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Racing with Red Bull

There’s no doubt that around the world, the brand ‘Red Bull’ has become synonymous with extreme sports. Having begun its life as an energy drink that “gives you wings”, the brand is now associated with Formula One race car driving, professional football, freestyle motocross, air racing, and cliff diving… in fact pretty much any sports associated with high adrenalin, extreme speed and danger. Now Red Bull has ventured into eyewear.

Guerilla marketing first put those high energy cans into the hands of Red Bull’s initial target market – 18 to 34 year old males – while tactical stunt marketing has been used to broaden the audience ever since.

On the 14 October last year, Red Bull sponsored Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to jump from a height of 39,045 metres into the stratosphere over New Mexico. Red Bull’s logo was plastered all over the capsule and Baumgartner’s space suit. The ‘Red Bull Stratos’ space jump was complemented by the Red Bull Air Force, which completed Leap Year Base jumps in four cities of the United States – simultaneously! All of the extreme athletes engaged for these stunts were in their 40s, confirming Red Bull’s desire to engage with a more mature target audience.

Meanwhile, on the ground, since 2005 Red Bull has been busy becoming a force in Formula One racing – again by investing in the elite of extreme sports identities. In the case of racing-car drivers, the company chose Austrian Sebastian Vettel and Australia’s own Mark Webber. Webber has been a lead driver on the team for six seasons now, during which time he’s helped take Red Bull Racing from seventh position to world championship status.

Formula One racing provides endless inspiration when it comes to designing new collections

Red Bull Racing Eyewear

When constructing a race car, maximising speed is a major consideration. And so, to achieve the greatest output, cars are optimised down to the smallest detail.

For Red Bull, constructing eyewear is no different – the better the design and construction, the greater the success.

And so, just like the Renault RB8 race car that Webber drives, Red Bull Racing eyewear is designed to precision and manufactured from the lightest, most resilient materials to maximise performance under extreme pressure.

In fact, the company’s three eyewear designers, Dieter Stromayer, Bernhard Schwarzbauer and Michaela Gimpl, are directly influenced by specific attributes of the race car’s construction.

For example, at the centre of every racing car is the driver’s survival cell – the monocoque. The surface structure is of primary consideration in the design process, followed by the material details – a composite made from lightweight carbon fibre metals.

In fact, carbon fibre layers make up the majority of the materials used to construct a Formula One vehicle, although some elements of the car body are made using fibreglass-reinforced plastics. Then there’s the razor thin, but super strong wheel suspension that connects the tyres to the entire car body.

Similarly, every aspect of the Red Bull Racing eyewear frame is carefully engineered for minimum weight and bulk while achieving maximum strength.

“When manufacturing Red Bull Racing sunglasses we always try to connect with the materials used in manufacturing Red Bull Racing cars: so we use carbon, NXT, light injection materials, titanium, rubber and so on,” said Schwarzbauer.

“At the moment we have in our collection unique 100 per cent carbon fibre sunglasses and frames. They’re made in Italy from six very thin layers of carbon fibre. By maintaining a thickness of just 1.5mm, we can produce sunglasses, with lenses fitted that weigh just 14–18 grams. This is tremendously light for sunglasses.”

Strength in Grilamid

Innovative strength is also the dogma behind sports glasses, which is why the design team chose to manufacture its Sports Collection from the advanced injection material, TR90 grilamid.

TR90 grilamid is an extremely elastic and strong material. It consists of a blend of different plastic granulates and is particularly resistant to chemicals and stress cracking.

“We combine TR90 with dermatologically well tolerated rubber lining in the contact areas around the nose and ears to produce tough sports glasses that fit snugly and securely,” said Schwarzbauer.

It’s a complex technical process that sees TR90 grilamid injected together with the rubber at the temple tip into a single piece (a so-called double-injection process).

Optical Collection

Within the Red Bull Racing eyewear collection is an optical range, which is also significantly influenced by car racing technology.

“Our optical range is new to the market and is mainly manufactured from carbon fibre, stainless steel, acetate material, TR90, titanium and beta titanium. We will complete the first collection this year,” said Gimpl.

“Although we use the same materials across both the sun and optical collections, the optical collection differs, of course, in shape, size, and form – to correspond with the needs of the optical world.”

Gimpl says Formula One racing provides endless inspiration when it comes to designing new collections.

“Design ideas coming from the Red Bull Racing Formula One world, as well as the technical innovations and new materials we’ve mentioned – they all provide a huge field of stories and ideas,” she said.

“But whatever we do, we always follow the Red Bull brand rules of technical innovation, lightness and zeitgeist (the spirit of the current time).”

Finessing Designs

As creative directors, the trio works closely with the product team to finesse their designs by evolving the fit, materials, and technicalities.

“Our designers work on sketches, then we start with technical drawings, 3D-files, renderings, prototypes and testing. Once we’ve confirmed prototypes, we start the industrialisation process with colour selection and detailed adjustment.”

All of this is done at the Michael Pachleitner (MP) Group headquarters in Graz, Austria where eyewear is also designed, manufactured and distributed under licence on behalf of 14 companies and more than 70 trading partners.

It was Michael Pachleitner himself who conceived the idea of extending the Red Bull Racing brand to eyewear. As CEO of the MP Group, his aim was to create a new eyewear brand according to the guidelines of Red Bull Racing that reflected all that Red Bull stands for in the fields of sports, adventure and competition.

By all accounts, Red Bull Racing saw merit in the concept – 12 months later, in January 2012, the MP Group was granted the licensing rights to design and sell eyewear on the international market under the brand Red Bull Racing Eyewear.

It’s been a fast ride – already Red Bull eyewear has both sports and fashion sunglass collections as well as its new collection of optical frames on the market with more to follow. It all comes down to imagination and inspiration of which there is plenty in Red Bull Racing… and as designer Bernhard Schwarzbauer says, “The limits of your imagination are the limits of your world.” In Australia, Opticare is the exclusive distributor of
Red Bull Racing Eyewear.

For more information, contact Opticare on (AUS) 02 9748 8777.