Ray-Ban Wayfarer: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Wayfarers" redirects here. For other uses, see Wayfarer.
Classic 1980s Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses (B&L5022)

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. 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[1][2] (although Ray-Ban Aviators have also been credited with this achievement[3]) and have been called a classic of modern design[4] and one of the most enduring fashion icons of the 20th century.[5]


Design and early popularity

Figure 1, US design patent #169,995. Patent granted July 7, 1953, and assigned to Bausch and Lomb by Raymond F.E. Stegeman.[6]

Wayfarers were designed in 1952 by optical designer Raymond Stegeman,[7][8] who procured dozens of patents for Bausch and Lomb, Ray-Ban's parent company.[9] The design was a radically new shape, "a mid-century classic to rival Eames chairs and Cadillac tail fins."[7] 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.'"[7] Wayfarers, which took advantage of new plastic molding technology,[4][7] marked the transition between a period of eyewear with thin metal frames and an era of plastic eyewear.

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.[7] Though Wayfarers were worn in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers,[10] only 18,000 pairs were sold in 1981,[11] and Wayfarers were on the verge of discontinuation.[12]

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.[11] (Between 1982 and 1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and television shows per year;[11] Ray-Ban's product placement efforts have continued through 2007.[13]) 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.[11] By 1986, after appearances in Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and The Breakfast Club, sales had reached 1.5 million.[11] Wayfarers rose to popularity among musicians, including Michael Jackson,Johnny Marr,[14] Blondie's Debbie Harry,[14] Madonna, Elvis Costello,[14] Morrissey, [15] and members of U2,[14] and among other celebrities such as Jack Nicholson[16] and even Anna Wintour.[17] Bret Easton Ellis' fiction often name-dropped references to Wayfarers,[18] 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,[19] and Wayfarers were the decade's sunglasses of choice.[20]

1990s decline and 2001 redesign

Ray-Ban New Wayfarer sunglasses (RB2132 901L)

As the 1990s began, the frames again became unpopular.[21] The 1950s revival that fueled the glasses' popularity in the 1980s had lost steam, and Wayfarers were outcompeted by wraparound frames.[21] 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.[21] 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).[21]

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.[22][23] Ray-Ban designers soon noticed that vintage Wayfarers were commanding high prices on eBay,[21] and the 2007 re-introduction of the original Wayfarer design aimed to respond to the demand.[14][21][24] (As of 2007, Wayfarers were available in Original Wayfarer, New Wayfarer, and Wayfarer Folding styles.[25]) 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.[10] Sales in 2007 were 231% greater than in 2006 at Selfridge's London;[8] as of October 2007, the Wayfarer was the Luxottica Group's third-best-selling style.[26] As of July 2008, sales had increased 40% over 2007.[8] As of 2008, the Wayfarer model is available in a wide variety of colours and patterns.

Similar models and myths

Audrey Hepburn wearing sunglasses in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's
John F. Kennedy wearing sunglasses while on vacation at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, August 1963.

Ray-Ban made a number of models that looked similar to the Wayfarer style, such as the "Myth" and the "Meteor".[27] By the 1960s many manufacturers of sunglasses made shades that were clearly inspired by the Ray-Ban line.

In the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn wore oversized sunglasses that resemble the Wayfarer model quite a bit and are often mistaken for the real thing by people unfamiliar with the details of the original design. This is a quite common phenomenon. Other people who prominently wore sunglasses resembling Wayfarers are John F. Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and Roy Orbison.

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".[28] 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'".[28] 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's 2008 lines.[26] Between July and September 2008, retailers began selling frameless Wayfarers.[29]

In 2009, Oakley released the Wayfarer-inspired "Jupiter" model.


  1. ^ everybody guess it 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).
  2. ^ Hambling, David. Weapons Grade: How Modern Warfare Gave Birth to Our High-Tech World. Carroll & Graf Publishers (2006): p69. ISBN 0786717696.
  3. ^ Sporkin, Elizabeth. "Ray-Bans have it made in the shades." USA Today. May 6, 1987.
  4. ^ a b Delap, Leanne. "I wear my sunglasses at night". The Globe and Mail (July 12, 2008).
  5. ^ Derrick, Gabrielle. "The world's favorite shades turn 40". The Age (October 3, 1993).
  6. ^ Stegeman, Raymond F.E. Front for Spectacle Frames. US Patent #169,995.
  7. ^ a b c d e Bayley, Stephen. "Notes & Theories: Through a Pair of Glasses Darkly." The Independent on Sunday (June 18, 2006).
  8. ^ a b c Walker, Esther. "Geeky but chic". Independent Extra (July 3, 2008).
  9. ^ Google patent search for Raymond Stegeman. 70 of 72 patents issued to Stegeman were assigned to Bausch and Lomb.
  10. ^ a b Brunelli, Richard. "Ray-Ban Wayfarers: Made in the Shade". Adweek (October 1, 2007).
  11. ^ a b c d e Leinster, Colin. "A Tale of Mice and Lens." Fortune (September 28, 1987).
  12. ^ August, Melissa et al. "Through A Glass Darkly." Time (July 12, 1999).
  13. ^ 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).
  14. ^ a b c d e Hirschlag, Jennifer. "Ray-Ban Tunes in to a New Generation." Women's Wear Daily (November 13, 2006).
  15. ^ Chilvers, Simon. "You've been framed". The Guardian (May 30, 2008).
  16. ^ Spade, Kate. Style. Simon and Schuster (2004), p66. ISBN 0743250672.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Norris, Scott. "Boosting the Hottest Shades Under the Sun." Rochester Business Journal (Oct. 9, 1989), section 1, p10.
  20. ^ MJ. "Style Spy." GQ.com (October 2007).
  21. ^ a b c d e f Rushton, Susie. "Dark Star." The Independent. (April 16, 2007.)
  22. ^ Brown, Laura. "Mary-Kate Olsen's Singular Style". Harper's Bazaar (October 1, 2007).
  23. ^ Toulin, Alana. "The 'IT' list for 2008". The Ottawa Citizen (December 29, 2007). Available online at canada.com.
  24. ^ "Ray-Ban Wayfarer Relaunch." Wallpaper (January 25, 2007).
  25. ^ Ray-Ban. Official website (2007). Accessed October 7, 2007.
  26. ^ a b Brown, Rachel. "A Blast from the Past at Vision Expo West". Women's Wear Daily (October 8, 2007).
  27. ^ Vintage Ray-Ban ad [1]
  28. ^ a b Magsaysay, Melissa. "New riffs on the Wayfarer". Los Angeles Times (November 4, 2007).
  29. ^ Demasi, Laura. "Sunny outlook". The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia) (July 6, 2008).

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address