While shades have existed in some form since the 1300s, it wasn't until the 1930s that the sunglasses craze took hold, as more and more Americans and Europeans went on beach vacations. In fact, Sam Foster sold the first modern-day shades, a pair of Foster Grants, on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1929. This trend exploded in the following decades as Hollywood stars and fashion icons such as Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis hid behind glamorous sunglasses, made by the likes of Persol and Emilio Pucci.
Men, meanwhile, took to wire-framed Ray-Ban "aviator" sunglasses favored by World War II heroes such as George S. Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur—this straight-laced military look was later popularized by counter-culture rockers such as Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. In the 1930s, the U.S. military commissioned Bausch & Lomb to make UV-blocking shades, and the company's Ray-Ban aviator glasses debuted in 1936, with anti-glare polarized-lens technology, invented by Edwin H. Land, of the Polaroid Corporation. In 1948, the first mirror-faced aviator sunglasses hit the scene, offering even greater protection from the sun, as well as the ability to watch people in secret.
Thanks to their air of mystery, dark shades became a symbol of cool detachment for beatniks and '50s jazz musicians. Perhaps the most iconic sunglass design is Ray-Ban's Wayfarer, launched in 1952, with its signature chunky frame. Mod and hippie fashions of the '60s demanded more whimsy, and John Lennon favored tiny tinted wire-framed spectacles called "teashades." Depending on the style, sunglasses came to signal urban sophistication, nefarious intent, or inscrutable intellect. Later fashionable looks like those by Alpina, Vuarnet, and Oakley originated as protective gear for athletes. Coveted vintage sunglasses include designs by Neostyle, Paloma Picasso, Oliver Peoples, Revo, Cazal, Matsuda, and Carrera Porsche.
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Street Styles From AsiaWall Street Journal, January 25th
Fashion Folks top, Zara shorts, Windsor Smith shoes, Balenciaga bag. Jo Stevens for The Wall Street Journal. … Harajuku, TOKYO. Archie Griffiths, model. River Island jacket and jeans, Uniqlo sweater, Topman shoes, vintage sunglasses. Steve West for...Read more
Shady businessSydney Morning Herald, December 4th
Shapiro finds many of his vintage sunglasses through deceased estates. In some cases, one individual may have owned numerous pairs. "I've seen dressing-room drawers literally filled with sunglasses. They're often slightly heavier than the ones made...Read more
Five of our favourite vintage sunglasses!My Fashion Life, August 4th
What would you say if we told you that you could get your hands and eyes on a pair of vintage sunglasses from the good old days? We don't think you'd know what to say as you'd be too excited, so take a look at five pairs of vintage sunglasses currently...Read more
Best BetsNew York Magazine, June 29th
How to Buy Vintage Sunglasses Three tips from J. Kirby Harris, owner of Vintage Optical, popping up at the Annex Markets lot (W. 25th St. nr. Broadway) weekends in late July. (Photo: Courtest of the vendor). 1. Do the optician check. “Inspect the...Read more
Fendi goes trendy, creates futuristic vintage sunglassesIndia Today, November 8th
Italian fashion house Fendi will tap the talent of French designer Thierry Lasry to design its Spring/Summer 2015 capsule sunglass collection. Over the past couple of years, building on the concept of "futuristic vintage", fusing vintage inspirations...Read more
15 Unique Vintage SunglassesCare2.com, July 15th
So this week, I wanted to roundup the best of the best vintage sunglasses! If you dig the list but want to buy local, try scooping out your local thrift shop for options or Googling your town name + “vintage sunglasses” to see if you happen to have a...Read more
The Hux Hour Presents: Vintage Alpina M1 SunglassesYouTube, February 6th
The Vintage Frames Company presents a new weekly series called The Hux Hour. Each week join Davon as he takes you through the history of his choice frames. For week two, he explores the infamous Vintage Alpina M1 Sunglasses. Let us know what you ...Read more
Jeremih & The Vintage Frames Company: Private Vintage Sunglasses ...YouTube, August 30th
Jeremih summons the crew of The Vintage Frames Company to roll through Toronto to get him dipped in some Vintage Sunglasses and Vintage Chains. Corey Shapiro (Vintage Frames Company) and the whole team rolls out to Toronto to set Jeremih up with ...Read more