Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses History: From WWII to Hollywood To Now

Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses History: From WWII to Hollywood To Now

Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses have been a staple of Hollywood for decades. In this blog post, we will look at the history and evolution of these iconic Ray Ban sunglasses. From their creation in WWII to their use in many movies and TV shows over the years, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared to be always there to define what cool is.

Wayfarer sunglasses revolutionized the fashion world. They helped transform ordinary sunglasses into sophisticated fashion statements, despite being fashioned in humble plastic in an unassuming, functional shape.

Before World War II, sunglasses had only one purpose: to protect eyes from the glaring light. Ray-Ban, for example, launched its Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses — with wire rims and tinted lenses — in 1938 to help airline pilots deal with the constant on-off sunlight above the clouds. 

Soldiers and fighter pilots looked gorgeous in their Aviators throughout the war, but that wasn't the intention - it was just a pleasant side effect.Ray-Ban was released in 1952. Wayfarers were made possible by advances in polymers. Shades began to speak about their owners soon after. The revolution did not happen overnight, but once it got started, it was unstoppable. 

 

Wayfarers And a Famous, ill-Fated "Rebel'

Wayfarers were born in Rochester, New York, where Bausch & Lomb, the eyewear pioneers who invented Ray-Ban, had their headquarters. A designer at the company, Raymond Stegman, envisioned the lenses being mounted in rounded plastic frames with flared top outside borders. 

Thanks in part to a doomed, charismatic young actor named James Dean, his brilliant notion gained traction.

Dean wore Wayfarers in the 1955 film "Rebel Without a Cause," which defied 1950s cultural norms and came to embody youthful angst for generations. Unfortunately, Dean died in an automobile accident on September 30, 1955, less than a month before the release of "Rebel."

The original Ray-Ban Wayfarers, as well as a slew of knockoffs, soon appeared on the faces of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and her secret political lover, John F. Kennedy.

Although they were manufactured by a competitor, Cary Grant's tortoise-shell shades in Alfred Hitchcock's renowned thriller "North by Northwest" reflected the Wayfarer shape. Wayfarers and the style they inspired would become inextricably tied with the machinery of fame from then on.

Wayfarers And The 1960s Counterculture

The Wayfarer was "one of the most instantly recognizable fashion accessories ever" in the 1960s, according to a history of the Ray-Ban brand.

That was the case. The Beatles wore wayfarers. Muhammad Ali wore them. Bob Dylan, one of the most well-known counterculture personalities of the decade, was spotted wearing Wayfarers in the studio while recording "Like a Rolling Stone," his expansive lament about a young upper-class woman on the decline.

During that prosperous and turbulent decade, sunglasses became fashionable. Shades were a part of the fashion style of hippies, TV stars, and stay-at-home moms. New forms were introduced to frames, and new hues were added to lenses.

Wayfarers thrived in the midst of it all, with an extraordinary ability to combine form and function. There were a slew of new frame-and-lens combinations on the market, but none screamed "cool" or "with it" like Wayfarers.

Wayfarers Sunglasses Define The Look of The 1980s

The 1970s were a lost decade for Wayfarers due to changing trends. When John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd wore Wayfarers in their 1980 comedy "The Blues Brothers," sales had dwindled to fewer than 20,000 pairs per year in the United States.

On the other hand, things were going to go in the opposite direction.

In 1982, Bausch + Lomb signed a $50,000 deal with Unique Product Placement in California to place the glasses on celebrities on TV and in movies.

According to Fortune, sales increased from 500,000 to 1.5 million in five years.

Highlights include:

  • 1983: 360,000 frames are sold in the United States thanks to Tom Cruise and "Risky Business."
  • 1984: Don Johnson and "Miami Vice" help sales treble to 720,000 frames. The lyric "you got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, honey" appears in Don Henley's popular track "Boys of Summer," adding to the PR blitz.
  • 1985: Sales increase to 1.5 million per year thanks to appearances in "Moonlighting" and "The Breakfast Club."
  • 1897-89: Michael Jackson incorporates Wayfarers into his iconic outfit for his Bad global tour. 

As the decade came to a close, Bausch + Lomb sold the Ray-Ban brand to Luxottica, an Italian eyewear company, for $640 million. It was up to them to end.

Wayfarers Old And New Come To Market

In 2002, Luxottica's Ray-Ban team updated the Wayfarers' frames, reducing and rounding them and replacing the original acetate with lighter injection-molded plastic.

Four years later, they revamped the Wayfarer brand and engaged photographer Mick Rock to capture sessions of rock stars wearing Wayfarers, including Peaches, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, and The Smiths' Johnny Marr.

Over the years, wayfarer frames have changed to accommodate the wearer. Furthermore, they provide a wide choice of traditional and modern styles that align with consumer preferences.

Wayfarers have thrived through all of their ups and downs over the last 60 years because they get the job done in style without going overboard.

Why Wayfarers Are Define Cool?

Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses are the best-selling sunglasses of all time, and they still make a forceful statement now, just as they did when they first debuted in 1952: "I am here, and I will stand up and be counted." Theirs is a tale of humble beginnings, innovative ideas that challenge established norms, and reinvention.

Ray-Ban rose to prominence during WWII after developing the first aviator sunglasses to protect bomber pilots' eyes from the harsh sunlight they were exposed to while flying missions above the clouds worldwide. The tear-shaped lenses in these early Ray-Bans were set in the same wireframes that typified most eyewear at the time.

Wayfarer sunglasses introduced the molded plastic frame and green UV-deflecting lens, which protected 85 percent of UV radiation without causing color distortion, in 1952, along with its striking, flared style.

Defining Cool For Seven Decades

The Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses have been mimicked a lot, but they've never been duplicated. Since their creation, Ray-Ban has been the sole manufacturer of the original, authentic Wayfarer sunglasses. And, despite popularity cycles, they continue to be a strong, iconic fashion statement ageless.

In 2002, Ray-Ban enhanced the frame style by creating a slightly smaller, more rounded variation on the original, produced with new materials and techniques. Ray-Ban parent company EssilorLuxottica reintroduced Wayfarers in 2006 with a new style update and a three-city worldwide tour that included a concert and a rock-and-roll photography exhibit. 

How To Choose a Pair of Wayfarers to Match Your Personal Style

With so many ways to customize your Wayfarers like ray ban wayfarer ii, you can now select one that perfectly matches your face shape, as well as the color and tone of your skin, hair, and eyes.

Shapes

Wayfarer sunglasses have a wide top rim that sits on top of the nose, extends past the eyes to wing-like corners, and is set above rounded lens frames. The front of the style is generally flat, without curling with the features of the face.

Wayfarer sunglasses give a balanced look to face shapes that are round, square, or triangular by creating a sense of breadth around the eyes. The form is reminiscent of the bold fins on a classic 1950s Cadillac and exudes a sense of secrecy and menace.

The Ray-Ban portfolio was updated in 2006 to include traditional Wayfarer sunglasses and "new Wayfarer sunglasses," which have the same iconic form as the classic Wayfarer but have a smaller frame and a somewhat softer eye shape.

Sizing Options

The "old Wayfarer classic" is available in small, medium, and large sizes, while the "new Wayfarer classic" is available in small, medium, and large sizes. Ray-Ban also sells a Ray-Ban Care Kit and a cleaning cloth for a modest fee.

EVERGLASSES, a new product category from Essilor Luxottica, incorporates modern technologies and trends with Ray-Ban legendary style, providing something for everyone. Evolve photochromic and clear lenses with blue light filters are offered in classic and modern Wayfarer Ray Ban sunglasses. Evolve photochromic lenses are light-sensitive and adjust to changing light conditions automatically.

Thoughts

Ray-Ban has also released limited-edition Wayfarer sunglasses in denim and leather in the past. There are different types of Wayfarer sunglasses, from original wayfarer, Vintage wayfarers, new wayfarer, ray ban wayfarer ii, and more that you can choose from! To get the ideal pair of Wayfarer sunglasses like Ray Ban Wayfarer ii washed evolve for your style, check it out here at Eyeglasses123.

Back to blog