Ray-Ban is the most famous eyewear brand worldwide, and is also one of the oldest quality eyewear brands in existence. The fame-filled history of Ray-Ban began in the 1930s, when the U.S. Air Force was in great need of better protective eyewear for fighter pilots. Ray-Ban provided the solution by inventing the legendary Aviator model. This style icon is still one of the most popular and widely desired models in the Ray-Ban collection today.
Since then, Ray-Ban has introduced many other famous models. Ray-Ban designs have often been imitated, but never equalled. Ray-Ban has always been, and remains the defining brand within eyewear fashion.
Ray-Ban also enjoys great popularity among celebrities. Film stars, pop idols, indie rockers, famous authors and politicians – they are all frequently spotted wearing Ray-Ban classics such as the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, the Ray-Ban Clubmaster, and newer models such as the feminine Ray-Ban Erika and the sleek Ray-Ban Justin for men. It should come as no surprise that Ray-Ban is a permanent feature of celebrity culture.
Ray-Ban: the collection
Ray-Ban produces luxury eyewear for men, women, and children. The Ray-Ban collection is divided into a number of different series. The Icons Series includes the most well-known and legendary designs. The Highstreet collection is a series of sleekly designed Ray-Ban models with a decidedly high-fashion look and feel. The Active Lifestyle series includes the more sporty Ray-Ban models, and the Tech models are crafted from the most innovative materials with amazing features such as interchangeable lenses and ultra-light frames. Each model is available in a broad selection of colours and lens varieties.
In addition, the most iconic designs are divided across a number of beautiful subseries. Aside from the Classic editions rendered in the most classic frame and lens colours, the most famous Ray-Ban designs also come in a number of stunning special editions, such as Rare Prints, Craft editions wrapped in premium leather, Folding models, Colour Mix editions, and unique lens options such as Ray-Ban’s spectacular multilayer mirror Flash Lenses.
Ray-Ban’s sunglasses for children can be found in the Ray-Ban Junior collection. This series includes many classic designs featuring the same detailed finish and high-quality materials as the adult Ray-Ban collection, but then in an extra small size. A beautiful luxury assortment for the smallest fashionistas.
By the end of the 1920s, fighter planes could fly further and higher than ever, but this increase in the height and duration of flights exposed U.S. Air Force fighter pilots to brighter sunlight and more harmful blue light (HEV, of high-energy visible light). As a result, pilots experienced dizziness, nausea, stabbing headaches, and irreversible damage to their eyes. Lieutenant General John MacCready of the U.S. Air Force therefore approached the New York based parent company of Ray-Ban, Bausch & Lomb, if it was possible to create specialized eyewear that could provide his pilots with the right protection. The outcome of this cooperation was the famous Ray-Ban Aviator, which was officially launched in 1937.
Soon, Ray-Ban took note of the fact that the Aviator model was gaining increasing popularity among American outdoorsmen. In order to meet the specific needs of these outdoor sports enthusiasts Ray-Ban introduced two new models tailored especially to the needs of hunters and marksmen: the Ray-Ban Outdoorsman and the Ray-Ban Shooter.
In the 1940s Ray-Ban introduced the gradient lens. This lens featured a smooth colour transition from dark at the top to a light tint or no colouring at the bottom of the lens. The gradient lens is another innovation that originated in military aeronautics. The pilot was protected from UV rays and bright sunlight while looking out of the cockpit. At the same time, the dashboard remained visible through the lighter bottom half of the lens.
In the 1950s Ray-Ban introduced a number of new models that would soon acquire legendary status as well, such as the Ray-Ban Wayfarer (1952), the Ray-Ban Signet (1953), and the Ray-Ban Caravan (1957). In the 1960s many other lasting designs followed, including the Ray-Ban Olympian, the Ray-Ban Balorama, and the Ray-Ban Meteor. Ray-Ban also gained increasing popularity in Hollywood. James Dean famously wore the Wayfarer in Rebel Without a Cause, and Audrey Hepburn also wore a Wayfarer model in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Peter Fonda wore the Ray-Ban Olympian in Easy Rider. You can admire the Ray-Ban Balorama on Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, and in Taxi Driver Robert De Niro wears the square Ray-Ban Caravan.
Over the decades, Ray-Ban gradually became known around the world as a trendsetting top brand. When it comes to eyewear, Ray-Ban sets the tone. And not just in Hollywood. In the 60s and 70s Bob Dylan was rarely seen without his dark Ray-Ban Wayfarer. If you’re looking for a Ray-Ban model from the disco era, however, try one of Ray-Ban’s famous cat-eye models such as the classic Ray-Ban Vagabond. In the 80s the classic Aviator and Wayfarer models enjoyed a further boost in popularity with appearances in Top Gun and The Blues Brothers. Micheal Jackson’s signature look features the Ray-Ban Aviator, but for his epic Bad tour (1987-89) the King of Pop chose the Ray-Ban Wayfarer.
Ray-Ban: the new millennium
In the 90s, Ray-Ban sunglasses continued to make big appearances in popular films. Tim Roth wore the Ray-Ban Clubmaster as Mr Orange in Reservoir Dogs. That same year, Denzel Washington also wore the sophisticated browline model while portraying the human rights activist Malcolm X in the eponymous film. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones appeared in Men in Black with matching Ray-Ban Predators, and Johnny Depp wore the classic Ray-Ban Shooter in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Coming up to the new millennium, Ray-Ban celebrated our passing into the 21st century with a selection of gorgeous remasters of various classic series. Ray-Ban also invited numerous celebrities to get involved with these spectacular redesigns, including Peaches, the music photographer Mick Rock, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, and Johnny Marr of The Smiths. New and playful limited editions were introduced, including the Rare Prints and the Colorize Kit. Existing models were crafted from new and innovative materials such as titanium and carbon fiber, and the iconic NEVER HIDE campaign was launched.
In 2012, Ray-Ban celebrated its 75 year anniversary with an impressive relaunch of limited edition and luxury renditions of the famous Ray-Ban classics, and continued innovations such as the unique and ultra-light LiteForce collection. Over the decades, Ray-Ban has been the key player when it comes to determining what’s hot in eyewear. The influence that Ray-Ban continues to exercise over our fashion culture is immense and undeniable. Ray-Ban designs are never passing fads: they are – piece by finely designed piece – lasting classics, indicators of style and class. Often imitated, never equalled!