Not Just Another… Pair of Sunglasses
Here in Australia we’ve got a special need for sunglasses. Long summers characterised by surf, beaches and barbies are staples of the Australian way of life. We have some of the highest and most consistent temperatures on earth and we’ve also got a great big hole in the ozone layer above us. Sunglasses have become a very stylish necessity.
Designs and products are very often referred to as ‘classic and timeless’, in the case of sunglasses this is actually closer to the truth than most. The earliest recorded examples of sunglasses date back to the classical period. Everybody’s favourite matricidal pyromaniac, Nero, watched the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome through a pair of polished lenses. Whilst across in China, judges used smoky quartz glasses to hide their expressions in court. These early adopters were certainly innovators, but this eyewear of old did little to protect against anything other than glare.
Sunglasses have cropped up in the centuries since. Yellow tinted lenses were prescribed in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat syphilis, due to the disease causing light sensitivity. The modern form and usage of sunglasses however, didn’t really hit its stride until movie stars started framing their faces in the early 20th century and they didn’t go truly mainstream until Sam Foster found a market for cheap, mass-produced lenses in the 1920s. Ray-Ban hit the scene in the early 30s, and once a Life magazine piece sang this new fashions praises in 1938, people began scooping them up in droves.
Styles and shapes have drifted in and out of fashion over the course of the 20th century, but a great many of the first forms have stood the test of time. The Wayfarer remains an immensely popular style and is virtually unchanged since its 1956 debut. Ray-ban has remained a front runner in the field, and many of their original designs have endured. The eyewear of JFK and Buddy Holly can be seen today on Beckham and Pitt.
With time has come affordability, and today you can scoop up a pair of sturdy and effective shades for an astoundingly low price. Design patents on these timeless styles have long since expired and the market for competitively priced sunglasses has never been stronger. What’s more, it’s still a great area for experimentation and putting a twist on an old classic, as our partners are doing today. When it comes to sunnies, you can’t really go wrong.