Monday, September 14, 2009

Ray Ban

After suffering permanent damage to his eyes, Lieutenant John MaCready contacted Bausch & Lomb about creating sunglasses designed to provided the best protection from the suns rays while still being styled for daily wear. The first design came out in 1937, with a sleek, lightweight metal frame and large conical lenses that would block both infrared and ultraviolet rays. This first design named the anti-glare was quickly renamed the Ray-Ban for its ability to block harmful rays. They were soon picked up by pilots in the Air Corps, and became immensely popular when pictures of of General Douglas MacArthur wearing Ray-Bans during the invasion if the Philippines in WWII. Ray-Ban sponsored Amelia Earhart in her famous trans Atlantic flight marketed as a symbol of adventure and reliability.
Released in 1937 the Aviator is a permanent Classic

In 1952 Ray Ban released an all plastic framed pair of sunglasses, the Wayfarer. The wayfarer was an immediate hit but became an unbelievable success after they were donned by Audrey Hepburn for her performance in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. The wayfarer moved away from previous models utilitarian attributes and allowed the user to have stylistic options with their sunglasses. The wayfarer was designed by Raymond Stegman as a shape to match the eras style, such as the Eames chair. Despite being advertised almost entirely to men, even claiming to give the wearer a more masculine look, they were adopted by numerous Hollywood actresses, most notably Marlin Monroe and Kim Novak.

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a
pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

Sales hit a hard slump in the 70's although a strong move at heavy product placement quickly changed this. After being worn by Tom Cruise in Risky Business almost half a million pairs were sold. Soon Wayfarers became the sunglasses of choice for popular musicians and sales skyrocketed as Micheal Jackson, Elvis Costello and Debbie harry donned the shades. During the mide 80's Ray Ban would release the Clubmaster, a pair of glasses with traditional browline glasses, drawing its inspiration from the 50's and 60's the Clubmaster helped to define what retro styling can accomplish when done correctly.

The '83 release Clubmaster, mandatory
for applying to any ivy league school

A second downturn in sales occurred in the 1990's as Wayfarers failed to compete with popular wraparound frames. A sharp redesign occurred in 2001 with the frames size being reduced and many of its sharp angles being relaxed. A lighter plastic was used in the molding allowing the glasses to be rested on top of someones head. The new style gained extreme popularity in the late 2000's.

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