A brief history of Ray-Ban

A brief history of Ray-Ban - Just Recruitment

Peter Foy has been looking at fashion accessories and the meaning of cool. Here’s the story

By Peter Foy

I wear glasses. I wear them because I need them: no glasses no see!

As the meerkat says: “Simples.”

Some people wear glasses because they are fashion items. Pure fashion items. This is especially the case with sunglasses.

    When Marlon Brando rode his Triumph Thunderbird into view in The Wild One, what was he wearing?  

You wear them, quite often, pushed back across your forehead. A lovely gesture that says, “Look at me and my branded sunglass! Aren’t I cool?”

And the brand of choice? The one that screams cool, regardless of prevailing trends or the age of the wearer.

I would say that, when it comes to sunglasses, there is only one brand worth thinking about: Ray-Ban. Of course, you could have Oakley. Don’t get me wrong, Oakley is a great brand. But, just look at the pedigree.

When Marlon Brando rode his Triumph Thunderbird into view in The Wild One, what was he wearing? Ray-Bans, of course.

When the Blues Brothers strutted their stuff, what did they wear? Ray-Bans.

David Bowie, Roy Orbison, Tom Cruise. Picture any of them in sunglasses and they’re always wearing Ray-Bans.

Ray-Bans are the cool sunglasses. So how did it happen? How did one brand become so cool?

A brief history of Ray-BanBack in the day, the US Airforce needed to eliminate the glare that pilots experienced when flying above clouds. They worked with Bausch & Lomb to create sunglasses for pilots. The prototype was created in 1936 and called “Anti-Glare”.

Anti-Glare: not an easy brand name to promote. But these glasses weren’t designed for fashion. They were designed for war.

As Trotsky famously declared, sort of, “War is the locomotive of commerce.”

Or, to put it differently, the Second World War created the Ray-Ban.

The sunglasses were redesigned with a metal frame and patented as the Ray-Ban Aviator. Now that’s a brand you can promote – and boy did they promote it.

The glasses sharpened details and minimised haze by filtering out blue light, making them ideal for misty conditions. Most importantly, they were for aviators. A hero brand.

So cool was born. And the rest, as they say, is history.

© 2020 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 6 March 2020

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