A Brief History of Aviator Sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses have been around a long time, but where do they come from?

A Brief History of Aviator Sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses were originally designed by Ray Ban (a subsidiary of Bausch & Lomb, where we started out, too) in 1936. They were asked by the US Army Air Corps to design sunglasses for pilots entering World War II for protection from sun glare, which was shown to cause headaches and altitude sickness.

What was created was a large pair of glasses with a thin wire frame and green lenses.

Aviator Glasses General MacArthur











The frames made their public debut in 1942 when photographs of General Douglas MacArthur landing on the beach in the Philippines wearing aviators were splashed on the front pages of newspapers during the war. In 1937 aviators became available to the public.

Aviators were not hugely successful in the public sector until the 1960’s when Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were photographed wearing them. Popularity waned again until the 1985 when Freddie Mercury wore them on the album cover for Mr. Bad Guy.

Aviator Glasses Paul Linda McCartney














It can be said that they didn’t truly explode in pop culture until 1986 and for that, we have Top Gun to thank. Top Gun stars Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer as Air Force pilots who sport the frames during the movies.

Aviator Glasses Top Gun











Since then aviators have been a staple of pop culture and fashion and are made by almost every brand imaginable.

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