THE HISTORY OF THE FAMOUS EYEWEAR MODELS; AVIATOR, WAYFARER, AND CLUBMASTER.
Sunglasses are a basic necessity that helps to enhance performance, ranging from protection against unforgiving sunlight to decrease in eye fatigue, protection of the ocular tissues from exposure to harmful solar radiation, and many more. These brought about the inception of these famous sunglasses; aviator, wayfarer, and clubmaster by the Ray-Ban brand.
Let’s talk about the interesting history of these sunglasses and how they grew to be celebrities’ favorites and style.
Aviator’s origins started with a very practical solution to a problem. A problem faced by many pilots which results in headaches, inability to see without thick, fur-lined goggles, and ultimately sickness. This started when an American pilot saw a friend’s swollen and frozen eyes after he removed his goggles at the height of 33,000 feet for a few seconds. It led the pilot, John Macready, to form a working relationship with the company Bausch and Lomb, the minds behind the original Ray-Ban brand, with an agenda to protect the eyesight from the glaring and unforgiving sun.
The result of this partnership was a lightweight goggle with green lenses that minimized dazzle and maximized vision. They were an immediate success and afterward went on sale to the public in the late 1930s which Bausch & Lomb labeled as “Ray-Ban Aviators" for consumers.
Aviator became one of the most popular models publicly when it was endorsed by a celebrity. General Douglas MacArthur, to be exact. An endorsement that left Aviator in the hall of popularity. Other former and later celebrities like Marlon Brando, Paul McCartney, Val Kilmer (aka Iceman) in the blockbuster movie Top Gun and other famous women, like Jenifer Lawrence, Debby Harry, Lily Tomlin, amidst others.
Aviators have always been singled out with a very distinctive design: the thin, metal frame with its recognizable double bridge and other features that enables hiding much of the face from view. Some people also call it the "Rain Drop Design", because with some imagination you can see the shape of a rain drop in the lens shape. These sunglasses have now been an enduring accessory for decades.
The sunglasses style "Wayfarer" has been manufactured by Ray-Ban since 1956. It was invented as a way to move away from the traditional metal frame found at the time.
Almost phased out design
Though known today as one of the best-selling styles of glasses ever, the truth is a few decades ago, they were almost discontinued by declining sales. In line with the modern movement of the mid-century, they were quite popular in the beginning and appeared to gain popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Due to the constant evolving frame shape, other manufacturers picked up the style or were heavily influenced by it.
Blues Brothers glasses
However, by the 70s, when sales declined drastically, Ray-Ban planned to stop its production. But this didn’t eventually happen when the film, the Blues Brothers, was released and featured a cast that wore the Ray-Ban Wayfarer prominently throughout the film. This skyrocketed sales for Wayfarers, resulting in 15,000 pairs sold by the end of the year. Right after that, sales began to decline in popularity again when their sunglass design was reinvented by brands like Oakley, who introduced wrap-around sunglasses for athletes.
Different variations and styles
In the year 1999, Bausch and Lomb made the decision to sell Wayfarer and they were purchased by the Italian Luxottica Group for $640 million Dollars. Afterward, it was redesigned and produced in molded plastic rather than the previous acetate. Since then, sales have constantly increased for Wayfarer and there has been an introduction of different versions and variations over the years.
Many models inspired by the original
Today, they are one of the most popular styles of sunglasses on the market. Almost every sunglasses manufacturer and brand around the globe has at least a few models in their collections that are more or less inspired by that original design, and came up with their own interpretations.
Today, you can find Wayfarer-style inspired sunglasses for as cheap as a few dollars to upwards of thousands depending on your choice.
Clubmaster eyewear shape is sometimes also known as the "browline" glasses, a style which was originally released in 1947 by Shuron Ronsirs and worn by Bruce Wills in the TV series, Moonlighting. It was designed to enable full customization of the size, the fit, and even the color of the glasses. With distinct attributes such as interchangeable brows, bridges, and eye wires, it became an instant success and dominated the eyeglass industry.
Ray-Ban being a strong contender in the market at the time, also launched their first browline glasses, perhaps after seeing their success from Moonlighting. this reimagination was called Clubmaster. Sales of this model glasses almost immediately skyrocketed.
At a certain moment sales declined again which was countered by a redesign and reinvention of this iconic model. When this strategy to turn around sales again, seemed to work, this redesign approach has become one of the standard tools in the manufacturer's toolbox, and extended to many other iconic eyewear models.
Today, the Clubmaster is still known as one of the most popular styles.
Disclaimer: the mentioned model names in this article, like Wayfarer and Clubmaster, are trademark registered and owned by Luxottica. This also applies to the applicable brand names, including Ray-Ban and Oakley. This website and this article are by no means endorsed by Luxottica or their subsidiaries. For more info visit their website here.
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