December 4, 2015

ICON: Ray Ban Aviators

Ray Ban is the world’s top selling eyewear brand. The timeless and iconic Aviator model is instantly recognizable and has been seen on American Presidents, movie and rock stars, artists, fashion designers and models over the last 75 years. Ray Ban has become the world leader in eyewear through its reputation of style and quality and technology driven innovation. They have shaped popular culture and mark anyone who wears them as an individual of taste and discernment.

Ray Ban Aviators are characterized by dark, often reflective rounded teardrop lenses and thin metal frames with a double bridge (known as the “bullet hole” or “cigarette holder”) and bayonet earpieces. The design attempts to cover the entire range of the eye and prevent as much light as possible entering from any angle, hence the name Ray Ban.


The classic aviator style shape originated at the American Optical company in 1876 and was refined in Italy in 1917 by photographer and optician Giuseppe Ratti. He began to make technically advanced glasses designed to meet the needs of pilots and sports car drivers who required comfort, protection and optimum visual clarity. They were called ‘Protector’ glasses and featured the rounded teardrop lens shape with rubber edges and were fixed around the head by elastic bands. They gained popularity with Italian military pilots and became the standard choice for several air forces around the world, thus they were the original ‘Aviators’.

The classic Ray Ban Aviators we know and love were developed in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb. Designed with input from pilot John Macready who found that flight goggles were not dark enough in the bright sunlight of the upper atmosphere. As airplanes were reaching new heights it was a common complaint amongst pilots that sun glare was causing headaches and altitude sickness. Ray Ban Aviators were made to be extremely light and were the first to introduce lenses that cut-out glare without obscuring vision.


Ray Ban Aviator’s quickly became popular amongst pilots and soon spread to anyone with an outdoor lifestyle. In the post WWII America the military had a great influence on fashion and with people eager to emulate pilots Ray Ban went from military function to pop culture fashion seamlessly.

The company really took off in the 1960’s when they brokered a deal to appear in hollywood films. They have since been seen on some of the most famous entertainers on screen and on the street, including Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro and Freddy Mercury to name a few. The largest profile, and one which showed Ray Ban Aviator’s in their element, was the 1986 film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise. A huge number of celebrities, models and public figures have appropriated a pair of Ray Ban’s, and so they have become synonymous with quality and success.


Ray Ban has had a massive influence on popular culture and remains an enduring classic, only increasing in popularity as the years go by. The statement can even be made that almost all sunglasses have taken certain inspiration from the Ray Ban Aviators, and their other iconic style Wayfarers.

While style and their connection to culture have been the keys to Ray Bans success it is innovation that has always driven the brand. Originating as a technological response to a challenge facing pilots over 75 years ago Ray Ban Aviators are now a timeless icon.