10 Crazy but True Facts About Ray-Ban

Pull down the shades. Reveal the truths.

For the better part of a full century, Ray-Ban has been an integral part of the fabric of this country. From the airfields to the Oval Office to the silver screen, keeping a pair of Ray-Bans in your pocket is practically an American rite of passage. But even if you’re loyal to the look, you may not know the whole story. The idiosyncratic tidbits that speak to the journey and the everlasting appeal of a genuine eyewear giant. Consider what lies below to be your official debriefing.

10. The Frames Were Originally Forged from Molten Glass

Talk about coming in hot. The brainchild of the heir to the company, William Bausch, this technique was implemented in 1914 and geared toward reducing costs and production time, eliminating the need for raw materials, and avoiding the intricate process of grinding and polishing each individual lens. In layman’s terms, this meant that Ray-Ban could pump out more shades faster at a lower cost, which was crucial for the fledgling company.

9. Aviators Were First Made to Help Pilots Battle Headaches

With pilots registering higher altitudes, faster speeds, and longer flight times, sun-induced headaches soon became a major hindrance for flyboys. As a result, Lieutenant General John MacCready of the U.S. Air Corps took it upon himself to reach out to the fine folks at Bausch & Lomb (later Ray-Bans) for a solution. His end goal was to issue every aviator with a pair of shades that would limit glare without restricting vision. Mission accomplished without the need for Advil.

8. James Dean Helped Introduce The Wayfarer to Hollywood’s Elite

Introduced in 1932, Bausch & Lomb sought to capitalize on the new synthetic materials available to create a more daring and dangerous look. Officially re-christened Ray-Ban by the time James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause was released in 1955, the cultural icon helped introduce the sleek and shiny face-improvers to the masses. Just six years later, Aubrey Hepburn would do the same for the 2140 Givenchy-designed edition in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Pretty soon everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Andy Warhol made sure this model stayed on the map.

7. A GENERAL Made Ray-Ban a Household Name

Photographed landing on a beach in the Philippines during World War II, General Douglas MacArthur proudly rocked the very first pair of mirrored Aviators (complete with a corn cob pipe) inadvertently becoming the brand’s first celebrity ambassador way back in 1944. As one of the greatest military heroes our country has ever known, Ray-Ban later went on to immortalize his legacy through limited runs of “The General”, an exclusive pair of shades dedicated to his service.

6. They’re the Pioneers Behind Ambermatic Lens Technology

Every few years, eyewear technology takes a massive leap forward. Back in the early 70s, the innovators at Ray-Ban became obsessed with making improvements to their collection. First came adventurer-specific sunglasses complete with mirrored lenses and leather side shields to repel the wind. Taking things another step further with the creation of Ambermatic lens, the next batch of new shades was engineered to be photosensitive. Adjusting appropriately to dark and light conditions and bringing out outlines and shadows like never before.

5. You Can Tell if Your Ray-Bans Are Real or Not by the Hinges

While there may be many signs to identify a fake, the easiest is to simply listen to the sound the hinges make. Fake pairs often make a squeaking sound when opening and closing since they’re usually made of a cheap, plastic material. Authentic Ray-Bans never squeak. Spread the word. Do your part to help stop the scammers.

4. Selling Fake Ray-Bans Can Get You into Some Serious Trouble

Selling counterfeits is considered a Class B Felony. For those keeping score at home, that runs the risk of a fine up to $25K and a 20-year jail sentence. A maximum penalty of course, is contingent on whether the Ray-Ban name and logo illegally appeared on the product.

3. Tom Cruise Helped Rescue the Wayfarer from Imminent Doom

After registering only $18K in sales in 1981, Ray-Ban seriously considered stopping production on the flagship model before a 6-year, $50,000 per year movie and television placement deal was struck, paving the way for Cruise to don the shades in the 1983 film, Risky Business. Thanks to the immediate success of the hit movie, sales soared to $360,000 that year and fortified a longstanding relationship between the burgeoning blockbuster star and Ray-Ban that continued with his use of Aviators in the Top Gun franchise and Clubmasters in the critically acclaimed Rain Man.

2. They Once Went Full Disco

Never go full disco. Seeking to capitalize on the 70s craze, Ray-Ban stocked the shelves with an eclectic, re-designed look fit to be paired with flared bottoms, cropped tops, and egregiously bright colors. Needless to say, the collection failed to move the needle.

1. They’re Pretty Much a Symbol of Political Leadership

No matter the political party, Ray-Bans have graced the famous mugs of some America’s greatest leaders over the last 80 years. From Joe Biden and Barack Obama to George Bush, Ike, JFK, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ray-Ban has been present for nearly every major executive decision made since press briefings became a thing.

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