Ray-Ban Prescription Glasses are one of the most continuously popular eyewear brands available today. In fact, its popularity has spanned over five whole decades. As the world largest producer of sunglasses and prescription glasses for retail purposes the company is now worth $8.3 billion. The designer giant constantly makes appearances on the red carpet and other high profile events across the globe. However endless celebrity endorsements sometimes masks the extent of the brand’s rich history.
- The brand was founded in 1937
The Ray-Ban brand was first developed by a US company called Bausch & Lomb, a New York based medical equipment manufacturer. The aviation industry had just begun to engineer a more sophisticated class of aircraft models, one that flew that flew at much higher altitudes. The pair first developed the aviator model in a bid to overcome the challenges faced by aviator pilots who complained that the sun’s rays dangerously blinded them during flight and caused headaches and nausea.
- Brand etymology
The name of the brand itself is based on the eyewear’s initial purpose. ‘Ray’ alludes to the glare of the sun that posed a problem to US pilots and ‘Ban’ hints at the product’s promise to customers. In simple terms, the sunglasses ban the sun’s rays from the eyes of pilots. What else could they have possibly called it?
- Bausch & Lomb sold the company for $1.2 billion
In 1999 Bausch and Lomb sold the brand to an Italian based company named the Luxottica Group. Their decision was governed by the fact that sales had dropped during the 1990’s leading the two business partners to think that the products no longer offered longevity in terms of profit. However, popularity increased once Luxottica acquired the rights on the Ray-Ban trademark.
- A non-celebrity endorsement
Despite the continued celebrity hype over the years, it was a non-celebrity that first gave the brand global exposure. In 1944, towards the end of WW2, General Douglas MacArthur waded onto the shores of the Philippines. The photographs taken by journalists captured him in his aviators as he pledged to defend the country and oversee the occupation of Japan. The link between the brand and the prominent General was positive exposure for the eyewear company.
- James Dean was not the first celebrity endorsement
Many people make the mistake of thinking that James Dean was responsible for the original celebrity endorsement. However, it was actually US actor Humphrey Bogart, a film star during the 1930’s & 40’s, that was the first celebrity to put on a pair of the aviator shades.
- The Wayfarers are the best-selling style in history
During the 1950’s the popularity of Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer model had really taken off. Easily recognisable in films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, they fast became the eye wear of choice. However, Wayfarer sales dropped during the 1970’s.
- Tom Cruise saved the Wayfarer
At the start of the 1980’s the Wayfarer model looked set for discontinuation. However when Tom Cruise wore a pair in the 1983 movie Risky Business, sales increased by 50%. 360,000 pairs of Wayfarers were sold in one year alone.
- 60 appearances in 6 years
In 1982, Ray Ban signed a $50,000-a-year deal with a company that specialised in unique product placement. Between the years 1982-1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses featured in 60 movies and television shows. Ray Ban continued to strategically place their products until 2007.
- Protected by law
In the US it is a Class B felony to sell counterfeit Ray-Bans. Crimes that fit into this category carry long prison sentences and/or big fines. However, despite this counterfeit copies of the designer eye wear are frequently attempted. The UAE authorities once uncovered 143,700 fake shades that had been produced by a Chinese optics company.
- Bartle Bogle Hegarty
This year Ray-Ban selected a new creative agency to launch its fresh campaign- which we should get to see in 2017!
Ray-Ban Sunglasses have a rich and extensive history that should not be forgotten. The brand has survived the turbulent fashion industry for decades, outlasting its competitors. Now dubbed a style icon, it is fair to say that the designer eyewear company is now part of history in its own right.