Aviator style sunglasses were among the first sunglasses ever manufactured. Initially invented in 1936, they were adopted by the US military in 1937 as their go-to eye protection for air-force pilots. Initially crafted as a sleek, yet practical way to protect the sun from the eyes, Aviators were made to be especially light, while still being protective of one’s eyesight. Original Aviators were crafted with mineral glass, which was revolutionary for filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
Aviators officially became famous after General Douglas MacArthur amongst others was photographed sporting the trendy new sunglasses after landing on a beach in the Philippines during the second world war. After seeing their war heroes sporting slick sunglasses, the general american populace became enamored with the style, and the glasses became a hit among civilians in addition to military personnel.
Fast forwarding to the modern era, aviators have changed very little, yet still remain highly popular. Aviator lens styles traditionally feature a large, bold, tear-drop shaped lens framed by a thin metal frame. Modified aviators often have rimless lenses, or thicker plastic lens types, although traditional aviators still remain more popular than modified styles. Lenses are typically polarized, and come in all different colors, including mirrored, black, gunmetal, colored, and gradient styles. Aviator frames are almost always silver or gold, although occasional painted metal frames are used as well. While Ray-Ban invented the aviator styling, most designer brands also manufacture aviator style sunglasses.
Aviators like many other iconic sunglasses have been popularized by movie stars and famous musicians. Unlike other eyewear however, aviators can also attribute some of their popularity to the military and american fighter pilots. The 1990’s film “Top Gun” is perhaps a good reference to both the military and hollywood popularity of the iconic sunglass design.
Aviators are worn by both men as well as women, and have been known to portray a sense of “cool”, “calm” and are generally consider classic sunglasses with a bit of a retro feel. Aviators have been in style for over seventy years, and are unlikely to go out of style any time soon, so you can be confident that purchasing aviator sunglasses won’t be a passing trend.