Ray Ban : A History of the Brand

Ray Ban: The Brand


Ray Ban is one of the most well-known and iconic brand of both eyeglasses and sunglasses. Ray Bans have been worn by movie stars and politicians as well as fashion designers and rock stars. Since Ray Bans arrival on the scene almost every generation has been impacted by their style and flare. You would be hard pressed to find another brand of eyewear which has made such an impact in popular culture for almost 80 years. They were founded in 1937 by Bausch and Lomb and in 1999 the brand was sold to the Italian Luxottica Group. They are most often known for their classic Aviator and Wayfarer style glasses. These styles have remained ever popular and timeless, making Ray Ban a tried and trusted brand of eye wear.

Though Ray Ban glasses recall fun and fashionable choices in eyewear, the beginnings of this brand were in fact something entirely different. Their creation was intended to be practical as opposed to fashionable during a time when new airplanes were allowing pilots to fly further and farther than ever before. It was in 1929 that a Lieutenant General with the American US Army Corps approached Bausch and Lomb with the idea of creating and manufacturing aviation style sunglasses that would reduce the amount of distortion and glare his pilots dealt with while in the air. He was concerned not only about the blue and white colors of the sky but also that his pilot’s glasses would fog up, rendering them unable to see while operating at high altitudes. By 1937 the first prototypes were created. They were a combination of plastic frames with green tinted lenses to cut glare without impacting vision. The lenses used were built to reduce haze by filtering out blue light as well as sharpening details. By 1938 they had also created impact resistant lenses and had begun manufacturing the aviators with lightweight metal frames instead of plastic. It was at this point they were branded at the Ray Ban Aviator. This classic style of sunglass is still commonly sought after and worn today.

Ray ban during the 1930’s

In 1938 another new style of frame was released and it was known as the Ray Ban Shooter. By this point Ray Ban’s were becoming increasingly popular with the general public and not just those involved in aviation. They were becoming more popular with those who enjoyed outdoor activity and the most notable feature of this frame was the built in cigarette holder. This design was intended to free up the hands of the “shooter” so to speak. But the new and creative designs of Ray Ban didn’t stop there. By 1939 its customer base was further expanded with the creation of the Ray Ban Outdoorsman. Its original name was the Skeet Glass and it was geared towards those who enjoyed hunting and fishing excursions. The design of these frames included several different and unique materials including calf leather.

Ray ban during the 1940’s

By the 1940s and throughout World War 2 American Air Force Pilots continued to utilize Ray Ban sunglasses. Further research and development had resulted in even more effective types of lenses with extra protective coatings on the top of the lenses and an uncoated portion on the bottom of the lens to ensure there was a clear view of the plane’s instrument panel. As military style clothing became ever popular in fashion outlets throughout the war time years, so did Ray Ban’s. They allowed every day people to mimic their military heroes with sleek and standout style. Ray Ban had truly secured its iconic style from military to popular culture.

Ray ban during the 1950’s

In the 1950’s Hollywood was gaining huge momentum in shaping the lives and style of the public. In 1952 the iconic Wayfarer was released and was worn most notably by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even after decades, images of these stars wearing their Wayfarers are still relevant and well known across North America and the world. The Ray Ban Wayfarer much like the Aviator became one of the most recognized type of glasses in the world. This remains true even in 2017. The innovation didn’t stop here. By 1953 the Ray Ban Signet was released. These frames were a little more glamorous with gold and silver detailing. By 1957 the Ray Ban Caravan was introduced and was most notably worn by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. The Caravan was a modified version of the Aviator; it was a slightly squarer version. By 1958 there was also a specific line of glasses geared towards women released. Ray Ban had initially been geared mainly towards men but women had been equally captivated by them. These frames were more colourful and offered unique designs and patterns that mimicked contemporary fashion for this era.

Ray ban during the 1960’s

The 1960’s are known for their social and cultural revolution. Ray Ban of course rode the waves of change. At the beginning of this decade they had 30 models in their collection, and by the end there were 50. Their catalog included new models geared towards women, men and children as well. By this point in time Ray Ban had truly become a cultural phenomenon and were now a world leader in eyewear. In 1965 the Ray Ban Olympian I and II were released and were most notably worn by Peter Fonda in the 1969 film Easy Rider. The Olympian had a modestly curved metal bridge and rounded off rectangular lenses. In 1968 the Ray Ban Balorama was released and worn by Clint Eastwood in the film Dirty Harry. Bob Dylan who was a cultural sensation in the 1960’s was virtually always seen in his Wayfarers, reinforcing their ever-present spot in popular culture.

Ray ban during the 1970’s

The 1970’s brought a new wave of Disco inspired culture. People in the 70’s became increasingly intent on dressing in ways that were always impressive; this included even wearing sunglasses indoors. The eyewear market at this point in time was becoming even more sophisticated than it had been and was divided into two distinct forms of eyewear; sporty type glasses and more refined fashion accessories. The Ray Ban Vegabond and the Ray Ban Stateside were both released in this era and these frames were both plastic. The 1970’s were also a time of further growth and innovation for Ray Ban. They began to manufacture mountaineering style glasses with both mirrored lenses and leather side shields. The purpose of this was to reduce glare as much as possible as well as keeping the eyes protected from high winds. It was during this time that they also began to offer prescription style lenses which furthered their market base and appeal. Ray Ban’s were now accessible to everyone. They also came out with lenses that were able to change colour depending on the type of light the wearer was under. These Ambermatic lenses proved to be highly useful when used during winter activities as they were able to sharpen the outlines of shapes all the while reducing bright light and the glare that goes with it.

Ray ban during the 1980’s

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Ray Ban was still a top choice. Both the Wayfarer and the Aviator were featured in top Hollywood films which included Risky Business and the ever-popular Top Gun with Tom Cruise in 1986. After the release of Top Gun, Ray Ban saw a surge in Aviator sales once again. Michael Jackson was another cultural sensation in this era and he wore both Aviators and Wayfarers which only furthered their popularity. By 1990 The Ray Ban Clubmaster fell into favour after it was worn by Denzel Washington. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones both wore Ray Ban Predators in the ever-popular Men in Black and Johnny Depp rocked a pair Ray Ban Shooter’s in the 1998 film Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. It remained clear that Ray Ban frames dominated the big screen and were worn by many of Hollywood’s top performers, ensuring this brand would always remain a cultural sensation.

Ray ban during the 2000s

In the 2000’s Ray Ban continued its growth and expanded its appeal even further. In 2003 they created Ray Ban Optical specifically for prescription lenses and Ray Ban Junior for children. The Ray Ban Junior collection was the first sunglass line dedicated to children and it included frames that offer the most protection for children’s eyes using stylish, lightweight and hypoallergenic frames. In 2006 the Wayfarer model was also updated. By 2007 the Ray Ban Never Hide campaign began; the goal of the campaign was to demonstrate Ray Ban’s unique ability to make everyone the center of attention all the while allowing them to make their own individual statement to the world. This began in New York City’s time square where images showcasing individuals who had submitted images of themselves for the campaign were spread across 12 big screens. These same images were then shared on the Ray Ban website so that this movement based on individuality would continue to spread nationwide and around the world. In 2009 they launched their Never Hide Colorize Communication Campaign. The purpose of this campaign was to allow fans and of the brand to create their own customized pair of shades using a kit with stencils and markers. They also began to offer frames with designs on the inner portion of the frame. They then went on to introduce a new collection known as the Tech Carbon Fibre Collection. These frames are made with sturdy yet lightweight carbon fibre. They have wraparound style temples that are made to be durable. The polycarbonate lenses and crystal lenses used in these frames offer top quality polarization as well as anti reflective coatings. All in all the 2000’s were a time of continued growth and innovation for the Ray Ban brand.

Both style and culture have played a huge role in the formation and success of the Ray Ban brand but their success has also been fueled by their constant dedication to technological advances. They continue to strive towards developing the safest and most cutting edge type of lenses and frames for everyone regardless of lifestyle can enjoy. The strength, flexibility and iconic nature of these frames will likely continue to dominate the eyewear market around the world for years to come.

Here at 360 Eyecare – Metro in downtown Toronto we offer a wide selection of Ray Ban optical frames to suit all your needs as well as an extensive collection of the tried and true Ray Ban sunglasses. Whether it’s the Aviator, the Wayfarer or the Clubmaster; if you’re looking for it chances are we have it (and if we don’t we can happily bring it in for you at no extra charge.) Our Toronto based optometrists offer eye examinations Monday through Saturday and you’re sure to find a pair of glasses to suit all your needs during your visit.