From Hollywood to Bollywood: How Ray Ban Became the Most Iconic Sunglasses Brand in the World
Founded in 1937, Ray Ban is a brand with a long and storied history. Begun by American company Bausch and Lomb, it has grown to become a global fashion phenomenon, with its most iconic designs modelled by celebrities ranging from songstress Beyoncé through to Bollywood starlet Priyanka Chopra
Founded in 1937, Ray Ban is a brand with a long and storied history. Begun by American company Bausch and Lomb, it has grown to become a global fashion phenomenon, with its most iconic designs modelled by celebrities ranging from songstress Beyoncé through to Bollywood starlet Priyanka Chopra.
The sunglasses of choice for everyone from "It girls" through to English royalty, Ray Ban's designs today retail for around $150, and are in constant demand. Here's how the brand achieved its iconic rise to the very highest echelons of style and celebrity.
Designed for the aviation elite
Though it was founded in 1937, the story of Ray Ban actually begins eight years earlier, in 1929, with a man named John A. Macready. A US Army Air Corps Colonel, Macready collaborated with a company known as Bausch and Lomb, in order to create specialist sunglasses for pilots.
The idea was simple: to offset glare and minimise distractions. Flying high in the clouds, these masters of the skies needed a practical design that achieved three things: a reduction in sunlight, reduced fogging, and impact resistance.
After an incredible eight years in development, the first Ray Ban Aviators were born with these principles in mind.
Popular as well as practical
The Ray Ban Aviators delivered all they had promised to, so it was little surprise that they soon became a hit with pilots. However, what their designers had not foreseen was how quickly their popularity would spread.
Quickly adopted as the sunglasses of choice by anyone with an affinity for outdoor pursuits, a slew of additional designs were developed in response, including the Ray Ban Shooter in 1938 and the Ray Ban Outdoorsman in 1939.
As World War II passed and military fashion increasingly began to inspire more populist trends, the brand was embraced by the mainstream as well, eventually making its way to Hollywood in the 1950s.
Worn by a number of silver screen legends throughout this and successive decades, Ray Bans appeared in films ranging from the 1955 Rebel Without a Cause through to 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's, where they were artfully modelled by James Dean and Audrey Hepburn respectively.
From then on, the brand's rise was meteoric, with everyone who was anyone owning a pair. This was a trend that travelled all the way to Bollywood and beyond, with a number of the industry's leading stars photographed wearing the shades, from Priyanka Chopra through to Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh.
The most iconic sunglasses in the world
Due to their incredible popularity among public figures and trendsetters, Ray Ban are now sold in a phenomenal 130 countries across the globe and, in response to this demand, the company retails a wide range of styles and color options.
It is this variation and popular appeal that perhaps goes some way toward explaining their immense popularity, along with the brand's unerring ability to keep its finger continually on the fashion pulse.
Indeed, the glasses are equally as popular in the US, where they're available in styles ranging from the Ray Ban Clubmaster through to the iconic Wayfarer, as they are in India, where they can be spotted in the hands and on the heads of almost every member of the Bollywood elite.
For the fashion-savvy, this means one thing above all: there should always be a spot for a pair of Ray Bans among your extensive sunglasses collection!