Ray-Ban: “The pilots glasses’

7th March 2023
A pair of Ray Bans

A signature brand

The brand responsible for Aviators. Famous for its nonchalance aesthetic. A symbol of American pop culture. Ray-Ban sunglasses have become a staple for the masses over the years, and stands as potentially one the most iconic sunglasses brands of our time. Able to move with the undulating fashion movements through the generations with ease. 

An exceptional heritage

The luxury eyewear brand was first created by an American company called Bausch & Lomb, a pointedly respected eye health care brand. Founded in 1853 by optician John Bausch and business partner Henry Lomb, it wasn’t until the Roosevelt years that the brand name Ray-Ban was first coined in line with a range of anti-glare glasses that we all know today as Aviators. The brand was then sold to Luxottica Group, an Italian eyewear company in 1999 who carried the legacy of the Ray-Ban brand into the millenium. The Ray-Ban brand has been built upon years of exceptional scientific advancements in eyecare, revolutionising our understanding of sun protection via lens technology and navigating the world of fashion in their wake. The brand has truly earned its prestigious reputation and its solid roots in the medical and scientific field has amplified its name in the eyewear world independent of its equally impressive aesthetic design. 

The aviation eyewear

Dubbed the ‘hero of american style’, the aviator model remains as popular now as it did back in 1937. The story of its conception is most likely why the sunglasses line has remained iconically ‘cool’ over the past 85 years. The shades, before they were commercialised, were originally designed for the US military in World War II, and were commissioned by Colonel John A. Macready in order to protect the eyes of pilots from strong sun rays. And so, the name “Ray-Ban” was derived.

So, the Army Air Corps pilots were relieved with lighter protective eyewear that was less cumbersome than the goggles that they initially wore. By design they were characterised by their bespoke shaped lenses. They are almost triangular, and cover nearly 3 times the size of the wearer’s eyeballs to allow maximum protective range. If you own a pair, you will also know that they are not flat, but are in fact convex, helping to deflect any unwanted light. The arms hook around the wearer’s ears, functioning to keep them in place on the pilots face, this ‘bayonet earpiece’ design detail is still present on modern aviators. When they were first worn by Pilots the lenses were actually made with G-15 tempered glass and were also able to resist fogging at high altitudes. They typically had polarised green lenses intended to counteract the bright ultraviolet glare often experienced when flying and were a much more comfortable, and indeed elegant, option. It wasn’t until after the war, that the sunglasses would be catapulted into mainstream commercial limelight. 

American Pop Culture

After the war, the look became associated with the ‘war hero’ and very much became part of American pop culture. From heart throb James Dean in ‘Rebel without a cause,’ to the gritty Clint Eastwood in ‘Dirty Harry’, the glasses became mesmerising symbols of freedom, sex appeal, and rebellion. In more recent popular culture, we see Tom Cruise adorning the more modern chrome armed, black lensed aviators in the Top Gun series.

Its roots in official military uniform undoubtedly characterised a masculine chic that has evolved into an iconic vintage fashion accessory that is enjoyed by all and has cemented the brands reputation as a trusted entity of quality, military standard durability and sophistication.

From the office to the outdoors

The frames are, by nature, effortlessly versatile and have crept into use across multiple lifestyles over the years, potentially thanks to their military origins and functional qualities. Could it be true that the success of Ray Ban in mainstream fashion was not necessarily anticipated? Starting out as a military commission, it’s fair to suggest that perhaps, not. Ray Ban was potentially unaware of the natural evolution the sunglasses would take into the 21st century sphere of fashion. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear to see why and how the brand was so effortlessly able to navigate itself into the fashion scene. With such a large pool of customers to cater for, Ray Ban has proved an incredibly prosperous business model that, arguably, has largely been enabled by the pure simplicity of the design and most likely driven by its popularity amongst celebrities.

Worn with a suit, on a low-sun, winter’s day, or on a blistering hike in the height of summer, these sunglasses are a staple item for many. They strike the perfect balance between practicality and style. In a sense, they are THE golden mean designer brand. More accessible in terms of price than other high end designers, without having lost their prestigious edge, and able to withstand a marketplace saturated with high street dupes. They have also managed to avoid being lumbered into a more ‘outdoor/equipment’ genre which can often tarnish brands with an identity that might be considered ‘unfashionable’ and purely built for purpose. Ray Ban have always managed to steer a consistent and nonchalance ability to almost fly above any concrete categorisation in terms of lifestyle. They truly are the classic all rounder.

Recent celebrity looks

Model/Actress, Emily Ratajkowski, was snapped wearing the Ray-Ban Wayfarer Classics recently. This shape is an all time original favourite amongst many that just fits with any aesthetic. They hit smart casuals on the head. Emily goes for a modest black shade for the lens, perhaps to veil her face from onlookers whilst out in public, or maybe for stronger protection against the sun. 

Getty Images

Rita Ora is seen here modelling the classic ‘top gun’ aviator shape in Glamour Magazine. This oversized eyewear piece is a timeless and iconic design that offers maximum protection, nodding to the classic style loved by so many.

Glamour Mag

Former professional footballer David Beckham was seen posting on his Instagram in his Ray Ban RB2140 Wayfarers. Considered one of the most popular styles of sunglasses featuring a thick angular plastic frame and dark polarised glass. The classic black style is one of the most popular with this range coming in an array of different colours.


We stock Ray-Bans at all three of our stores. If you need any help when it comes to getting the right look for you and your face shape, why not chat with one of our style consultants who will assist you with a new eyewear fit. Book an appointment with us today.



Posted by Dipple Conway

"I’m very impressed by the friendly and helpful attitude of the staff at Dipple and Conway, and by the very competent and professional service my optometrist provided. It really is a pleasure to ones eyes tested there."

Mike Lindsay
Optician Awards Finalist Investor in People The College of Optometrists British Contact Lens Association Association of Dispensing Opticians Best Family Business 2020

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