Created in 1936 by Bausch and Lomb.. Ray-Ban is a brand that retails luxury sun and prescription eye wear. The brand is best known for its Wayfarer and Aviator lines of sunglasses. In 1999 Bausch and Lomb sold the brand to Italian eyewear conglomerate Luxottica Group for a reported $640 million.
In the Twenties, US Army Corps pilots complained of headaches and sickness due to the harsh glare of the sun. In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John Macready collaborated with New York-based medical equipment manufacturer Bausch and Lomb and created eyewear with anti-glare green lens and lightweight gold-plated metal frame. The pilots loved it and referred to it as “aviators”. On May 7, 1937 Bausch and Lomb patented “Ray-Ban Aviator”. It harnessed widespread popularity during WWII when General Douglas MacArthur was photographed wearing aviators when landing on the beach in Philippines. Soon everyone wanted a pair!
Sunglasses are often influenced by popular culture and this has been the case since the earliest days of Ray-Ban. In 1938, “Ray-Ban Shooter” was launched with both green and yellow Kalichrome lens which sharpens detail and minimises haze by filtering out blue light, making it ideal for misty conditions. The brand continued to expand its product offering with the launch of “Ray-Ban Outdoorsman” for hunting, shooting and fishing enthusiasts.
World War II saw American Air Force pilots rely on Ray-Ban. Research and development resulted in innovations such as the gradient mirror lens, 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. Though designed for military use, these products and innovations resonated with civilians who wanted to enjoy the same high-performance tools the pros were using. Military influence on fashion was undeniable. Ray-Ban had jumped decisively from military function to pop culture fashion—without losing any of their trademark effectiveness.
From its humble pragmatic beginning offering pilots protection from the sun, Ray-Ban became an integral part of American fashion when, in 1952, the brand diversified from the metal frames and created plastic frames, named “Ray-Ban Wayfarer.” Audrey Hepburn wearing “Ray-Ban Wayfarer” in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ is perhaps the most iconic moment in Hollywood. Throughout the Fifties and Sixties Ray-Ban Wayfarers were the sunglass of choice for celebrities from Bob Dylan to Andy Warhol, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and John Lennon. “Ray-Ban Olympian” with rounded rectangle lenses were introduced in 1965 and worn by Peter Fonda in ‘Easy Rider’. “Ray-Ban Balorama” came on its heels and was worn by Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry”.
The Sixties debuts were the angular “Ray-Ban Meteor” and the cat eye-shaped “Ray-Ban Laramie”. Embracing the 1960s zeitgeist of change and revolution Ray-Ban adapted right along with the changing times. From roughly thirty models at the beginning of the decade the catalog had expanded to fifty by 1969 including styles for men, women and children. Ray-Ban had become the world’s leader in eyewear through its reputation for style and quality, from the glasses themselves to the specially made leather and vinyl cases that protected them when not in use.
Popularity of the brand declined in the Seventies as the disco era brought in extravagant eyewear and fashion houses like Dior and Yves St. Laurent entered the eyewear market. In the mid-Seventies Ray-Ban introduced a line of “disco” -inspired sunglasses that didn’t do well and then focused on technical innovation like mountaineering glasses with mirrored lenses and leather side shields to reflect glare and protect the eyes from sun and wind. Ray-Ban expanded its offerings to include prescription eyewear as well as sunglasses. In 1974 the photochromic Ambermatic lens was introduced.. able to change color depending on light conditions, making it particularly good for winter sports.
In 1982, the brand reportedly signed a $50,000 annual contract to place its eyewear in films and television. It was solid gold! Ray-Ban sold 360,000 pairs when Tom Cruise wore Ray-Ban Wayfarer in ‘Risky Business’. Michael Jackson designed his signature look when he showed up at the 1984 Grammys in a pair of Ray-Ban Aviator. And chose Ray-Ban Wayfarer for his epic ‘Bad’ tour.
In 1999 Italian conglomerate Luxottica acquired Bausch and Lomb including its brands Ray-Ban, Arnette, Killer-Loop Eyewear and Revo. 2003 witnessed diversification again — “Ray-Ban Optical” for prescription lenses and “Ray-Ban Junior” for kids. In 2006 came a complete overhaul of the Ray-Ban Wayfarer. The following year Ray-Ban launched the NEVER HIDE campaign: an innovative global media plan. Ray-Ban Remasters was launched in 2008: an ongoing series of multimedia collaborations. Ray-Ban re-worked its most iconic models in an explosion of fresh color for 2009 with Never Hide Colorize Communication Campaign.
Ray-Ban re-affirmed its leadership in innovation and technology within existing collection. The Ray-Ban Tech Carbon Fiber Collection incorporates the sturdy yet extremely lightweight quality of carbon fiber with wraparound temples composed of seven carbon fiber layers resulting in lightweight, flexible and durable frames. The P3 and P3PLUS lenses guarantee exceptional polarization and more vivid and high-definition colors. An anti-reflective coating is also applied to eliminate glare and provide full protection from harmful UV rays. In 2010, it was the Ray-Ban Aviator’s turn back in the spotlight. Renowned rock photographer Kevin Cummins shot music icons wearing models from within the Ray-Ban Aviator family.
2011 saw the launch of Ray-Ban Light Ray: a new sunglass and prescription eyewear collection that expands the Tech Segment. The brand also continued to update the classics by re-introducing lens colors from the 1960s for the Ray-Ban Round, Meteor and Laramie. The following year Ray-Ban introduced twenty new gradient lens colors including a number of bi-gradient color combinations.
While style and a connection to culture are key to Ray-Ban’s success, technology has always driven the brand. The origin of Ray-Ban lies in a technological response to a challenge facing pilots over 75 years ago and Ray-Ban continued in 2012 to embrace technology particularly the incorporation of LiteForce: a cutting-edge material that has provided solutions for the automobile, aerospace, electronics and medical industries. In 2012, Ray-Ban celebrated its heritage with its “Legends” Communication Campaign.
Through every decade of its existence Ray-Ban has shaped popular culture. Never just a transient trend.. Ray-Ban eyewear profiles the wearer as an individual of taste and discernment.
Timeless style, authenticity and freedom of expression are the core values of Ray-Ban.. a leader in sun and prescription eyewear for generations. Unaffected by the conceptual transience of fashion, Ray-Ban made a name for itself due to the quality and authenticity of its eyewear. Ray-Ban’s eyewear collections remain true to the brand’s classic heritage while continuously evolving to meet the needs of today’s urban lifestyle. Today Ray-Ban is more “iconic” than ever and worn by countless movie celebrities and trendsetters all over the world.
Besides timeless style, authenticity and freedom of expression.. the brand’s mission is to protect the eyes and enhance the faces of men and women worldwide by manufacturing and selling quality, stylish sun and prescription eyewear.
Ray-Ban is a brand of luxury sunglasses and eyeglasses created in 1936 by Bausch and Lomb. Acquired by Luxottica.. the brand is best known for its Wayfarer and Aviator lines of sunglasses.
CEO: Francesco Milleri