Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses: Why they define cool, and how to choose a pair
The best-selling sunglasses of all time, Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses make a bold statement today, just as they did when the first pairs debuted in 1952: “I am here, and I will stand up and be counted.” These sunglasses have a fascinating history. Their story is one of humble beginnings, new ideas challenging old conventions, and reinvention.
Ray-Ban initially became popular during WWII after producing the first aviator sunglasses to shield bomber pilots’ eyes from the intense sun to which they were exposed as they flew missions above the clouds in locations around the world. These early Ray-Bans featured tear-shaped lenses set in the same wire frames that characterized most eyewear up to that time.
Along with their bold, flared shape, in 1952, Wayfarer sunglasses pioneered the molded plastic frame and green UV-deflecting lens that blocked 85% of UV rays without noticeable color distortion.
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Defining cool for seven decades
In the 1950s and 1960s, cultural icons such as James Dean, Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Buddy Holly, The Beatles and JFK sported Wayfarers on- and off-screen. After waning in the 1970s, Wayfarer-style sunglasses made a comeback in the 1980s, gracing celebrity faces like Michael Jackson, Madonna, the Blues Brothers, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.
Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses have been often-imitated but never duplicated. Ray-Ban has exclusively manufactured the original, authentic Wayfarer sunglasses continuously since their inception. And while they have seen cycles in popularity, they keep coming back: a bold, iconic fashion statement that is truly timeless.
In 2002, Ray-Ban improved the frame-style when it introduced a slightly smaller, more rounded variation on the classic, produced with new materials and updated production methods. In 2006, Ray-Ban parent-company EssilorLuxottica relaunched Wayfarers with another style update and a three-city international tour featuring a concert and rock-and-roll photography exhibit.
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How to choose a pair of Wayfarers to match your personal style
With so many options to personalize your Wayfarers, today you can find a pair to uniquely complement your face shape, as well as the color and tone of your skin, hair and eyes. Ray-Ban.com offers a Try On feature that, with your permission, uses your webcam to show you what you would look like wearing a pair of their Wayfarer sunglasses. The site also offers a customization tool that allows you to design your own Wayfarers, using either frame style, with a wide selection of frame and temple colors paired with your choice of lens colors and finishes and custom engraving.
Wayfarer sunglasses feature a wide top rim that rests at the top of the nose, set above rounded lens frames and extending past the eyes to wing-like corners. The style is mostly flat across the front, not curving with the contours of the face.
Wayfarer-style sunglasses create a sense of width around the eyes to give a balanced look to face shapes that are round, square or triangular. The shape calls to mind the striking fins on a classic 1950s Cadillac and creates an air of mystery and danger.
The 2006 relaunch expanded the Ray-Ban lineup to include both classic Wayfarer sunglasses and “new Wayfarer sunglasses.” The new Wayfarer style uses the same iconic shape as the classic Wayfarer but includes a smaller frame and slightly softer eye shape.
Sizes and other options
Classic Wayfarers come in standard and large sizes, while the “new Wayfarer classic” comes in small, medium and large sizes. For small additional costs, Ray-Ban also offers the Ray-Ban Care Kit and cleaning cloth.
EssilorLuxottica’s new product category, EVERGLASSES, applies modern technology and trends to Ray-Ban’s iconic style, offering something for everyone. Classic Wayfarer and new Wayfarer sunglasses are available with Evolve photochromic lenses and clear lenses with blue light filter. Evolve photochromic lenses are light-sensitive and automatically adapt to shifting light conditions.
In the past, Ray-Ban has even produced limited-edition Wayfarer sunglasses in denim and leather.
You can find the perfect pair of Wayfarer sunglasses for your personal style by visiting Ray-Ban.com or your favorite fashion eyewear retailer.
Page updated February 2021