For people a little bit older than I am -- and I'm pressing 40 -- the brand Revo invokes a certain image of cool.
Revo became popular in the 1980s and '90s for offering sunglasses with the the right mix of modern style and performance characteristics that made them a must-have for active people. From professional athletes to movie stars to other high-profile people of that era, Revo was a trusted brand.
The story behind the Revo lens, though, leans heavy into science. Dr. Mitch Ruda, an optical engineer, was working on a project for NASA when he realized our eyes could value from lenses that had the same coatings that protect satellites to shield them from radiation. It was a simple, yet innovative, concept that created the iconic blue lens that was a hallmark calling card of the brand.
Like many brands, the Revo story began to resonate less. The brand was owned and arguably mishandled by Ray-Ban and Luxottica. By 2019, the Revo name had been tainted. That created an opportunity for now 51-year-old Cliff Robinson. Back in 2019, he decided to purchase the brand. His family's brand, B. Robinson, has been in the eyewear business for 90 years, but Robinson felt a personal connection to the Revo brand.
Robinson knew he had to modernize the brand and its offerings, catching back up to the Revo diehards and the lives they were now living. That meant offering products for outdoorsy people who were into skiing, water sports, tennis and, yes, golf. It also meant reminding people who loved and still love Revo that the core DNA of the product was still best-in-class performance.
Under Robinson's direction, the new Revo started from scratch and redesigned their frames and built new sport- and activity-specific lenses. For golf, Robinson's goal was to make lenses that made the ball pop and brought out the best in the greens, browns and reds that are part of the experience of the game. The Revo Drive lens -- one of nine the company now offers -- brings minute details into focus with clear contrasts, dulling the shine of the sun's rays off the ground and other areas of the course. As Robinson called them, they're like a "stereo equalizer" for your eyes on the course.
However, Robinson was quick to note that several of the company's other lenses can work great for golfers depending on how sensitive their eyes are to certain conditions. Personally, I had an acanthamoeba infection in my left eye 15 years ago that makes wearing sunglasses a must in most outdoor settings. Robinson suggested, then, that the Evergreen lens might be for me. It is designed to cancel surface glare and make greens really pop. He even went out of his way to send me a separate pair from the Drive lens pair I already had to see if that would work better for me. It's because he's as passionate about the brand and performance eyewear as the audience he's looking to meet -- folks who are active and have a little bit of extra money to purchase use case-specific eyewear.
Turns out, Robinson was right. The Evergreen lenses are perfect for me. In fact, they're what I wear the overwhelming majority of the time -- whether I'm playing golf, taking a walk with the dog or coaching sports. They take out all the glare from sunshine and allow me to focus on what I'm seeing without distraction. Some lenses eliminate glare, but at the same time they also diminish the incredible views golfers get to experience. Not these. And with a wide variety of frames available, I was able to find the Crux X, a modern tortoise-shell panoramic frame that is sturdy, doesn't fog and doesn't budge, allowing me enjoy golf without thinking about it.
The Drive lens is a great option as well, and it really does make the colors of the golf course pop. That's particularly helpful in trying to read greens and feel like you have a clear view of the golf course. For most people, the Drive would be the best option.
Golfers are starting to connect -- or re-connect -- with Revo. Robinson said golf-related sales have been up 50 percent year over year, and they have aspirations of reaching 500 pro shops around the country. They want to be where their audience is, but with online sales up 40 percent since the start of the pandemic, all channels are performing well. The brand has started offering prescription sunglasses as well, offering yet another way to reach what Robinson sees as a coveted, passionate audience.
Ultimately, Robinson said, he wants the Revo brand to not be known as a nostalgic brand. He wants Revo to be known as producing best-in-class lenses and frames for active people. While he may have taken over the brand because of his love for the way it was, he hopes his iteration of Revo will be coveted for keeping up with how we live now.