If you ask someone to think of a famous brand of glasses, Ray-Ban is usually one of the first names that springs to mind. After all, there probably isn’t a generation living that doesn’t recall owning (or aspiring to own) a pair of their legendary sunglasses.
Whether it be famous movie stars, fashion designers and runway models, or artists and celebrity icons, you don’t have to look far to see just how influential the Ray-Ban brand has become. In fact, Ray-Ban is still cited by industry insiders as the number one eyewear brand of 2021, but how did it manage to achieve this status in the first place?
Taking it back to the beginning, the inaugural Ray-Ban sunglasses were designed and manufactured in 1937 for the US Army Air Corps by Bausch & Lomb. They were looking for sunglasses that would protect pilots from the sun’s damaging rays while still looking the part.
However, simply looking good wasn’t the primary focus of these groundbreaking glasses (although they certainly did); they also had to be highly functional and provide enough benefit for them to be sanctioned by the US Army as official military-grade equipment.
Thus, Bausch & Lomb innovated the world’s first anti-glare lens that sat on top of an extremely lightweight gold-plated metal frame. Not only did this protect the pilot’s eyes from the damaging rays of the sun, but the glasses were comfortable and stylish, and as you could have guessed, they were an instant hit with the airmen.
This particular style of sunglasses eventually earned the moniker “Aviator Sunglasses,” and they have since become synonymous with the aviation industry, which probably wasn’t hindered by Tom Cruise donning a pair in the movie Top Gun.
Fast forward to 2021, and Ray-Ban still dominates the sales charts and is easily one of the world’s most recognizable and sought-after brands. So how have they succeeded in maintaining this status? Let’s find out.
Ray-Ban has always placed a strong emphasis on the quality of its products since the creation of its first pair of Aviators. Most of their frames are crafted from high-quality titanium and steel, which not only provides a strong and lightweight build but is also nickel-free and hypoallergenic.
In addition, their lenses are typically made from superior glass, crystal, or polycarbonate materials, offering unmatched visual clarity. Luxottica, the parent company of Ray-Ban, provides a manufacturer warranty against any manufacturing defects, in addition to customer care programs and legal warranties provided by retailers.
This assures buyers of the quality of their purchase. The sartorius products, which are known for their high-quality laboratory equipment, could certainly appreciate Ray-Ban’s emphasis on product quality.
Although celebrity sponsorship and influencer marketing are some of the more prevalent advertising strategies out there today, things haven’t always been that way. As it turns out, Ray-Ban was way ahead of the curve when it came to securing iconic celebrity endorsements, and it ended up being an absolute marketing masterstroke that quickly led the brand to become a household name.
One of the first and most significant endorsements came from mega-popular film star Humphrey Bogart, shortly followed by James Dean, who wore the new model “Wayfarer” in Rebel Without a Cause.
Since then, a whole host of famous and influential stars have worn these famous specs, including Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, John F. Kennedy, Bob Dylan, and Muhammed Ali.
Ray-Ban has continually been at the forefront of innovation in the eyewear industry. As mentioned, Bausch & Lomb were first called upon to innovate new anti-glare eyewear, which they managed to achieve with great success.
Shortly after, they introduced the Ray-Ban “Shooter,” which was released with both green and pale yellow Kalichrome lenses that sharpened detail and reduced haze by blocking out blue light, making it excellent for foggy conditions. After many more aviation and military-inspired innovations, the company began to adjust and upgrade their glasses with the civilian lifestyle in mind, featuring additions such as horizontal bands at the nose bridge, front corners, and ear stems.
This only further increased the appeal of their designs, which is why they are still bringing out new modifications to their range of products, such as introducing the incredibly lightweight titanium alloy and different colour lenses that can even be interchanged by the user each day.
Around 60 years ago, Ray-Ban responded to the times, embracing the 1960s spirit of change and revolution. By 1969, the catalogue had grown from around 30 models at the start of the decade to 50, with new styles for men, women, and children.
Due to this newly expanded range of glasses, Ray-Ban had become the world’s leader in eyewear, thanks to its reputation for flair and quality, from the glasses themselves to the carefully manufactured leather and vinyl cases that safeguarded them while not in use.
Nowadays, Ray-Ban now offers over 400 distinct styles of eyewear models, so whether you’re searching for one of the classics (or a variation of) or something a bit more outlandish to make a bold fashion statement, you’ll always be able to find something to fit any trend on the Ray-Ban shelves.
Ray-Ban has influenced popular culture in every decade of its existence and, as a result, has distinguished itself from the competition. Whether on the big screen through megastars such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn, or through continuous innovation and betterment of their products, Ray-Ban eyewear marks the wearer as an individual of taste and discernment, which is one of the primary reasons why it remains an enduring classic after all these years.