The history of Ray Ban Aviators - An iconic brand

The Sunglass Fix

Ray-Ban Aviators are arguably the most iconic sunglass model of our times. Originally designed to protect US pilots' eyes from the sun's glare at high altitudes, Ray-Bans have since adorned the faces of many of the rich and famous. Today, aviator-style sunglasses are made by a range of companies, but Ray-Ban Aviators stand firm as a design classic with undeniable cult status. We stock all Ray Ban lenses, including Aviators, and are thrilled to share with you here an overview of their fascinating history.

Classic Ray Ban Aviators with gold lenses

The story begins

The invention of Ray-Ban Aviators dates back to 1929, a time when technological advancements allowed pilots to fly higher than they'd ever done before. With this came a particular challenge, however. Pilots found that they struggled with the glare of intense light coming in from above the clouds, which led to a dangerous reduction in visibility, blinding headaches, and even potentially deadly altitude sickness.

A solution was needed, and swiftly. A man called Colonel John A Macready of the US Army Air Corp rose to meet the challenge. He approached Bausch & Lomb, a New York medical equipment manufacturer, to collaborate on a design of sunglasses that would eventually become known as Ray-Ban Aviators.

Pilot wearing Ray Ban Aviator Sunglasses

Superior eye protection

In 1935, the first release of aviator-style sunglasses was contracted by the military. The initial sunglasses featured a lightweight plastic frame, slim arms, and a far more elegant design than the earlier standard-issue goggles.

The original Ray-Ban G15 green lenses were designed to reduce glare from the sun without obscuring vision. The iconic teardrop shape, and fact that these lenses were convex, ensured maximum eye coverage, stopping light from affecting a pilot’s vision from any angle. On top of that, the initial sunglass lenses were formulated to be anti-glare. This was chosen instead of polarization: that’s because polarized lenses block reflection, which could potentially affect a pilot's safety if they failed to see a shimmer of light reflected on another aircraft.

Used by the military and the public

In 1936, Ray-Bans, the civilian division of Bausch and Lomb was set up and, in 1937, the first Ray-Ban Aviators were released to the public. Early adverts promoted the sunglasses as offering "real scientific glare protection", with a range of lenses and designs made available for various sporting activities, such as golf and fishing.

A redesign of the first Ray-Ban Aviators with lightweight wireframes was released in 1939. The initial military model was superseded by an improved version, the "Comfort Cable" flying sunglasses in 1941, which were manufactured in their millions for pilots and sailors.

These sunglasses became standard military issue during World War II when they were popularized by an iconic photograph of General Douglas MacArthur wearing a pair as he landed on a beach in the Philippines in 1944. A picture paints a thousand words, as they say, and when everyone saw this act, immortalized in a photo, Aviators became inextricably intertwined with that same sense of heroism and patriotic feeling.

The sunglasses to be seen in

After the war, thousands of surplus military issue Ray-Ban Aviators flooded the US market. Quickly embraced by people as a fashion item that was, in addition, functional and stylish, they also added a welcome touch of glamour following the grim austerity of the war. At this point in time, pilots were much loved and universally admired by the public for their role in winning the war, and nothing symbolized a hero more than Ray-Ban Aviators. The frames became symbolic of so much more than improved sight – they were redolent of freedom and the spirit of victory, no less. No wonder, then, that the famous frames became so incredibly popular.

During the post-war years, Ray-Ban Aviators’ popularity continued to increase, ballooning in the 50s and 60s when military style was at the height of fashion. It might surprise you to learn that famed revolutionary Che Guevara featured in one of Ray-Ban's early ad campaigns. Film star Robert Redford made Ray-Ban Aviators his signature look during his years on top in Hollywood, too, keeping Aviators in the spotlight and ensuring their enduring reputation and iconic status. Even today, they are still the sunglasses to be seen in.

Sean Penn wearing ray ban aviator sunglasses

Ray-Ban Aviators' rise to fame

Since the 50s, Ray-Ban Aviators have never gone out of style. Still favoured by the military and the police, they've also made their way onto many of the most famous of faces. Think Sean Penn, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson. ‘Pretty Woman’ Julia Roberts has been rocking her aviators for decades. Michael Jackson famously wore a pair to the 1984 Grammys. And who can forget Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun’, making the shades seem so cool to everyone who saw that movie, then and now?

What's more, in each new season, world-class designers like Armani, Gucci, Miu Miu and Stella McCartney release new creations with their own take on the original aviator sunglass design – proof positive that Aviators are just as popular as ever (and, for us, assurance that Ray-Ban Aviator replacement lenses are always in very high demand).

There are many reasons why Ray-Ban Aviators remain a cool design classic. It's not just about their bold and beautiful, old school style. It's also about the ideas of quality, innovation and everyday comfort that they represent. They may have been made, first off, for the military, but when they became available to us, we embraced that same spirit.

Julia Roberts wearing classic ray ban aviators

Ray-Ban Aviator replacement lenses

Ray-Ban Aviators are quintessentially cool and unconventional; they exude a freedom of spirit that withstands the test of time. That's why it's always worth getting replacement lenses if your Aviators get scratched or damaged because their classic frames are as enduring today as they've ever been. Whether that’s one lens or the two of them, our range of replacement Ray-Ban Aviator lenses is enviable. Like the original Ray-Ban Aviators, our products are at the cutting edge of technology, which we’re proud to bring to you. Whether you require Ray-Ban Aviator Polarized replacement lenses, rb3025 replacement lenses, or something else, we’ve got stock that’s suitable, and the process of ordering is remarkably easy. Replace your Ray-Ban Aviator lenses with Sunglass Fix and get your favourite sunnies back on.

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