by Donia Moore
If Will Howard does the sport, Dragon Alliance makes the eyewear to cover it.
Surf, Turf and Moguls
Look through the clear lens of Dragon Alliance and you’ll discover that the grass roots dedication of the company’s owner Will Howard and his innovative team is the perfect formula for the success of their eyewear. The employees don’t just create the sunglasses and goggles that they are known for. They use them regularly in the sports that they are intended for. When they aren’t out using them, they are touching base with their local and international clientele, continuously seeking to improve their products as feedback verdicts come in from all over the world.
From a small family business created in a Capo Beach garage in 1993, Dragon Alliance has grown to a multi-million dollar corporation. Today their H2O Floatable Collection of floating sunglasses is one of their most popular products, and they have expanded their line to include high quality snow goggles as well.
Known and used internationally by outdoor extreme sports athletes, Dragon’s eyewear can be found in the kits of original snow team rider Jamie Lynn, along with their first surf team rider, Shane Dorian, still on the team roster today. With top-tier product and athletes in mind, their roster has grown to include some of the best surfers, snowboarders, moto- riders, and wake-boarders in the world.
Recently, Dragon Alliance reached out to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to form another innovative partnership. They signed on the dotted line with Crown Sports United (Crown Sports) for USSA events. As part of the deal, Dragon will serve as an eyewear partner for the USSA and will have a strong activation presence at several USSA events, notably the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain and Park City Mountain Resort and the USANA International Cross Cup at Squaw Valley.
Dragon Alliance roots run deep in San Clemente. Will moved to town with his parents and attended San Clemente schools. He met his high school sweetheart at San Clemente High School. Lisa later became his wife and life partner. About three years after Dragon Alliance’s inception, the company grew so fast that they needed more space. They found it in Carlsbad but the plan was always to move back to Will’s hometown where the major surf scene was. In 1996, they finally returned their headquarters to San Clemente.
Along the way, Dragon came up with some truly innovative eyewear products. Their lenses are made of quality materials that offer high clarity, while also being lightweight and durable. Non-polarized lenses offer 100% UV protection, but their new Performance Polarized lenses take it a few steps further.
Optimal Optic Technology
Performance Polar is Dragon’s most advanced and durable form of polarized lenses; it is the standard for all their polarized sunglasses. With the hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings, lenses are resistant to water, dirt, and oil and eliminate 99.9% of surface glare. Performance Polar lenses are offered in contrast enhancing lens tints so their clients can enjoy the quality of this superior technology in a variety of colors.
In the winter of 2011, Dragon introduced the first-ever frameless snow goggle. This goggle has revolutionized the snow market and is now one of the most sought after of their styles. Along with that, their latest sunglasses have shown design innovation and a unique styling like the JAM, Domo, and Viceroy. Rider-inspired design and feedback has always been key and one of the important philosophies of the brand in creating new products.
Something that clients often ask about using is their own prescription lenses in their sunglasses. According to Rick Irons, Brand Manager, the answer for the Dragon Alliance Collection is a resounding yes.
“Most of our sun wear is compatible for prescription lenses. The only exception will be any styles with our shield lens: Remix, Hex, Mansfield, DS1, DS2, and Domo. Also anything from our H2O Floatable Collection as prescription lenses might cause them to sink.”
Sink? Yes, these sunglasses float.
San Clemente’s Business of the Year
Recently, Dragon Alliance was voted Business of the Year by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. Company founder Will Howard said the move back to town was a natural fit for the company.
“This is our home space, we love this community,” Howard said. “Many of our staff live here. It’s a great place to run a business, especially one connected to the surf community.”
Will and his company have jumped into the local surf scene with all ten toes on the nose. The San Clemente High School Surf Team, Surfrider Foundation, and the Surf Industry Coastal Commission have all benefited from their donations. They have been the presenting sponsor for the Chamber-hosted San Clemente Surf Classic, a grommet contest that added a new spark to the local surf culture and industry partnerships. They have contributed to a Marine Corps surf contest and to events honoring San Clemente’s adopted units at Camp Pendleton. For the last couple of years, they have sponsored the San Clemente T-Street Surf Competition for local kids.