Ray-Ban: A Pop Icon for Many Generations

by Karmaloop Rep Code

For generations, Ray-Ban has been the undisputed world leader in fashion sunglasses and prescription eyewear. From the Aviator to the Wayfarer, Ray-Ban signature pairs have become icons of pop culture, worn by countless celebrities and trendsetters all over the world.

Brand history

Bausch & Lomb created the first Ray-Bans in 1937. After American test pilot John Macready had complained of eye damage from the sun after a balloon flight, Bausch & Lomb made the world’s first anti-glare sunglasses with green lenses crafted out of mineral glass to filter out infrared and ultraviolet rays. On May 7, 1937, Bausch & Lomb took out the patent and the Aviator was born.

In 1952, Ray-Ban created another style – the Wayfarer – using plastic frames. These sunglasses became very popular with movie stars and musicians.

By 1962, Ray-Ban started to create impact-resistant lenses. It was not until 10 years later when the US made impact-resistant eyewear mandatory through the FDA regulation.

In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold the brand to the Italian Luxottica Group for a reported $640 million.

Ray-Ban Aviator

Aviator sunglasses are characterized by dark, reflective lenses covering two or three times the area of the eyeball, and very thin metal frames with double or triple bridge and flexible cable temples that hook behind the ears.

The original design featured G-15 tempered glass lenses transmitting 20% of incoming light. The large lenses are not flat but slightly convex. The design attempts to cover the entire range of the human eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering the eye from any angle.

Originally developed for Air Corps and Army pilots to protect their eyes while flying, the Aviator became a well-known style of sunglasses when General Douglas MacArthur was photographed wearing them in a historic landing on a beach in the Philippines during World War II.

The aviator style became even more popular following pop culture references of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Freddie Mercury. Sales rose 40% within seven months of the release of the movie “Top Gun”, where Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Edwards sported Aviators. Ray Bans were also prominently featured in the films “Cobra” and “To Live and Die in L.A.” – where two main characters are seen wearing Aviators throughout the film. In the 1990s, popularity waned but eventually resurfaced in the early 2000s when comedian daredevil Johnny Knoxville wore Aviators on the MTV series “Jackass”.

Ray-Ban Wayfarer

Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses marked the transition from metal eyewear of the past to the new era of plastic eyewear. Created by American optical designer Raymond Stegeman, the Wayfarer came in a radically new shape – trapezoidal frames with sturdy masculine arms.

The Wayfarers were very popular in the ’50s and ’60s. After a period of sales decline, their cultural popularity was boosted in 1980, particularly due to classic film “The Blues Brothers”.

In 1982 Ray-Ban signed a $50,000-a-year deal to place Ray-Bans in movies and television shows. Between 1982 and 1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and television shows every year.

Tom Cruise wore Wayfarers in the 1983 hit “Risky Business”, marking the beginning of a Wayfarers phenomenon. By 1986, after appearances in “Miami Vice”, “Moonlighting”, and “The Breakfast Club”, sales had reached 1.5 million.

Wayfarers also took the music world by storm, gracing the faces of Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Madonna, Elvis Costello, and the U2 band.

Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer offerings expanded from two models in 1981 to more than 40 by 1989, and Wayfarers were the decade’s sunglasses of choice.

Wayfarers were brought back into fashion in the late 2000s when celebrities such as Chloë Sevigny and Mary-Kate Olsen began wearing vintage frames. The 2008 film “Twilight” features vampire Edward Cullen sporting a pair of black Wayfarers at school. Wayfarers were also seen in Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” music video and “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars.

As of October 2007, the Wayfarer was the Luxottica Group’s third-best-selling style.

Ray-Ban made a number of models that looked similar to the Wayfarer style, such as the Myth and the Meteor. Celebrities who have worn Wayfarer-like shades include Audrey Hepburn, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Scott Weiland, Andy Warhol, and Don Johnson.

Aviators and Wayfarers have been cited as the best-selling designs of sunglasses in history. A classic of modern design, they are one of the most enduring fashion icons of the 20th century.

Ray-Ban at Karmaloop.com

Karmaloop is bringing cool back with its stylish collection of Ray-Ban Aviators and Wayfarers in updated styles and colors. Emma, Jackie Ohh, Caribbean, Cats, RB4154, and Clubmaster models are also available. Click Here to get discounts when purchasing the product.

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