The classic Ray-Ban shades. With the mere mention of that, your mind instantly plays an image of Wayfarers adorning everyone you ever thought was cool. from Don Johnson in Miami Vice to Tom Cruise in Risky business. The year that movie came out 360,000 pairs of Wayfarers sold, a testament to their huge popularity.
Bausch & Lomb first created the aviator style of sunglasses in 1936, with that the Ray-Ban company was founded a year later. On May 7 of 1937 Bausch & Lomb took out a patent, and the Aviator became available to the public for the first time. They were originally introduced for the United States Army Air Corps to protect the soldiers’ eyes from harmful light while maintaining a fashionable look. The Ray-Ban Aviator became a well-known when photos of General MacArthur showed him wearing them during World War II .
Wayfarers have been manufactured by Ray-Ban since 1956. Their design was a revolutionary break from the metal frames common at that time. They were designed in 1952 by Raymond Stegeman, they took advantage of revolutionary new plastic molding technology. Considered a radical new shape, they became an instant classic. Wayfarers were hugely popular in the 50s and 60s, thanks in large part to their pop-culture endorsements. Stars such as Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe were seen wearing them, Audrey Hepburn wore a pair in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Other notable personalities such as James Dean, Bob Dylan, John F. Kennedy, and John Lennon wore Wayfarers on television and in movies.
After a heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s, sales declined and Wayfarers were on nearly discontinued. Wayfarers’ popularity was boosted again in 1980, they were prominently featured by The Blues Brothers on SNL and in their film of the same name. This began the greatest surge in popularity of the design since its inception. From 1982 to 87, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and hundreds of televisions shows. Hugly popular on the music scene they were worn by the likes of Roy Orbison, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Debbie Harry, Madonna, and Elvis Costello, among others. Ray-bans can even be found in song, Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer”, contained the lyric “You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby”, and in Corey Hart’s music video he wore his wayfarer “Sunglasses at night”. These glasses were the 1980’s defining shades.
Wayfarers and Ray-Ban Aviators are the 2 best selling designs of sunglasses in history. They are classics of modern design, one of the most enduring fashion icons of the 20th century. They are again gaining in popularity, and since 2007 the originals have been available from Ray Ban. With their vintage design and allure, they won’t be going out of style, and wearing them will always be swell.
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