The rise of Ray Bans is a story that spans 80-plus years, cementing them as one of the world’s most famous and popular brands for glasses. What was once a tiny immigrant-founded optical goods company blossomed into a household name and a revered leader in the optical industry.
John Jacob Bausch was a German immigrant looking to begin an optical goods business in Rochester, New York. Quickly partnering with Henry Lomb who provided financial backing, the two opened shop in 1937. Initially success was found through the military industry, for which they developed the iconic Aviators. These models shipped with newly patented Anti-Glare tech, a forerunner of the polarized lenses in wide use today. This placement turned out to be their golden ticket, as the masculine and professional style of said glasses caught the attention of the public eye, nationalizing their brand practically overnight.
Using marketing genius and backpacking off of the momentum from the Aviators, Ray Ban this time approached the public through celebrity endorsements for their next ultra-successful line: The Wayfarers. From 1965 onwards you would find the biggest names from sports to film donning the tasteful pairs of the newest trendsetting item. From Audrey Hepburn and Muhammad Ali, to Michael Jackson and Billy Joel, the newest line naturally took off and became an instant American classic.
Naturally, the gigantic storm of popularity drew attention from the rest of the industry, which soon began to follow in their design steps, crowding the market and giving Ray Ban plenty of competition. Unsurprisingly, Bausch and Lomb handed the reigns to the (now) biggest name in the game: Luxottica. This move was made to the tune of $640 million, a number that would pale in comparison to the massive moves the eyewear giant would make in the future.
Despite a growing industry with numerous competitors, Ray Ban hasn’t lost its character. You see the classic older models and the newer (such as the Clubmaster) featured on screens and runways every year due to the legendary and timeless appeal of the brand and design. If Jay Z and Jake Gyllenhaal still put their image on the line with the time-tested Ray Bans, the average American definitely can. Luckily, even the most popular models can be found at affordable prices. The iconic place in eyewear history that Ray Bans holds is undoubtedly theirs and will be forever, are you taking part?