Defined 5.11's entrance into the realm of tactical eyewear
Designed 3 different models of eyewear as well as a universal protective case
Worked with top tactical figures from around the world to hone style and performance
Competitive bench marking and human factor testing ensured reliable fit and function
Where they were
5.11 had a solid reputation in tactical gear and apparel and wanted to extend their brand into the eyewear space.
Where we took them
Objex created three distinct pairs of glasses with looks good enough for everyday wear and enough performance to impress the pros.
If you found yourself in the middle of Hong Kong standing next to a Navy SEAL and watching the head of the Danish Fire Department try on a pair of Geordi La Forge-looking specs, you’d probably have some questions. The answers to those questions begin with the story of 5.11 and the alpha badass known as Jeff Gonzales. 5.11 is the number one name in tactical gear for law enforcement and military professionals. So when they wanted inspiration for their first foray into the world of eyewear, they sought out the number one dude in tactical combat. After a highly-decorated 12-year career as a Navy SEAL, Jeff Gonzales graduated to schooling the badasses of the future via weapons and tactics training for modern warfare and personal defense. He even authored a series of highly-regarded shooter’s manuals. Needless to say, Jeff knows what the pros demand of their gear. 5.11 hired Objex to distill the essence of Jeff Gonzales and infuse it into three models of tactical eyewear—a full frame, a half-frame, and a shooting style—plus a storage case.
We started by talking to the man himself about what is important to military professionals and first responders in terms of function and style when they’re picking a pair of specs. Jeff told us the first requirement is a form fit. The glasses need to stay on your head during a commotion and they need to wrap tightly enough to keep “spent brass” (bullet casings) and “bio projectile” (rioter spit) out of your eyes. Extreme durability is a given, and they shouldn’t fog up. Plus 5.11 wanted the glasses to look good enough for everyday wear. To continue our research we did some competitive benchmarking to see what products were already available. We checked out some top brands in different price ranges and rated the style, performance, and features of each. Some elements like the material of the frames and polarized lenses emerged as key factors in perceived value.
A View to a Killer Look
Next we looked into how the three different models could tie into 5.11’s brand aesthetic. These were going to be global products, so we needed to appeal to more than just American tough guy sensibilities (no flexing eagles, bro). We met with the client’s clothing, bag, and knife designers to get a sense of the choices they make to drive the brand. We surveyed 5.11’s other products as well and began sketching some variations of different components to flesh out details and get specific input from the brand managers. As clear paths started to emerge we began incorporating findings from our human factors and ergonomic research to keep the forms grounded in reality.
As we zeroed in on solid concepts for the three different models, it was time to move into 3D. CAD models were made and then sent to the 3D printer. There were a number of iterations: building, testing, tweaking a mm here, a mm there, getting all of the curves and touch points just so. Eventually we reached a point where it was time for the pros to weigh in. 5.11 assembled a real-life Justice League to put our prototypes through their paces. International soldiers, firefighters, cops, special operations guys--pretty much everyone from the Swiss version of a SEAL to the Chinese version of SWAT—were called in to meet in Hong Kong and give us feedback on our glasses. (We have never felt simultaneously so intimidated and so safe as we did hanging out with those dudes.) The Justice League provided some good final feedback both on function and branding. After we returned to Objex HQ we were able to implement their suggestions and hand the final CAD off to manufacturing.
As usual we worked with the manufacturer to iron out production details. We consulted on overmolding and soft-touch implementation. We specified hardware, and we made sure our process for swapping lenses was maintained. The final product hit the mark. 5.11 was able to extend their tactical gear dominance into the realm of eyewear, where they still enjoy a high level of success. We are always happy to see our client pleased, but the biggest compliment of all was seeing Jeff Gonzales himself don his pair of Objex-designed glasses and flash a rare smile.