Ray Ban is the iconic brand for sunglasses, having pioneered both the aviators and the wayfarer designs in the 1900s, two styles that stil dominate the luxury sunglasses market today.
The Wayfarer has been in circulation for more than 5 decades without any major changes to the design, a testament to the timeless nature of its design. This is not something that can be said for every luxury product; I’d be surprised if the average person could match a Mercedes of the 1950s to its current model.
Launched in 1952, the original Wayfarer was designed by
Bausch & Lomb’s Raymond Stegeman. It borrows from mid-century design icons, namely the Eames chair and the tailfins of a Cadillac. Its trapezoidal shape exudes a sense of edginess and danger that made the design so popular. More groundbreaking than its shape, however, was its make. Built using a new
molded plastic technology, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer marked the transition from thin metal frames to bigger, bolder, and more colorful plastic frames.
Shortly after launch,
The Wayfarer was sported by icons like John Lennon, Audrey Hepburn, and JFK.
As trends faded in an out, the Wayfarers remained a classic in the decades after its launch. It’ll disappear some years, but always come back strong as soon as it was featured again. After sales took a dip in the 70s, an appearance on Tom Cruise in Risk Business (1983) propelled it back into the forefront and the company could hardly keep it in stock again. The design made another resurgence in the 2000s, again driven by Hollywood, and was updated to its current form.
Even today, the Wayfarers have not lost their coolness. It is the brand and model that buyers are drawn to, and practically everyone who is in the luxury sunglasses market will have considered the Wayfarers at some point.