Twenty Fifty
Oct 20, 2017 5:32 PM
How relevant are factory customs to you?

It used to be that factory customs were all the rage. Every time we saw a new frame or lens colour that wasn't for sale publicly, we ooh and aaahhhed. When Total_O had his factory customs up on eBay, we couldn't get enough of them (until of course we did).

10 years later we have unlocked the mystery of how to do these cool customs, whether it be hydro dipping, anodizing, Cerekoe-ing, or what have you (the work of those like Zach, Josh or Brian is truly exceptional). The quality of work these days is very high end with some of them being indistinguishable from ones that come out of Oakley directly.

Because of these customs become so commonplace, I don't have that "must have" urge I used to have when I see a new item that's come out of the factory. Coupled with the fact that there are still collectors creating their own customs and passing them off as being from Oakley directly, I tend to bypass most factory customs being offered for sale (unless it is something truly unique).

In short, the "branding" of being a factory custom for eyewear or watches doesn't have influence on me these days. The cool factor will always hold more water, whether it be a regular release, third party or factory custom. But that's just me. Which leads me to you...

What are your thoughts on factory customs and how important are they to your collection?
Dann Thombs
Oct 20, 2017 6:15 PM
I've had a few. Like you mentioned, it was exciting once upon a time when they were far and few between. There was more lore to the pairs that differed from the norm. I think certain ones can still have some notoriety, but they need to be from one of the designers, and they need to be aesthetically pleasing.

There's also the factor of the one-off being something that is uniquely Oakley, or something that would only come from them. Anyone can hydrodip now, but only Oakley can have say a Cobalt pattern, or more specifically, their cobalt pattern. Just something about it being from the factory sets it apart. However the hand painted ones despite being more unique, hold less importance for me. They don't differ due to the production process, but rather just were painted once done.

My only real factory custom is my Ruby Ducati Cut New Zero. I like it because the lens was cut using their machines and is identical to the Black Iridium version. But since they didn't offer Ruby, it makes it unique. Touring the factory in 2005, I saw a Cobalt OTT. That would have been cool. I'm sure it was just a test run that someone did, but it was their proprietary hydrodip pattern.
.Greg .F
Oct 21, 2017 3:59 AM
I dont know if there is a difference from what we would call factory customs and / or prototypes. I have a few prototypes, most notable the Bladerunner. I love the splatter frames, although those are more of just a low volume run. I dont get super excited about "factory customs" unless it is really cool to me. RVF has been selling some, and while I was interested, the price drove me out. Just rambling here.
Harry in Poland
Harry .
Oct 26, 2017 5:41 PM
I still like factory customs, but these days there are people who'll make you virtually any custom you want and some of those are passed off as factory customs. I think that in the future provenance is going to be key when it comes to factory customs (thankfully I saved my ebay messages from Huneymonkey).
Twenty Fifty
Oct 29, 2017 6:59 AM
Agreed, provenance is key for any deal going forward. Gone are the days when you can just take another collector at their word. I went on a mini rant in this thread:

Cacat Man
Oct 29, 2017 9:47 PM
I guess I distinguish between "factory customs", "prototypes" and "customs".

To me, "factory customs" are customs that can be ordered straight from Oakley and are made up from OEM parts e.g. Jawbreakers etc to suit your taste and desired colour pattern/lens. These don't really have much value to me, because there are an infinite number of permutations, that are able to be put together. I generally don't purchase these types of customs at all, unless I pick up a good deal second hand, cannibalise what I want and shift the rest of the frame/lens on.

"Prototypes" are desirable to me, because they are not widely available, and let's face it, it's cool to be able to get as part of a collection because they are rare, and simultaneously provide some history of the "finished product". In terms of quality of work, a lot are incomplete, don't have matching boxes, or even have markings on the frame or lenses. This makes it difficult to determine whether they are genuine or not, which is the problem with paying high prices for these. And this is the main problem most of us wouldn't be willing to pay top dollar for stuff like this unless we have a traceable trustable history with the seller.

Case in point - It's no secret that Romeo van Frogstein (Ashley) would love to own one of those blue or purple factory OEM Juliets, but when I talked to him, he raised a good point. Unless you actually have a proven factory one, it's hard to tell if someone just customised it themselves for $120 or whether it's worth the price of a "one of three" in existence. Everything is made by human beings, whether OEM or by someone who is non-Oakley, so who's to tell what the origins are? c.f. Fake artwork that floats around nowadays.

"Customs" breathe new life into old beat up frames. But they also provide "styles" in models that weren't OEM or provide a cheaper version of the original. Oak mentioned some of the non-OEM "Greats" - Brian, Zach, Josh etc. I have a number of customs from all of those guys which include Juliet rust decays, chameleon frogskin, RJ Gen 2 decay, stands that are glow in the dark, Atmos Holbrooks, gold chromed Jawbones, Gold Tintin 3D gascan with 24k, stealth black juliets and R1, Infinite hero new Racking Jackets, Holbrook blends, various cerakoted Juliets, a pair of polished carbon ichiro XS complete with etched slate lenses and linegear rubbers.

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and the purists amongst us would say that customs aren't really worth much at the end of the day as a beat up standard pair and that people always want "original". Well, yes and no.

It makes sense that if you alter something from factory, it probably won't be worth as much when you go to sell. But I've seen some customs go for amazing prices, because of the amount of work people know needs be spent.

My argument is, that in a way, the stuff these artists produce are in much much less volumes than commercial OEM limited edition pieces. And often, they'll be better quality. Look at some of the OEM rust decay and green fade stuff and you'll understand. Customs often they take longer to produce as well, and with definitely no less skill than the artists at Oakley. The guys who produce this stuff are good enough to work at Oakley. The only difference is that they're on the other side of the fence.

Customising allows us to get something that is truly unique. To me, that's worth something.

Twenty Fifty
Oct 29, 2017 10:43 PM
Good write-up. This brings up a good point. Eventually the community will come to an agreement on the nomenclature. Is it a prototype, a factory custom/one off or something else? Everyone has different opinions on it. For instance I find "prototype" overused these days (both by collectors and Oakley employees) just because it's the catch phase to make things seem more valuable; most of which are described as "prototypes" by collectors are actually one-offs made for athletes or other internal reasons rather than actually a precursor to another pair.

But that's just me. The larger community will ultimately come to a consensus on the naming (much like other naming conventions we are currently using) and we'll carry that forward.
Cacat Man
Oct 29, 2017 11:12 PM
You raise a great point re: nomenclature.

The Cambridge dictionary defines "prototype" as, "the first example of something, such as a machine or other industrial product, from which all later forms are developed:"

This implies:-
1. It's the "first" of it's kind
2. It precedes the eventual product.

But I'd probably take a broader view for a number of reasons. Even if the "prototype" didn't make it into production, but was still made at the Oakley factory, I'd define as a "prototype" e.g. Ferrari Carbon Prime which was never released publicly. Samples were only made.

Also, it's problematic to try and define which actual chrome frogskin was the "first" of it's kind.

So to me, a more practical definition with regards to Oakley, would be, "Oakley produced piece developed to help develop a product and not officially released to the public (e.g. employees for public use, or specific persons outside of Oakley e.g. sportsmen) regardless of whether it eventually was produced". This would cover failed partnership models (Ferrari) etc.

I'd distinguish them as being different from "one offs" (even though they may have been 30 pieces) which I'd define as "non-Oakley store released complete pairs (with or without packaging/boxes) given as sponsorship etc to athletes e.g. Sydney Olympic R1 with persimmon or organisations (e.g. bullrun gascans, cape epic/rapha jawbones) or given specifically to employee representatives (e.g. gascans with Swarovski crystals Oakley logo)".

In the "one off" category, I'd probably include the group "factory customs" which is Oakley employees involved in the production process themselves, doing a "frankenstein" product for themselves e.g. distressed mars, or frankstein Juliet that Romeo van frog stein sold recently. These experimental pieces didn't really serve to help advance new models. They were mashups for fun by people within Oakley for their own reasons. Obviously, these are quite rare, and no different from "customs", apart from the fact that the machines used to make them were not just Oakley, but "industrial" grade.

Of course, there probably is some grey areas too. As you know, some versions were available to the public, but only under certain circumstances e.g. Livestrong C6ers went to auction or were limited to a specific outlet e.g. Juan pelota jawbone, or more recently, the TP12 frogskin and Holbrook in Bangkok etc. Strictly speaking, not everyone had the same chance to access these pairs.

Twenty Fifty
Oct 30, 2017 12:00 AM
Maybe an example would better serve the discussion: Most of those I've seen listed as "prototype" are pieces with different colour coatings. You put a non-public release coating on a Gascan (or any other model that's already in circulation) in a recent run done by HQ, and all of a sudden it's called a prototype. I'm not sure what's it suppose to be a prototype of? The model has been out for many years so it's not a prototype of the frame itself; the coating colour has been used on other frames or a variant of it, so it's not really a prototype of the coating; the lenses and icons are in the same boat as the coating. To me there's nothing to say it's a pre-cursor to anything. Because of that, it's more a one-off run to me rather than a prototype.

I understand using a broader definition would maybe be beneficial, but that makes it a buzz word more than anything. To me, the true prototypes are the SLA resin models, clay models, 3D printed models, pairs given to athletes for testing and later refined/adapted, etc. It's rare that I would classify anything as a "prototype" when the model has already been released to the public for many years and the big change is in the frame coating.

A discussion thread I started a while back for discussion on "prototype":

Cacat Man
Oct 30, 2017 12:24 AM
Thanks Oak,

You've obviously thought about this a lot more than me. I find it a very interesting discussion!! Thanks.

The SLA resin models, etc would undoubtedly qualify as "prototypes" as it's clearer what they're precursors of.

It just gets fuzzy around the edges once the experimental ones are released by employees to the public. Some of them are in various stages of development ranging from half painted, to completed, but with a different finish or lens. I guess you could always label these as "experimental" or "unreleased versions".

Practically, it doesn't matter what they're called, as long as we are able to communicate exactly what we mean by the terms, which is what you are concerned about.

I'd still say that the Ferrari Carbon Prime was a "prototype" because it was a version that was being "tested" prior to being commercially released, even though it never reached production. As you point out in your other thread, one could just avoid defining "prototype" by labelling a "prototype" something which an Oakley employee labels!! Of course, then, it just defers to someone else to decide the definition. Once again, how you'd be able to determine that is extremely difficult.

You talk about prototypes being athlete models which were tested and later refined and adapted. But I assume that you wouldn't call Oil rig 1 a "prototype" even though it was superseded by the oil rig 2 or RJ Gen 1/2, Jawbone/New RJ. Most athlete only versions as I understand it, were different frame colouring and lens combinations. Some of the early R1 MJ models had squarer side arms than standard. But I wouldn't call them prototypes.

However, overall, it sounds like you'd draw the circle a bit smaller than me. I use the term more loosely than you.

Twenty Fifty
Oct 30, 2017 12:53 AM

You talk about prototypes being athlete models which were tested and later refined and adapted. But I assume that you wouldn't call Oil rig 1 a "prototype" even though it was superseded by the oil rig 2 or RJ Gen 1/2, Jawbone/New RJ.

- cacatman

Agreed, I typically call those updates to existing models. Oakley tends to make running changes to models as it goes through the years.
Oct 30, 2017 3:16 AM
I'm a set it and forget it kind of guy; I prefer OCP, mostly out of laziness. I tend to mix and match lenses to various frames. I am thinking about having a frame or two customized, but noting comes to mind; I am not a creative guy at all.

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