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by Tackle Trade World | Feb 24, 2015
tackle_trade_world_feb15_01Sunglasses and eyewear specialist Wiley X is a brand on the move, both in the USA and Europe.


Thomas Weaver European vice president and outdoor director of Wiley X Europe

Sunglasses and eyewear specialist Wiley X is a brand on the move, both in the USA and Europe. TTW speaks to Wiley X Europe’s Thomas Weaver on how the brand is learning from and working with the best of the best, and why 2015 will be its biggest year yet.

Wiley X Europe LLC was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary to Wiley X Inc, which is based in Livermore, California in the USA. The story behind how Wiley X Europe was established, at least according to European vice president Thomas Wæver, is a true story of why you should never give up and to keep fighting for what you believe in. Following your dream is what this company was born from.

“Jan Mikkelsen (the president and co-owner of Wiley X Europe) was, back in 2003, a tank commander in the Danish army,” explains Thomas.

“After leaving the army in late 2003, Jan started his own company, Wildman, supplying military gear to the tactical market in Denmark. He wanted to pursue a lifelong dream of being able to create his own business and see it grow. In 2004, Wildman won a major tender by delivering Wiley X Eyewear to the Danish army.

“After a few years with great success with Wildman – Wiley X Inc bought the company and formed Wiley X Europe LLC. And the rest, as they say, is history…”

The last 12 months have been very hectic for Wiley X Europe. Across all four of its divisions – tactical, commercial, license/ motorsports and outdoor – the company has experienced significant growth.

“In the outdoor division in particular, we have had a phenomenal year, setting up distributors all across Europe for markets like fishing, hunting/shooting and outdoor in general,” says Thomas.

This claim is quantified further by the fact that, going into 2015, Wiley X has the biggest polarizing sunglasses product launch in its history with 17 new models, which will bring the total for 2015 up to 36 for the US market and 39 in Europe. Among many new and exciting launches this year are the amber lens with a Venice Gold Mirror as well as polarized yellow – aimed at providing great clarity in low-light situations.

Additions like this are part of a wider scheme of thinking with the company that is helping it strive to offer something of unrivalled quality.

“I have learnt in my many years in the business to only work with and to learn from the best of the best,” says Thomas.

“In different markets throughout Europe where every market is special, one thing is common. If you find your match in the market you are more than halfway to a success. For Wiley X it is very important to learn and understand not only the distributor we are working with, but just as importantly to understand their market and how we will be able to become a success in their market.

“We have a saying in the Wiley X European HQ – we as a company will never be a success before our distributors are successful selling Wiley X products. In order to be a success from day one, I know how important it is for our distributors to know the key factors of our products, as Wiley X is so much more than just sunglasses. It is important for me to product train all in the company (distributor) from the CEO down.

“Understanding the heritage of Wiley X, where we came from and where we are going is essential for all. This allows us to provide all our distributors with the feeling that they are a part of the Wiley X family and we are in it for the long run and not just to close the opening order.”

The sunglasses and eyewear market is undoubtedly a competitive one within fishing, but Wiley X has a range of unique selling points, alongside the business ethos outlined by Thomas, that it believes will help push the brand forward.

Wiley X is the only premium brand in the world that certifies all products as protective eyewear. It also holds the patent for the Removable Gasket System (Facial Cavity Seal™) featured in the Climate Control models. Nearly all Wiley X models can be delivered as customized prescription eyewear if needed, allowing those who need prescription lenses to leave the old-style cocoons back home. Wiley X FILTER 8™ polarizing lenses combine eight layers of lens technology. As a part of this technology the polarizing filter itself is well protected in between two layers of Selenite™ polycarbonate lenses, which prevent it from being damaged when cleaning.

And what about the future? There is much, much more to come, as Thomas concludes: “The short-term goal for Wiley X Europe is to continue setting up distributors and key chains for our unique products.

“In the long-term, the goal is to grow Wiley X as a global brand and to keep pushing out great products, staying true to our philosophy and passion for making outstanding eyewear.”

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