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When it comes to sunglasses, I own very few pairs. Unlike Jackie Onassis who had a basket of them by her front door (love that by the way), I stick to one or two pairs that I love. So for today’s story, I am diving into the history of Ray-Ban, another iconic American-born retailer, whose lenses remain timeless, cool, and relevant eighty years later. Let’s get started...

You may have first noticed Ray-Ban’s sunglasses in classic films such as Breakfast at Tiffani’s or Top Gun, but the company originated in 1937 by Bausch & Lomb in Rochester, New York. It was in 1929 that the US Army was looking for aviation sunglasses to help keep pilots less distracted. B&L came to the rescue with plastic frames and green lenses that cut out the glare without obscuring the pilots vision. In 1938 they introduced impact- resistant lenses and re-modeled the frames with metal. That particular design would then become known as the Aviator, a style we still know and love to this day. Then, in 1952 the company utilized plastic to create the Wayfarer design, which went on to become one of the most popular styles ever worn by celebrities and public figures.

Unfortunately, the 1970’s- 1990’s was a bit of a rollercoaster for the brand. Despite having a strong reputation for premium sunglasses, B&L dove into the contact lens market and shifted their focus off of eyewear. Eventually they stopped manufacturing lenses, laid off the majority of their staff, and focused exclusively on contact solution. But don't worry- there's a happy ending...

In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold Ray-Ban to Luxottica, which is based in Italy, and who still owns the brand today. What I love about Luxottica is that they wanted to hold on to the historical elements of the brand but provide customers with stronger quality. It increased the pricing of the sunglasses we buy today (from $79 to $129 as an example)- but the materials and technology are better than ever. Luxottica also focused on gaining market share in prescription glasses, and according to a recent Fortune article 30% of the company's current revenue is being done in the optical category.

In addition, Ray-Ban now has over 200,000 customizable options that you can create via their website, and have introduced my favorite Wayfarer style in various materials such as denim and velvet. As a side note- I have always wanted the limited edition black distressed Wayfarer, and I am still kicking myself for not purchasing it (image below for reference).

As you can see Ray-Ban may have had some ups and downs but they are in very good hands at the moment. I couldn’t be happier to be a loyal customer of such an iconic brand. My hope is that you learned a little bit of retail history, and potentially became a fan (if you weren't already). Please check out a few images below and head over to the Ray-Ban site for additional product information. Have a great day everyone...

Imagery: (1) Merchant Inspired, LLC (2) Pinterest (3-5) Ray-Ban

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