When you are thinking of sunglasses, chances are you’re picturing one of the iconic Ray-Ban glasses. Ray-Ban is a popular sunglass and spectacle brand founded in 1937 by the American company called Bausch and Lomb. Like many popular brands, Ray-Ban got its footing in the military world in late 1930’s which later pioneered the whole world in terms of the eye wear industry. So, here is your guide to Ray Ban glasses.
Ray-Ban sunglasses are famous for their dark and reflective lenses having an area twice the size of the eyeball, with a very thin metal frame, a double or a triple bridge, and bayonet earpieces that hook right behind the ears. The original design featured G-15 tempered glass lenses which was capable of transmitting 15% of incoming light. The unique design of Ray-Ban glasses attempts to cover the entire human eye and prevent as much light as possible from getting into the eye.
History of Ray Ban Glasses
When airplanes first became public and allowed the mass population to fly higher and farther, a lot of US Air Force Pilots were reporting that glare from the sun was giving them a headache. A new glass with a green lens took the aviation industry by storm to combat the intense blues and whites of the sky without obscuring vision. That is how the Ray-Ban G-15 was born. These lenses were put into a plastic frame and went on sale to the public in 1937. It was not too long before the popularity of Ray-Ban spread from the pilots to the public. In the following year, the sunglasses were remodeled with a metal frame and rebranded as Ray-Ban Aviator.
Military influence on fashion was and is still undeniable. Since the Air Force Pilots started relying on Ray-Ban glasses, civilians eagerly emulated pilot sported cool sunglasses. Ray-Ban was popular on pop culture fashion around the 1940’s.
Hollywood and Ray-Ban
Later in the 1950’s, Ray-Ban was featured with Hollywood legends like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn on the big screen. That was when Ray-Ban became one of the most recognizable fashion accessories in the US and soon the world. While Ray-Ban was continuing to evolve, it introduced Ray-Ban Signet in 1953 which featured eye catching gold or silver frames with horizontal bands. In the 1960s it was the time for revolution, Ray-Ban extended its catalog including styles for men, women, and children. Due to its versatility, it became the leading eyewear around the world with its quality and style. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s Ray-Ban Wayfarers were the only choice for everyone from stars like Andy Warhol, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe to countless teenagers who wanted to look like the stars.
In the 1970’s, Ray-Ban eagerly introduced disco inspired sunglasses, but those did not succeed. However, revival was just around the corner. In the 1980’s Ray-Ban sold roughly 18,000 pairs of disco inspired sunglasses. This was also a paltry sale for the brand which was on top of the market.
When Ray Ban Made a Splash
But all this changed in 1982 when Ray-Ban officially signed a $50,000 contract to place Ray-Ban in the big screen. From 1982 to 1987, Ray-Ban placed their products in more than 60 television shoes and movies. The investment paid off for Ray-Ban when Tom Cruise got dressed up in the Ray-Ban classic Wayfarer in 1983 for Top Gun. Hollywood was not only the place where Ray-Ban had its root. In the 1980’s, Ray-Ban Wayfarers could be seen on everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna to Jack Nicholson. As the Ray-Ban frame line has continued to grow some competitor designers and manufacturers have appeared. They tried to rush out their versions of Wayfarer and the classic Aviator. They haven’t overtaken the original as of yet, but time will tell.
However, Ray-Ban experienced little fluctuation in their sales due to its competitors having design flaws. In the 1990’s Ray-Ban struggled to keep up its heritage amongst American culture. Italian eyewear conglomerate, Luxottica Group bought Ray-Ban in 1999 for a reported US $640 Million. Since then Ray-Ban was again back on track and accelerated its production which makes it a zombie brand for its ability to bounce back to life.
Future of Ray-Ban
Ray-Ban partnered with Google in March of 2014 to collaborate in developing Google Smart Glass. It looked like a normal glass but carries out many functions of a laptop or mobile device. Although it was a new fleet in technology, the device had somewhat troubled history. One of the main troubles was with privacy, the general population didn’t like that the wearer could take photos or videos of anyone without their permission. Also, there have been lots of opinions on the physical and social effects of the device on people being constantly hooked up the internet.
Sooner or later Ray-Ban will need to integrate with technology to keep up its monopoly on sunglasses and frames. While the fate of Ray Ban is still unknown, some reports suggest that Facebook and Ray-Ban are collectively designing smart glasses. Talks say they would be released in 2021 branded as the Ray-Ban Smart. It is not clear what features the device will have currently. However, Facebook has stated that the device will not have artificial intelligence and will not have integrated displays of any kind. Unlike Google Glass, Facebook will definitely introduce new ideas to overcome the privacy hurdle.
Conclusion for the Historical Guide
Ever since its invention, it has been all about aspiration. Its original concept of airmen sunglasses added by celebrity endorsements, Ray-Ban has been able to mark itself as a brand that everyone wants to be seen wearing. Ray-Ban Wayfarer, Aviator, and Clubmaster are as popular today as ever. The World of Ray-Ban has occupied a sacred place in American history. After all, we have seen presidents, movie stars, rock stars, artists, military officers, and beach goers wearing Ray-Ban.
This is a reason why Ray-Ban is the most ubiquitous frame brand that started in the USA. It started its journey as a military eyewear and later pioneered much of what we consider sunglasses to be today. Most of their iconic stylish frames from the early Ray-Ban designs remain virtually unchanged for last 5 decades. However, a recent sale to Italian Conglomerate Luxottica has taken some of the heritage out. This sale has bumped the price of Ray-Ban. However, it still remains as a classical and quality option for sunglasses and prescription glasses. Ray-Ban’s brand has every intention of maintaining its standard by having a forward looking approach and continuing to deliver iconic sunglasses that look more classical and provide unrivaled American history.