Founded in 1937 by Bausch & Lomb, Ray Ban sunglasses have become iconic for their design and notoriety. Their signature styles, the ‘Wayfarer’ and ‘Aviator’ lines, date back to 1952. It’s rare to find eyewear with a history that storied, and that’s part of what makes a pair of Ray-Bans so special.
Made By Request of the US Air Force
As venerable as Ray-Ban is today for their fashionable contributions to eyewear, their start is much more humbled: in 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked a New-York medical equipment manufacturer, Bausch & Lomb, if they could create a pair of sunglasses designed for pilots to wear when at altitude.
In 1936 the first prototype of Bausch & Lomb’s new glasses were released. Featuring plastic frames (a relatively new process in 1936) and anti-glare green lenses, the Ray-Bans (at the time simply called ‘Anti-Glare’) would undergo a series of rapid iterations, including adding impact resistant lenses in 1938 and metal frames in 1939 (at which time they were officially dubbed “Ray-Ban Aviators”.
Why Aviators Need… Aviators
When you’re tens of thousands of feet above the ground, things change. The air is thinner, the world becomes much smaller, and sunlight/glare rarely has cloud cover to shield ours eyes from it. The need for sunglasses at high altitudes is significant.
In the ‘30s, kalichrome lenses were used to filter out blue light and reduce glare. For pilots spending their time soaring in the skies, the difference these glasses made to their vision was significant and impactful.
Ray-Ban has been careful to preserve the iconic designs of the Aviator and Wayfarer lines, shaping them to ensure they remain timeless and relevant. While there are undoubtedly small changes to the overall design, the biggest changes and signs of modernization are in the lenses.
Today you can find Ray-Bans with a variety of lens options, including polarized and photochromic lenses.
1999 Acquisition by Luxottica
In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold their global eyewear division (which includes several optical brands, including Ray-Ban) for $640 million USD. In today’s dollars, that adds up to almost $1 billion ($923,590,000 to be precise). That’s no joke!
Luxottica is one of the world’s foremost optical groups, also representing brands like Armani Exchange, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Oakley, Tiffany & Co., and other well-known eyewear brands.
Try On a New Pair Today!
At New Tecumseth Optometry Clinic, we are proud to offer your customers access to hundreds of different styles of frames- including quintessential styles from Ray-Ban. If you’re looking for a new pair of Wayfarers at way fairer prices, we welcome you to visit us!
Have a happy and safe holiday season!