Fun facts about Ray Ban sunglasses

Since their appearance in the 1930s, Ray ban has been a true American icon, proudly seated alongside Louisville Slugger, Weber Grill, Levi’s and Mustang. Thanks to celebrity who’s who, Ray-Ban has outlived fickle fashion trends and competitors – even managing to (barely) survive the dark days of disco – and now they’re sitting on more noses than ever before. From its military origins to its Guardian Angel, we’ve rounded up 11 things you probably didn’t know about one of America’s most transparent brands.

1. Like so many style icons, the Ray-Ban Aviator started out as purely utilitarian gear.
Since pilots were flying farther, faster, and higher than ever before, these Icarus were falling with huge headaches from the blazing sun. US Air Corps Lt. Gen. John MacCready called Bausch & Lomb, who tackled the situation and unwittingly left the biggest mark in eyewear history.

2. The first guy to popularize the Aviator wasn’t a celebrity, but General Douglas MacArthur.
When he landed on a beach in the Philippines during World War II, photojournalists took photos that would give the shadows their first global exposure. They became popular with the French military soon after, giving the Arkansas-born commander the fashion validation he obviously didn’t need.

3. The original Ray-Ban prototype had green tinted lenses and was made of plastic.
To combat the intense blues and whites of the sky and the sun, green lenses have tinted things perfectly. As for the plastic frames of the prototype, Ray-Ban quickly abandoned them for thin metal.

4. Humphrey Bogart gave the young Ray-Ban solid celebrity publicity long before James Dean or Brando.
Bogey’s very period-specific choice didn’t quite catch on like the Wayfarer did on Dean’s nose, but it was the start of a beautiful friendship between Ray-Ban and celebrities.

5. Ray-Ban made Transitions lenses long before Transitions.
In 1974, the Ray-Ban Ambermatic was introduced, which changed color depending on the lighting conditions. Hunter S. Thompson was a huge fan.

6. In Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, that weird thing about Raoul Duke’s Aviators was a cigarette holder.
One of the more bizarre Ray-Ban designs, the Kalichrome Shooter Aviator’s cigarette hole would have allowed the wearer to free both hands to shoot. However, Hunter S. Thompson (aka Raoul Duke) still preferred a classic cigarette holder. Because these actually work.

7. Ray-Ban has an application that will filter your photos through their Ambermatic lens.
Like in fact. There is a setup in London where a camera takes a photo of your photo through a pair of Ambermatic aviators and sends it back to you. Your move, Instagram.

8. The disco almost killed the Ray-Bans.
By the late seventies and eighties, the garish disco-style glasses surpassed the Ray-Ban enthusiasm that Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and all the others had created. Designer eyewear and chaos have taken over. Fortunately, they had a guardian angel …

9. Tom Cruise’s films alone have increased Ray-Ban sales by over 40%. Twice.
In 1983, Tom Cruise traded pants for Wayfarers in Risky business and re-boosted Ray-Ban sales by around 50 percent. Three years later, he traded the Wayfarers for Aviators, played sweaty volleyball, rode a motorcycle, showered at a girl’s house, and gave Ray-Ban a 40% sales boost. by bringing it back to its fighter plane roots. Oh, and he increased sales an additional 15% with Rain man. He might be crazy, but respect.

10. Getting caught selling counterfeit Ray-Bans is a Class B crime.
Just a friendly note. And tributes don’t count – the guy on the beach slamming “the real deal” only risks it if it says “Ray-Ban” on it.

11. But that doesn’t scare anyone. Authorities in the United Arab Emirates recently dismantled a Chinese optical company with around 143,700 fake pairs of sunglasses.
Ray-Ban greeted the final order to destroy them “with great satisfaction”. Talk about keeping it real.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is the Gear editor for Supercompressor. He’s not like Bono and takes off his sunglasses inside. Follow him on twitter @ewolffmann.

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