RAY-BAN: ThE hISTORY Of ThE TOp SELLING EYEwEAR BRANd wORLd wIdE 1936 Birth of Ray-Ban Eyewear For aviation, both military and civil, the 1920s was a decade of remarkable advances. Air traffic grew as a result. With the development of new aeroplanes that could fly higher and higher came altitude-related problems. Pilots were suffering from headaches and nausea because of glare and the great distances that they had to traverse. In 1929, General MacCready asked Ray-Ban for a new type of air force eyewear that would protect pilots from glare at high altitudes while at the same time ensuring a clear field of vision. The company took up the challenge and succeeded in developing a new pair of glasses with lenses that could block out a high proportion of visible light. This marked the birth of Ray-Ban’s first, green-lens ANTI GLARE eyewear. The first model to go on sale to the public - in 1936 - featured a plastic frame with the classic Aviator shape. 1937 Ray-Ban Trademark Registered The name ANTI GLARE was too generic. It did not distinguish the new eyewear clearly from rival products. In 1937, the Ray-Ban trademark was registered and marketed, gracing a new model with a metal frame. The name Ray-Ban was chosen for the new product to emphasise that the eyewear could block out glare and protect the user’s eyes from the sun’s rays. The Large Metal model immediately leapt to fame with the name Ray-Ban Aviator. 1938 Early Ray-Ban Models During the early years, Ray-Ban’s marketing strove to foreground the functional aspect of the new eyewear, targeting sports enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoor life. In 1938, the first Shooters were launched. These were available in two types of lens, Ray-Ban Green and Kalichrome, a pale yellow lens for use in misty or foggy conditions. Shortly afterwards, a third, ground-breaking, metal-frame model hit the market. This was Outdoorsman, originally called “Skeet Glass” and designed for specific user groups such as hunting, shooting and fishing enthusiasts. 1939-1940 Ray-Ban eyewear became increasingly popular among pilots, police officers, hunters, anglers and all those involved in outdoor activities. Hollywood was just beginning to have an impact on the world of fashion. 1940s Ray-Ban went to war. American air force pilots used Ray-Bans on their missions because of the brand’s outstanding lenses. In the 1940s, a new kind of lens was developed for commercial use, despite the huge commitment to research and development for military purposes. This was the gradient mirror lens. It featured a special coating on the upper part of the lens for enhanced protection, and no coating lower down for a clear view of instrumentation and other objects. 1950s In a certain sense, the 1950s was a decade of profound change, or at least of development, because fashion was becoming increasingly important. Consumers were beginning to perceive eyewear as a fashion accessory, probably under the influence of the film industry. Glasses were no longer just objects to be worn for practical reasons.
1951 In response to a specific request from the U.S. Navy, Ray-Ban developed the grey-lenses N-15. 1952 This was the year when Ray-Ban launched a new model, the wayfarer. Like many other Ray-Ban models, Wayfarer glasses had a simple design and were easy to wear. Destined to become classics, they immediately attracted the attention of the film industry. 1953 A new type of lens was developed to replace the N-15. Another classic, it was called G-15 and featured a grey lens that transmitted 15% of visible light and was suitable for general use. 1957 In 1957, Ray-Ban launched its fourth metal-frame model, Caravan, which introduced a squarish lens as an alternative to the now celebrated Aviator eye shape. 1958 For the first time, the Ray-Ban catalogue included two pages of plastic frames for women, offering a wider choice of products. This was the launch year for Smart Set, a model featuring coloured “wings”. New motifs, colours and...
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