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The rise of the Aviator

Home / Blog / The rise of the Aviator
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Some styles simply do not go out of fashion. For sunglasses it’s the ubiquitous Aviator sunglasses. Aviators were developed by Bausch & Lomb in the 1930s for American fighter pilots, to help them handle the increased glare from the sun which was making the pilots nauseous. Planes were flying higher and faster than before and the existing goggles were no longer viable. Bauch & Lomb created and patented the Aviator sunglasses. 

Aviators became commercially popular, when General MacArthur was photographed wearing them in the 1940s. American pop culture also embraced the Aviators in the 1950s and 1960s, as movie stars, such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, were seen wearing them – in the 1970s, a ladies version of the Aviators was also introduced. In the 1980s, Aviators got another boost, as they were worn in popular movies such as Top Gun and The Blues Brothers. And they continue to be a fashion staple today.

The sunglasses are characterised by having large, teardrop-shaped dark lenses with thin metal frames. Traditionally the lenses were dark or black, but now are available in various colours and tints. This also goes for the frame, which was traditionally black, but is now available in different metals and colours. The bridge of the sunglasses is also distinctive, with its two lines – one straight, one curved - also known as the ‘bullet hole’. The temples are thin and flexible, in-line with the design of the frame, with large-curved ear-pieces to keep the sunglasses from slipping. The overall design of the Aviators remains unchanged today.

Ray-Ban makes a wide range of Aviators now, to suit various styles and tastes. The frames are available in a large range of colours and materials. Lenses are also no longer just the dark lenses, but come in a range of colours and hues. There is an Aviator out there to suit every taste and style!

Today, many sunglass makers manufacture aviator-style sunglasses, but the real Aviators are still made by Ray-Ban. Ray-Ban is a brand that was established by the original designers of the Aviators, Bausch & Lomb, in 1937. Although Ray-Ban is no longer owned by Bausch & Lomb, currently owned by Italy’s Luxottica Group, they are still the original makers of Aviators and more recently, the Wayfarer style sunglasses.


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