The Aviator came first, then came the Wayfarer
As a successor to the famous model Aviator, originally developed for pilots, Ray-Ban launched the Wayfarer model at the beginning of the 1950s.The two models belong to the world’s best-selling sunglasses of all time and have been styling accessories for trendsetters for generations. Until 1952 there was only one model, the Aviator, but then Ray-Ban presented a new style with the Wayfarer. For the first time, the temples were made of plastic. The model which initially was only available in black and, in contrast to the aviator, was considerably broader, is still adorned with small elongated silver studs. The classical way to wear the original Wayfarer is with black or tortoise-coloured frames. Inspired by the designer Raymond Stegeman, the striking form was to launch a new era. Away from the thin metal frame of the Aviator design towards plastic frames.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Blues Brothers
But the Wayfarer’s high recognition in the 1960s also partly resulted from a misunderstanding. The model that cute Audrey Hepburn wore at the beginning of the Truman Capote film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is not the Wayfarer, but a similar model developed by the brand Persol. But from that time on, irrespective of the confusion, the glasses were considered to be unisex.
The strict, angular, masculine plastic frame, with the trapezoidal lenses and the inscription “dangerous”, obviously appealed to both woman in their little black dresses, as well as to the extremely male performer, for whom the glasses were originally intended.
When John Landis’ film “The Blues Brothers” was released in 1980, the black Wayfarer played a leading role, alongside John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The black Wayfarer glasses, launched in 1956, had only had their actual heyday until the 1960s. Before the screening of the movie, only 18,000 pairs had been sold, an insufficient number for the company. This, however, suddenly changed. The first “it glasses” had been born.
New Wayfarer – New Edition of a Classic
At the beginning of this century, Ray-Ban introduced the New Wayfarer on to the market, but the rounded, egg-shaped lenses were only moderately successful. The design of the second-generation model is strongly oriented on the original, but in comparison, it has a smaller frame and softer shapes. Initially primarily known as sunglasses, today the Wayfarer is also available with prescription lenses.