh elements. A free premium bonus lens allows you to easily adjust to changing conditions at the touch of a button. A bonus Arcade belt with matching graphics will keep your kit in check. $230