When the owner of Lx Polarized Optics started making sunglasses, it wasn’t his intention to market toward first responders. In fact, working out of Southern California, Steve Brillhart’s original audience was surfers.
But when the firefighters of Long Beach caught wind of his product, they couldn’t get enough of it, with the glasses seemingly a perfect fit for public safety members.
Lx Polarized Optics frames are made of acetate, a textile fiber made in sheets, that allows the frames to be stronger, more flexible, glossier, and more durable than glasses made from an injection mold.
Lx Polarized Optics offers sunglasses in a variety of styles. (Image courtesy of Lxpolarized.com)
Everyone is making some form of tactical eyewear these days. My visit to the corporate headquarters of WileyX confirmed that they are truly unique in the industry.
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The polarized lenses — literally film licensed out by Polaroid — filter out the glare caused by the sun, water and reflective surfaces, reducing the strain on one’s eyes caused by constant squinting.
Unlike most sunglasses that have the polarized film on the outside where it can weather, these sunglasses have a film in between two thin lenses in order to keep the film from degrading over time.
Brillhart considers his style of glasses a "cross between sport and fashion." They don’t offer blade-like lenses similar to cyclist’s glasses, and a stand-out logo is the last of his priorities.
"Police wear glasses all day. That’s our niche — guys with jobs who want a good pair of sunglasses. If you’re looking for Gucci, then you’re not in the right place," Brillhart said.
Above all, the glasses have to fit. Lx Polarized Optics glasses feature a wider nose bridge, so that they ride low, fit well and don’t pinch. Every pair has spring hinges, so they’re even less likely to break.
The second priority, according to Brillhart, is a reasonable price. Similar glasses made by companies like Oakley run for about $300. Lx’s polycarbonate glasses start at just $80, shipping included, and glass lenses start at $100-110.
“I’m interested in giving people a break. I offer discounts to first responders because they’re the ones who really need them,” Brillhart said.
Brillhart said he’s able to offer such deals for a few reasons. First, the company spends little money on marketing as the majority of his sales are due to word-of-mouth from satisfied customers. Second, there is no overhead. There are two men behind the glasses: the manufacturer, who makes the frames in Osaka, Japan, and Brillhart, the creator.
"The Long Beach Fire Department was a great market," said Brillhart. "The problem is, they don't order more because the glasses never break! "