Sunglasses have been used by humans for 2000 years. The first sunglasses were made by Eskimos from leather, wood, and animal bone. These earliest sunglasses allowed only a fraction of light to pass through, thus shielding the eyes from the sun’s glare reflected in the snow.
Since ancient times, man has engaged in innovation and evolution, and sunglasses also evolved through many forms. In 1930, Bausch & Lomb manufactured the first-ever stylish aviator glasses. Little did they know about the impact these would have on America.
Since their production, Aviator glasses have gained immense popularity and have even become a true American icon of fashion, style and convenience. All thanks to the celebrities who found big markets for the aviator glasses, increasing their sales drastically.
Aviator glasses have survived through the World Wars, military expeditions, the disco days, the Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley craze, and are surprisingly back in trend. Here are the interesting facts about Aviator glasses that you might be reading for the first time.
- Aviator glasses as utilitarian gear
With the advent of flying jets for the military, the pilots were flying higher and faster. Due to the increased speed and height, they would develop headaches due to exposure to bright light. To solve the problem, Lieutenant General John McCready called Bausch & Lomb, who reluctantly complied with the military needs and produced Aviator Glasses. Little did they know that they were altering the course of history forever by the manufacturing of these popular historical icons.
- Popularized by General Douglas McArthur
The Aviator glasses did not gain their immense popularity by a celebrity at first. In fact, they were spotted on General Douglas McArthur’s nose who landed on the islands of the Philippines during World War. The photojournalists took his picture in them, and they spread far and wide. In fact, General Douglas’ image became a symbol of the end of the World War and brought hope to many. Thus people imitated the General and bought Aviator glasses.
- Plastic origin ditched for more dignified metal.
The first Aviator glasses were made of prototype plastic. These had green-tinted lenses to protect the pilots from the bright white and blue light of the sky. However, as things started getting interesting, the company quickly replaced the plastic frame with a thin, chick metal one and branded them as Ray-Bans.
- Aviators on the Silver Screen
The first celebrity to wear Aviator glasses in the public eye was Humphrey Bogart. Although he wasn’t very renowned, the relationship of Aviators and the silver screen started then and became stronger in the years to come. The publicity later picked up with James Dean and Brando wearing them on the silver screen.
- Transition Lense innovation
Back in 1974, there was no concept of transition lense. Aviator glasses brought forth transition lenses way before transitions were a concept. The Ray-Ban Ambermatic was introduced in 1974, which altered the lens tint owing to the conditions of the lighting. They were a huge success, and many notable people became fans.
- Bizarre Cigarette Holder Aviators
Raoul Duke’s Aviators highlighted an extremely bizarre feature in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It had a cigarette holder attached, which was supposed to be the smokers’ paradise. This new design allowed the wearer to free both his hands. However, it wasn’t a big hit and people still preferred cigarette holders.
- Top Gun Aviator Frenzy
Along came Tom Cruises’ Top Gun, which caused a wild stir for Aviator Ray-Bans internationally. This one movie single-handedly increased the market sales of Ray-Ban Aviators to 50%. Later came his other movies in which he flew wearing them, rode bikes wearing them, swum wearing them, ultimately increasing their popularity and sales. Tom Cruise truly made Ray-Ban Aviators the American icons they are thought to be. With every new movie, he boosted their popularity. His fellow celebrities also helped Aviators in reaching that status. Aviators became a symbol of a cool style and have since not been out of fashion.
- Counterfeit Ray-Bans became a class B felony.
Counterfeiting Trademarks has been a problem for long. Counterfeits are widely sold as they have lower price. However, the counterfeiters cut the quality of the product. Mostly counterfeits reach the customers through street vendors and discount stores. These cheap copies give a blow to the company producing the originals. Therefore, the trademark counterfeit Act of 1984 declared counterfeiting Ray-Ban Aviators as a class B felony punishable by law.
But due to inadequate enforcements, innumerable counterfeits reached the markets. They were even produced internationally. Recently UAE authorities busted an Optics company from China with approximately 150,000 pairs of fake Ray-Ban Aviators.
- Ray-Bans almost died out due to the Disco-style of the eighties.
The 1980s was not a bright decade for the Aviators. The Ray-Bans almost got wiped out by the disco style eyewear made popular by Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan. Fortunately, right after, people got into designer wear which proved to be a revival for the aviators, or else they would have been wiped out of existence.