The Line Break: Dragon unveils new XP Collection

San Clemente, California-based Dragon has launched its new XP Cross Performance Collection, which features the brand’s newly engineered Adaptive Technology. The technology includes interchangeable temples to adjust to various conditions, and Dragon’s Performance Lens technology which offers six times more impact resistance, highest quality of polar, and coatings to help protect against the elements. Dragon has also graced the XP collection with its floatable frames—a signature feature for which the brand has received glowing recognition, most recently from SIMA as Accessory Product of the Year.

“Finally you can wear one pair of shades for everything and adapt instantly on land, water, and snow,” explains Rick Irons, Dragon global brand manager. “At the highest level of performance, people's gear matters. So we wanted to do that with eyewear, and do it in a way that is cool and unique to Dragon while still being core to our roots and everything we have done in the past. This has been an opportunity to expand our optical while growing and maturing as a brand.”

The main frames under the XP umbrella are the Seafarer and the WatermanX, geared primarily toward water sports, the Mountaineer, and the Enduro.  We caught up with Mike Tobia, director of product, to hear more about what this collection, which recently hit retail, is all about.

Dragon-XP-Seafarer_MantleHow did you come up with the XP Collection, and what are its main advantages?

We realized that a lot of the brands are going very fashion-forward, with a kind of hipster-type vibe. For Dragon, we are more of a performance brand. We want to do performance in a way that is true to us and cool, not over the top. We wanted to craft a performance line that is made for the different elements because we have our team riders out there doing awesome stuff in all these different elements. If there is anything innovative and new that we are doing for eyewear right now, this is it.

We really tried to make it around land, water, and snow. If you are a water guy, we wanted to make something that would work whether you are surfing, SUP, kayaking, deep-sea fishing or fly fishing. We have a sunglass frame that is all about water. So the story of that is now you have a good looking product packed with innovation. You have a floatable frame, what we call the Performance lens. All the lens tints are specific for water. To build off that, we've designed these lenses to withstand your adventures all while incorporating polarized performance. Another innovation is our removable temples. You press a button, the temple comes out, so you can interchange it. We have a leash system that can go on there, as well. If you are paddling or doing an activity where you need to have your glasses not fall off, they will now stay strapped on your head all day. If you don't want that, snap it off and you have your normal temples. It gives you an ability to dress it up or dress it down. The glasses come with the full assortment of attachments.

For snow, these sunglasses are fully dressed up for high-altitude Mountaineering. It is a category four lens. The higher altitude you go, the more exposed you are to UV rays, so this lens is built for that. You could be shredding Mammoth Mountain or touring the backcountry— this lens will adapt. You can also be on the streets wearing these. You can now have a super basic pair of sunglasses when you are in the parking lot and then when it is time to climb the mountain you have all the functionality to enhance the glasses for performance. These glasses have over 6 times the amount of impact resistance than normal sunglasses, and are truly made for performance at the highest level. A lot of the snow community has gotten into the outdoor market, so these customers are also now mountain biking, climbing, fishing, kayaking, etc.

Dragon unveils new XP Collection

Mikey Weir, sporting the new Dragon SeafarerX sunglasses.

How do you see this interacting within the grand scheme and strategy of the brand? How do you balance this with other products?

Our floatables are doing really well with our core retailers right now. I think these Cross Performance glasses can go to a segment of our core retailers. Any stores that also cater to stand up paddlers, mountain bikers, and fisherman who come through their doors. I think that a good percentage of our account base can carry this line right now. We are just trying to make better products as well. It opens up and gives us an opportunity for broader distribution and to reach a wider audience throughout the world. Having 20 years in the game and being very confident in our authenticity, we feel like we can do that and still stay true to our roots. It is a challenge but we feel like we have the right formula. We've realized that technical innovation, premium quality, and performance-driven pieces are where the brand resonates the most.

Is the price point for this collection a little more expensive?

We are going higher because a lot of it is polar. The entry point is $180 but you are basically getting two sunglasses in one, and they are more packed with features than your normal sunglasses. These are not just for posing. They are for someone who actually lives the lifestyle. You wouldn't buy them if you aren't going to go surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, fishing, etc.

How will your marketing strategy differ for the XP Collection, versus the core product line? 

We are getting product into the hands of people who actually do these things, with the hope it will go viral with real life people influencing others that are influential in the sports. We don't have the same background in fishing as we do in surf. We really want to get the product into core people's hands to have them try it and get the word out about how well it works. Then use that as our foundation to go to the next level with PR, social media, and advertising. We will have a nice in-store presentation. The product really speaks for itself and sells itself. We are also spending a lot of time on high-end visuals like RED cam, drone shots, GoPro footage. Really authentic, core content. When you see it, you will be wowed. It won't just be product placement while a guy is riding. We really spent a lot of time giving you the experience of being a part of it. We will let that do the talking.

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