One of the many examples of a product that was made for a functional cause that has evolved into a fashion classic is the pair of sunglasses known as aviator sunglasses. Even though it was developed in the 1930s, this particular style remains among the most renowned even now. Renowned designers of men’s accessories, such as Ray-Ban, are still basing their creations of designer sunglasses on this time-honoured silhouette. Where exactly did aviators originate, and what is it about them that ensures their continued popularity? World War I was the first time that aeroplanes were utilised in a major battle. Bombers and planes used for assault operations in addition to planes used for surveillance were all used during this war. Because of the sun’s intensity and the glare that it creates at high altitudes, pilots in the United States quickly realised that operating during daylight hours may be a challenging endeavour. Pilots began to experience eye strain and, at some times in the flight, they had difficulty seeing what they were supposed to be doing.
To find a remedy, the United States Army Air Corps contacted the maker of the optical product Bausch & Lomb. They came up with the concept of making sun-protecting eyewear in the shape of teardrops that covered the entirety of the wearer’s eye, allowing pilots to maintain their vision no matter how bright it was outside while they were in the air. After some time, this eyewearwas redesigned to become one of the best-known brands of sunnies that continue to be widely used today: Ray-Ban.
From the functional to the fashionable- After the war, athletes quickly realised the value of still being capable of seeing well even when the sunlight was at its brightest, therefore they quickly adopted the innovative new sunglasses concept. These new luxury products were originally purchased by outdoorsmen, namely hunters and anglers.
It was Gen Douglass MacArthur who was largely responsible for the transition of aviator sunglasses from a functional to a fashionable accessory. During the fight to reclaim the Philippines by US forces in World War II, he was pictured wearing his own pair of aviators. This took place during the battle. The photographs depicted him with the soldiers on the beach, and so, aviator sunglasses will be eternally connected with this valiant general, right along with his hats and corn cob pipe.
The fashion of celebrities- The decade of the 1950s is considered to be the decade in which the style reached its peak, as more celebrities began to don aviators and protagonists in films were seen wearing them. The public became aware, as a result of Ray-Ban’s marketing efforts, that these sunglasses represented the ideal synthesis of fashionable appearance and functional wearability.
Tom Cruise used aviator sunglasses in the movie Top Gun (1986), in which he played the role of a pilot and wore such fashionable spectacles. This was possibly one of the most memorable moments in the history of aviator sunglasses.