THE HISTORY OF THE TOP-SELLING EYEWEAR BRAND WORLDWIDE
& The Creation of the 4 RAY-BAN Iconic Models
Throughout its last decades, Ray-Ban has been instrumental in pushing boundaries in music and the arts, forging the rise of celebrity culture, and creating the power of the rock and movie stars to influence fashion. From James Dean to Audrey Hepburn to Michael Jackson, Ray-Ban has proven indispensable for cultural icons who don’t want to be seen - but definitely want to be noticed. Ray-Ban has left an indelible mark on culture history.
1930s: All about Aviation
As new airplanes allowed people to fly higher and farther, many US Air Force pilots were reporting that the glare from the sun was giving them headaches and altitude sickness. A new kind of glasses was introduced with green lenses that could cut out the glare without
obscuring vision, and the Ray-Ban brand was born. This new anti-glare eyewear went on sale to the public in 1937. The original glasses featured a plastic frame with the now classic Aviator shape. The sunglasses were remodeled with a metal frame the following year and rebranded as the Ray-Ban Aviator.
1950s: Hollywood Glam
In the wake of WWII, Hollywood was having an increasingly powerful impact on what people wore. The Ray-Ban Wayfarer model was launched in 1952, and once they had been seen on screen legends such as James Dean in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause and later on Audrey Hepburn in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ray-Ban Wayfarer became one of the most instantly recognizable fashion accessories ever.
1960s: Revolution and Change
Embracing the 1960s zeitgeist of change and revolution, Ray-Ban adapted right along with the changing times. From roughly thirty models at the beginning of the decade, the catalog had expanded to fifty by 1969, including styles for men, women and children. Ray-Ban had become the world’s leader in eyewear through its reputation for style and quality, from the glasses themselves to the specially made leather and vinyl cases that protected them when not in use.
1980s: Stage and Screen
In the decade of arcade games, MTV, and the Brat Pack, Ray-Ban was one of the must-have brands. In the movies, there were leading roles for Ray-Ban Wayfarer in The Blues Brothers (1980) and Risky Business (1983). Top Gun (1986) took Ray-Ban Aviator back to their fighter pilot roots, boosting sales of the Ray-Ban original.
Michael Jackson established his signature look when he showed up at the 1984 Grammys in a pair of Ray-Ban Aviator. But it was Ray-Ban Wayfarer he chose for his epic Bad tour , which ran from 1987-89 and became the highest-attended tour in history.
1990s: A New Era for Ray-Ban
Ray-Ban continued to be a movie favorite in the 1990s: the Ray-Ban Clubmaster was worn by Denzel Washington in Malcolm X (1992) and Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs (1992). 1997 saw Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones wearing Ray-Ban Predator in Men in Black while Johnny Depp wore a pair of Ray-Ban Shooter in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In 1999 Luxottica Group acquired the Bausch & Lomb frames business, including the brands Ray-Ban, Arnette, Killer-Loop Eyewear and REVO.
2000s: Culture and Communication
Major expansion of the Ray-Ban brand in 2003 included Ray-Ban Optical for prescription lenses and Ray-Ban Junior for children. Ray-Ban Optical draws on the brand’s pop culture heritage and meticulous craftsmanship to create contemporary eyewear infused with Ray-Ban lifestyle and quality. The first sunglass collection dedicated exclusively to kids aged 8 to 12 years, Ray-Ban Junior focuses on maximum eye protection while providing stylish, comfortable frames. In 2005, Ray-Ban Junior expanded to include models made entirely from titanium for a hypoallergenic and lightweight yet sturdy option.
In 2007 Ray-Ban launched the NEVER HIDE campaign, an innovative global media plan highlighting Ray-Ban’s unique ability to place the Ray-Ban wearer at the center of attention with a timeless cool statement. NEVER HIDE kicked off with an interactive project in NYC’s Times Square featuring 12 screens displaying images submitted by Ray-Ban wearers who wanted to express themselves honestly and spontaneously at “the crossroads of the world.”
The images were then displayed in a gallery on Ray-Ban.com so that the NEVER HIDE experience would continue worldwide, showcasing Ray-Ban’s ability to celebrate the individual and the movement.
2010s: Updates, Advances and Celebrating 75 Years
In 2010, it was the Ray-Ban Aviator’s turn back in the spotlight. Renowned rock photographer Kevin Cummins shot music icons past and present - including The Virgins, The Big Pink, We Are Scientists and Iggy Pop - wearing various models from within the Ray-Ban Aviator family.
While style and a connection to culture are key to Ray-Ban’s success, technology has always driven the brand. The origin of Ray-Ban lies in a technological response to a challenge facing pilots over 75 years ago and Ray-Ban continues until present to embrace technology as it develops new models for the future.
Ray-Ban has unveiled its most celebrated models reinterpreted with a modern take. Originally launched in the ’80s, the feminine Ray-Ban Cats 1000 were later reintroduced with an elongated and rounded design in an array of bright and bold colors, including three different two-tone variations and a smoky lens. The masculine Ray-Ban Cats 5000 received a similar update, including two-tone models of purple and white, gray and blue, and pink and black.
Ray-Ban continued to update the classics in 2011 by re-introducing three lens colors from the 1960s - pink, blue and green - for the Ray-Ban Round, Meteor and Laramie models. The following year, Ray-Ban introduced twenty new gradient lens colors, including a number of bi-gradient color combinations.