Ray-Ban is an Italian brand of sunglasses founded in 1937 by Bausch & Lomb. In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold the brand to the Italian Luxottica Group for a reported $640 million.
The history of the Ray-Ban aviator dates back to the 1920s, when new airplanes allowed people to fly higher and farther. Many US Army Air Service pilots were reporting that the glare from the sun was giving them headaches and altitude sickness. In 1929, when US Army Air Corps lieutenant, General John MacCready asked New York-based medical equipment manufacturer Bausch & Lomb to create army pilot sunglasses that would stop his men suffering headaches and nausea caused by the intense blue and white hues of the sky, a new kind of glasses was introduced.
The prototype, created in 1936 and known as ‘Anti-Glare’, had plastic frames and green lenses that could cut out the glare without obscuring vision. The sunglasses were remodeled with a metal frame the following year and rebranded as the ‘Ray-Ban Aviator’. On May 7, 1937, Bausch & Lomb took out the patent, and the Aviator was born.
In 1939, Ray-Ban launched a new version of the aviator called the ‘Outdoorsman’. It was designed for specific groups such as hunting, shooting and fishing enthusiasts, and featured a top bar called a “sweat bar” that was designed to catch sweat from falling into the eyes. They also featured temple end pieces to distinguish it from the standard aviator. A few years later, in the 1940s, Gradient lenses were introduced. These were mirrored lenses which featured a special coating on the upper part of the lens for enhanced protection, but an uncoated lower lens for a clear view of the plane’s instrument panel.
Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller
In 1952, Ray-Ban created another classic style, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, this time with plastic frames. They soon became popular in Hollywood, and can be seen on James Dean in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause.
The now-standard G-15 green and gray lenses were introduced a year after the Wayfarer, in 1953.
The brand remained popular during the 60s and 70s, and gained popularity during the 1980s with cameos in iconic movies such as ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980), ‘Risky Business’ (1983) and ‘Top Gun’ (1986).
In the 90s, Ray Ban came out with a series of innovation and sleek looking design shown in the series of the following models: Predators, Inertia, Prophecy, Gatsby, Sidestreet and Cutters, just to mention a few of them.
During the late 90s, as rivals like Oakley gained popularity among younger customers, Ray-Ban started to struggle – and in 1999, owners Bausch & Lomb sold the brand to Italian eyewear company Luxottica for $640 million.
1950s and 1960s
The fifties was when Ray-Bans had gained recognition through American pop-culture endorsements for the first time. Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe wore Wayfarers in public and movies. As the style grew in popularity, celebrities such as Roy Orbison,James Dean, Bob Dylan, and John F. Kennedy were seen in public and on television and movies wearing Wayfarers.
1970s and 1980s
As the 1970s lacked public celebrity endorsements for Ray-Ban, the 1980s was the decade of revival for them. In 1982, Ray-Ban signed a deal with a California company for $50,000 a year in order to have product placement for the brand in movies and television programs.
The media of the 1990s did not show many new celebrities wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses.; however, product placement in movies and television continued, such as in the 1997 American film Men in Black.
2000 – present
Ray-Ban’s “Never Hide” campaign was launched in March 2007. It consisted of a YouTube series and a film advocating customers to “Never pretend. Never be afraid. Never give up. Never Hide”. The campaign also encourages people to live their lives with authenticity and no fear of judgment. Short YouTube videos show musicians and bands such as Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Two Door Cinema Club wearing Ray-Ban products and playing live shows.
In 2007 the company introduced a new campaign that aimed to make the brand more refreshing and compelling, especially toward younger people Never Hide was its name; and it aimed to express the Ray-Ban ideology: “Sunglasses that place you at the centre of attention beyond trends, transcending time and strongly customising whoever wears them”.
Finally, in 2008 Ray-Ban presented Ray-Ban Remasters, a communication program that consolidated Ray-Ban’s strong relationship with music, and its position as a global iconic brand. Ray-Ban Remasters was a partnership with eight musicians who recorded a song of their choice from the ’50s and ’60s and remastered these songs exclusively for Ray-Ban. These songs were performed live in a series of three events in North America, China, and Europe.
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s the Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses were the choice of various musicians such as Bob Marley to Bob Dylan. Ray-Ban became more popular after the release of the movie Top Gun. The movie generated a 40 percent increase in sales for the Ray-Ban Aviator brand. The ’80s garnered great attention to Ray-Ban through movies. John Belushi and Dan Akroyd wore them in The Blues Brothers. Bruce Willis wore them in his role as David Addison on Moonlighting. From 1982 through 1987 Ray-Ban placed their sunglasses in more than 60 movies and television shows, including Quentin Tarantino films such as the 1992 crime film Reservoir Dogs. Tom Cruise also wore Ray-Ban Wayfarer in Risky Business.
Through virtual reality and online advertising Ray-Ban is now re-connecting with its customer/client base. Through augmented reality the company can demo products through the “Ray-Ban Virtual Mirror”, which bridges the gap between viewing and actually trying the product. Through the virtual mirror the consumer seems to try on actual sunglasses.
In terms of social media outlets, Ray-Ban has a Facebook page as well as a Twitter page.
Advanced polycarbonate lenses
Advanced polycarbonate lenses, also referred to as APX lenses, deliver maximum performance for minimum weight. These lenses have been developed to overcome the well known problems polycarbonate lenses encounter in mounting; limiting their use in high quality sophisticated frame designs.
The APX lens is constructed by injecting a molding which gives the lens a resistance to stress cracking as well as micro cracking. These lenses pass all high and low energy test required by the ANSI Z87.1-1989 standard for occupational eye and face protection.
B-15 XLT lenses
Ray-Ban’s B-15 XLT lenses were originally created for the United States Air Force pilots. These lenses are brownish in color, block 100% of all UV rays and allow only 15% of the visible light to pass through them. The B-15 XLT lenses also offer more contrast by cutting down the amount of blue light, as opposed to the G-15 lenses.
G-15 XLT lenses
The G15 XLT lenses have the same properties as the B15 XLT lenses; however, they are composed of green and gray pigments. This lens has a lower contrast than the B-15 XLT lens allowing for the color and brightness of objects to be softer and more natural.
Ray-Ban polarized sunglasses have the transmission axis oriented vertically to block reflecting light. Because of these lenses’ ability to block the reflecting light, many fishermen and water lovers favor this type of lens. Now that many others who spend time outdoors have discovered the benefits of polarised lenses, interest in these types of sunglasses has soared.
These lenses are well known by outdoor enthusiasts such as bikers, joggers, golfers and gardeners looking to eliminate glare. Drivers benefit from these lenses as they reduce the glare from the road as well as the light reflecting from the hood of the car. Polarised lenses are also appropriate for indoor use and can be worn by those who are light-sensitive; including post-cataract surgery patients and those continually exposed to bright light through windows. They may reduce the visibility of images produced by liquid crystal displays (LCDs) found on the dashboards of some cars or in other places such as the digital screens on automatic teller (bank) machines.
Photochromic lenses (or “transitional lenses”) are clear while indoor and automatically darken when exposed to sunlight. These lenses allow for full ultraviolet radiation protection. Photochromic lenses are convenient as they reduce the need to switch from prescription sunglasses to indoor prescription glasses. They come in a wide variety of lens materials; whether you prefer polycarbonate lenses, high-index lenses, or regular plastic or glass lenses, you typically will be able to purchase a photochromic version of your preferred lenses. Experts say the risk for cataracts and other age-related eye problems is associated with a person’s lifetime exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
In 2012 folding sunglasses were re-released by Ray Ban. This feature allows a smaller storage space when not in use. The folding Aviator is a sample brand that featured this type of folding.
Brawn GP announced the beginning of its partnership with Ray-Ban. Ray-Ban entered Formula One with the team in July 2004 and the relationship has provided a powerful global platform for promoting the brand’s iconic identity.
In 2009, Executive Vice President of the Luxottica Group, Antonio Miyakawa, stated that this would be renewed. The red and white Ray-Ban logo is on the helmet visors of Brawn GP’s race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.
Ray-Ban commissioned Zone to develop a website for Ray-Ban Rooms, their summer music festival sponsorship. Ray-Ban Rooms support young musicians and record their sessions for online streaming. Ray-Ban products are advertised within the editorial mix, with many photographs.