Ray-Ban Wayfarer

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"Wayfarers" redirects here. For other uses, see Wayfarer.
Ray-Ban New Wayfarer sunglasses (RB2132 901L)
Figure 1, US design patent #169,995. Patent granted July 7, 1953, and assigned to Bausch and Lomb by Raymond F.E. Stegeman.[1]

The Ray-Ban Wayfarer is a design of sunglasses manufactured by Ray-Ban since 1952, when their design was a revolutionary break from the metal eyewear of the past. Wayfarers enjoyed early popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, especially after they were worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Though the sunglasses had faded from the limelight by the 1970s, a lucrative 1982 product placement deal brought Wayfarers to their height of popularity. Since the mid-2000s, the sunglasses have been enjoying a revival. Wayfarers are sometimes cited as the best-selling design of sunglasses in history[2][3][a] and have been called a classic of modern design[4] and one of the most enduring fashion icons of the 20th century.[5]


[edit] Design and early popularity

Audrey Hepburn wearing Wayfarers in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's

Wayfarers were designed in 1952 by optical designer Raymond Stegeman,[6][7] who procured dozens of patents for Bausch and Lomb, Ray-Ban's parent company.[8] The design was a radically new shape, "a mid-century classic to rival Eames chairs and Cadillac tail fins."[6] According to design critic Stephen Bayley, the "distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a non-verbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness, but one nicely tempered by the sturdy arms which, according to the advertising, gave the frames a 'masculine look.'"[6] Wayfarers, which took advantage of new plastic molding technology,[4][6] marked the transition between a period of eyewear with thin metal frames and an era of plastic eyewear.[9]

Like Ray-Ban Aviators, Wayfarers were originally marketed as sunglasses for pilots.[10] Despite the advertising campaign targeted at men, however, they quickly rose in popularity among Hollywood starlets.[10] Kim Novak wore Wayfarers on the French Riviera in 1954,[6] and Marilyn Monroe made Wayfarers into a "cult object."[11] Audrey Hepburn's wearing of tortoise shell Wayfarers sunglasses in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's[9][12] was the design's turning point, "transforming the Wayfarer into an accessory legend."[12] (Wayfarers sunglasses have gone through numerous design modifications during their history;[13] Hepburn's oversized shades in Breakfast at Tiffany's are an example of the early Wayfarer silhouette.[13]) During the 1950s and 1960s, celebrities including John Lennon,[6] Bob Dylan,[14] James Dean,[5] John F. Kennedy,[15] Roy Orbison,[6] and Andy Warhol[16] were known for wearing Wayfarers.

[edit] 1970s slump and 1980s comeback

Actor Corey Feldman wearing Wayfarers at the Academy Awards, 1989

After Wayfarers' heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, sales declined.[6] Though Wayfarers were worn in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers,[17] only 18,000 pairs were sold in 1981,[18] and Wayfarers were on the verge of discontinuation.[19]

The sunglasses' fate was reversed, however, when in 1982 Ray-Ban signed a $50,000-a-year deal with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, to place Ray-Bans in movies and television shows.[18] (Between 1982 and 1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and television shows per year;[18] Ray-Ban's product placement efforts have continued through 2007.[20]) Tom Cruise's wearing of Wayfarers in the 1983 movie Risky Business marked the beginning of a Wayfarers phenomenon; 360,000 pairs were sold that year.[18] By 1986, after further appearances in Miami Vice and Moonlighting, sales had reached 1.5 million.[18] Wayfarers rose to popularity among musicians, including Johnny Marr,[12] Blondie's Debbie Harry,[12] Madonna, Elvis Costello,[12] Morrissey, [21] and members of U2,[12] and among other celebrities such as Jack Nicholson[22] and even Anna Wintour.[23] Bret Easton Ellis' fiction often name-dropped references to Wayfarers,[24] and Don Henley's 1984 song "The Boys Of Summer" contained the lyric "You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby". Ray-Ban's Wayfarer offerings expanded from two models in 1981 to more than 40 models in 1989,[25] and Wayfarers were the decade's sunglasses of choice.[26]

[edit] 1990s decline and 2001 redesign

In the 1990s, the frames again became unpopular.[13] The 1950s revival that fueled the glasses' popularity in the 1980s had lost steam, and Wayfarers were outcompeted by wraparound frames.[13] In 2001, the Wayfarer underwent a significant redesign, with the frames made smaller and less angular, and changed from acetate to a lighter injected plastic.[13] The changes were intended to update the frames' style during a period of unpopularity and to make them easier to wear (the frames' previous tilt made them impossible to perch on top of one's head, for instance).[13] According to an eyewear boutique owner commenting in The Independent in 2007, however, the design was "diluted" and "horrible."[13]

[edit] Late 2000s comeback

Model Emina Cunmulaj wearing white Ray-Ban Wayfarers, September 2007

Wayfarers were brought back into fashion in the late 2000s when celebrities including Chloë Sevigny and Mary-Kate Olsen began wearing vintage frames.[27][28] Ray-Ban designers soon noticed that vintage Wayfarers were commanding high prices on eBay,[13] and the 2007 re-introduction of the original Wayfarer design aimed to respond to the demand.[12][13][29] (As of 2007, Wayfarers were available in Original Wayfarer, New Wayfarer, and Wayfarer Folding styles.[30]) Ray-Ban's marketing strategy was threefold: a return to the sunglasses' original, rebellious design, an "edgy" advertising campaign and "high-profile PR events", and the use of new media like MySpace to connect with consumers.[17] Sales in 2007 were 231% greater than in 2006;[7] as of October 2007, the Wayfarer was the Luxottica Group's third-best-selling style.[31] As of July 2008, sales had increased 40% over 2007.[7]

During the 2000s Wayfarer revival, many sunglasses designs inspired by the original Wayfarers were produced by designers unaffiliated with Ray-Ban. Grey Ant's Grant Krajecki designed a larger, cartoonish version of the glasses "so extreme that [they] are best worn by those with a good sense of humor".[32] Sabre Vision's "Poolside" design is a smaller, thinner version that resembles "a cross between old-school Oakleys and the pair worn by Tom Cruise in 'Risky Business'".[32] Other Wayfarer-inspired sunglasses included Oliver Peoples' "Hollis", REM Eyewear's "Converse", and various designs in Juicy Couture, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, and Marc Jacobs' 2008 lines.[31] Between July and September 2008, retailers began selling frameless Wayfarers.[33]

In early 2008, Ray-Ban released a line of "colorized" Wayfarers. These frames came in such colors as camouflage, pink, navy blue, and turquoise. Other designs featured color-combinations like gold on black, red on tortoise-shell, and white on black. These new-edition Wayfarers were part of the Ray-Ban "Colorize" line.

[edit] Notes

a. ^  Ray-Ban Aviators have also been credited with this achievement.[34]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Stegeman, Raymond F.E. Front for Spectacle Frames. US Patent #169,995.
  2. ^ Hirschlag, Jennifer (citing Ray-Ban's brand director, Marcello Favagrossa). "Ray-Ban Tunes in to a New Generation." Women's Wear Daily (November 13, 2006).
  3. ^ Hambling, David. Weapons Grade: How Modern Warfare Gave Birth to Our High-Tech World. Carroll & Graf Publishers (2006): p69. ISBN 0786717696.
  4. ^ a b Delap, Leanne. "I wear my sunglasses at night". The Globe and Mail (July 12, 2008).
  5. ^ a b Derrick, Gabrielle. "The world's favorite shades turn 40". The Age (October 3, 1993).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Bayley, Stephen. "Notes & Theories: Through a Pair of Glasses Darkly." The Independent on Sunday (June 18, 2006).
  7. ^ a b c Walker, Esther. "Geeky but chic". Independent Extra (July 3, 2008).
  8. ^ Google patent search for Raymond Stegeman. 70 of 72 patents issued to Stegeman were assigned to Bausch and Lomb.
  9. ^ a b Associated Press. "Grace, Audrey and Jackie define style forever." Palo Alto Daily News (December 6, 2006).
  10. ^ a b Sheedy, Chris. "Icons - in the beginning..." The Sun-Herald (Sydney, Australia) (December 9, 2007)
  11. ^ Heinonen, Visa, Jukka Kortti, and Mika Pantzar. "How Lifestyle Products Became Rooted in the Finnish Consumer Market: Domestication of Jeans, Chewing Gum, Sunglasses, and Cigarettes." National Consumer Research Center, Working Papers 80 (2003).
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Hirschlag, Jennifer. "Ray-Ban Tunes in to a New Generation." Women's Wear Daily (November 13, 2006).
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rushton, Susie. "Dark Star." The Independent. (April 16, 2007.)
  14. ^ Wilson, Beth, Sophia Chabbott & Kristin Larson. "At a glance". Women's Wear Daily (February 25, 2008).
  15. ^ Whiting, Sam. "Shades' Future Is Bright." San Francisco Chronicle (April 20, 1995), E5.
  16. ^ Chang, Vickie. "Trendzilla: Wayfaring the Right Way." Orange County Weekly (March 22, 2007).
  17. ^ a b Brunelli, Richard. "Ray-Ban Wayfarers: Made in the Shade". Adweek (October 1, 2007).
  18. ^ a b c d e Leinster, Colin. "A Tale of Mice and Lens." Fortune (September 28, 1987).
  19. ^ August, Melissa et al. "Through A Glass Darkly." Time (July 12, 1999).
  20. ^ Passariello, Christina. "Return of the Wayfarers: Luxottica revamps once-cool Ray-Bans with an eye to women." The Wall Street Journal Europe (October 27, 2006).
  21. ^ Chilvers, Simon. "You've been framed". The Guardian (May 30, 2008).
  22. ^ Spade, Kate. Style. Simon and Schuster (2004), p66. ISBN 0743250672.
  23. ^ Oppenheimer, Jerry. Front Row: Anna Wintour, the Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor-in-Chief. St. Martin's Press (2005): p215. ISBN 0312323107.
  24. ^ Ellis, Bret Easton. Less Than Zero. Vintage Comtemporaries (1998) (originally published 1984): p121, 122, 203. ISBN 0679781498.
    Ellis, Bret Easton. The Rules of Attraction. Simon & Schuster (1987): p25, 40, 122. ISBN 067162234X.
    Ellis, Bret Easton. American Psycho. Vintage (1991): p70, 71, 81, 224, 242, 257, 394. ISBN 0679735771.
  25. ^ Norris, Scott. "Boosting the Hottest Shades Under the Sun." Rochester Business Journal (Oct. 9, 1989), section 1, p10.
  26. ^ MJ. "Style Spy." GQ.com (October 2007).
  27. ^ Brown, Laura. "Mary-Kate Olsen's Singular Style". Harper's Bazaar (October 1, 2007).
  28. ^ Toulin, Alana. "The 'IT' list for 2008". The Ottawa Citizen (December 29, 2007). Available online at canada.com.
  29. ^ "Ray-Ban Wayfarer Relaunch." Wallpaper* (January 25, 2007).
  30. ^ Ray-Ban. Official website (2007). Accessed October 7, 2007.
  31. ^ a b Brown, Rachel. "A Blast from the Past at Vision Expo West". Women's Wear Daily (October 8, 2007).
  32. ^ a b Magsaysay, Melissa. "New riffs on the Wayfarer". Los Angeles Times (November 4, 2007).
  33. ^ Demasi, Laura. "Sunny outlook". The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia) (July 6, 2008).
  34. ^ Sporkin, Elizabeth. "Ray-Bans have it made in the shades." USA Today. May 6, 1987.

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