History of sunglasses

Sunglasses protect our eyes. Make us look cool. And help us make a fashion statement.

But do you know anything about their history? Join us as we travel back in time and take a closer look at the evolution of sunglasses.

P.S. Don’t forget to pack your shades!

Original Ray-Bans®
Read more

Pre-Historic

Inuits created the first-known sunglasses by flattening walrus ivory with narrow slits to block the sun’s rays and prevent snow blindness. They give a whole new meaning to I Am The Walrus.

Source: 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Sunglasses

Ancient poker face
Read more

1100s

Chinese judges wore glasses with smoky quartz lenses, but not for protection from the sun. Their goal was to conceal their facial expressions when questioning witnesses.

Source: 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Sunglasses

Venetians launch UV protection
Read more

1700s

Known as “gondola glasses,” these shades were worn by the nobility to shield their eyes in and around the waters of Venice.

Source: 10 Facts You Might Not Know About Sunglasses

Star power
Read more

1920s

Silent movie stars popularized sunglasses. Sure, they used them to avoid recognition, but it’s suspected they wore them to hide their red eyes caused by incredibly powerful arc lamps used on movie sets.

Source: Stay Shady: The History of Sunglasses

Polarized lenses land in sunglasses
Read more

1936

Edward Land not only invented the Polaroid camera, he invented one of sunglasses’ biggest breakthroughs — glare-reducing polarized lenses.

Source: The Sunny Side of Glasses: Polarized Lenses

Aviators take flight
Read more

1937

Originally developed for the military, Ray-Ban® Aviators, with their iconic metal frames, went on sale to the public in 1937. Aviators were the first shades to use polarized lenses.

Source: History of Eyeglasses: Aviator Sunglasses

Purr-fectly ‘50s
Read more

1950s

Nothing symbolizes the 1950s better than cat-eye frames. Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe popularized this sophisticated and eye catching look, which still has a huge following today.

Source: Stay Shady: The History of Sunglasses

Wayfarers are a scene stealer
Read more

1952

Launched in 1952, Ray-Ban® Wayfarers were seen on screen legends such as James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Today, they’re still a stellar style.

Source: What Do So Many Celebrities See in Ray-Ban's Wayfarer Sunglasses?

Wrap star
Read more

1960s

Ray-Ban® Balorama wrap-around sunglasses blasted onto the scene in the 60s, but they really took off when they were worn in Dirty Harry.

Source: Dirty Harry Sunglasses Worn By Clint Eastwood

Fade in the shade
Read more

1970s

In the 1970s, faded lenses became a fashionable trend that was popularized by the stars of Annie Hall and Klute. One advantage they have is that they can be worn indoors, particularly in nightclubs.

Source: Stay Shady: The History of Sunglasses

Shields rock the landscape
Read more

1980s

Shields ruled when the King of Pop donned a pair in the ‘80s. Today, rock stars and rappers still favor this style.

Source: The History of Sunglasses

Brightest day of the year
Read more

Today

Consumers across the globe love sunglasses not only to express their unique style, but also because of UV protection and the comfort of anti-glare while having fun in the sun. It’s why more than 95.9 million pairs of sunglasses were sold in the U.S. in 2014, and why we now celebrate National Sunglasses Day on June 27th.

Source: Statistic Brain Research Institute

Shedding light on the history of sunglasses.