RAY-BAN “NEVER HIDE”

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Ray-Ban did never hide itself. From 1937 until nowadays it’s influenced as much the ‘celebrity-culture’ as the underground one, always renewing itself – both in the technical and design innovations – becoming an eyewear icon par excellence. Let’s step back; it’s the ’30s and Bausch & Lomb forges sunglasses with green anti-glare lenses for the US Air Force aviators, so Ray-Ban and the very first ‘Aviator’ were born. The following year the brand launches the ‘Shooter’ with ‘Kalichrome’ lenses and the famous ‘cigarette-holder’ middle circle, and in ’38 it strikes again with the ‘Outdoorsman’, for hunters-fishers. In the ’40s, then, US Air Force re-refers to Ray-Ban (that developes some newnesses, like gradient mirror lenses) but also ordinary people look for the products of the label, already smart in that time in jumping from ‘military function to pop-fashion’. After WWII, the brand empowers its appeal and lands to the cinema, infact ’52 is the year of the unmistakable ‘Wayfarer’ (remember J.Dean in ‘Rebel without a cause’?), the ’53 of the ‘Signet’ and ‘G-15’ grey lens, while in ’57 it comes to light the ‘Caravan’ (made popular by R.De Niro in ‘Taxi Driver’) and in ’58 the first fair sex line. During the ’60s and their change zeitgeist, Ray-Ban in turn ‘refreshes itself’ further, almost increasing fourhold its accessories in ’69 and becoming internationally venerated for style and quality – both of its sunglasses and of their fine packagings.

Plus, the more Ray-Ban cranks out new styles, the more Hollywood falls in love with them; so the ‘Olympian I and II’ (from ’65) are worn by P.Fonda in ‘Easy Rider’, and the ‘Balorama’ (’68) by C.Eastwood in a ‘Dirty Harry’ movie, from that era we also remember the ‘Meteor’ and ‘Laramie’… In the ’70s the label adapts to the market – two paths; sport and fashion – and if on one side it gives a boost to the ‘Vagabond’ and ‘Stateside’ (with ‘G-31’ or ‘G-15’ lenses) on the other it creates mountaineering glasses (mirrored lenses) in ’74 juxtaposing to its sunglasses offering a prescription eyewear one as well, with photochromic ‘Ambermatic’ lenses (especially good for winter sports). In the ’80s the ‘Wayfarer’ are back on stage thanks to the movies ‘Blues Brothers’ and ‘Risky Business’, besides the ‘Aviator’ with ‘Top Gun’ (two styles also tied to the king of pop, M.Jackson), and in the ’90s too Ray-Ban proves to be the most loved by the cinema; the ‘Clubmaster’ is in sight in ‘Malcolm X’ and ‘Reservoir dogs’, like so the ‘Predator’ in ‘Men in black’ and the ‘Shooter’ in ‘Fear and loathing in Las Vegas’. Near the decade end, in ’99, Luxottica acquires the Bausch & Lomb frames biz, and Ray-Ban gets ready to write a new page of its story, made of style and function innovations, about which we all know the main characters. Later on, in 2003 the label signs the ‘Optical’ and ‘Junior’ lines (ad hoc gimmicks for protection and aesthetic) and in 2006 it revamps the ‘Wayfarer’ through photographer M.Rock and the pics-series ‘Ray-Ban Uncut: The Wayfarer Session’ (with several indie guests). The following year the label goes big in NY with the ‘NEVER HIDE’ interactive campaign (the fans in the spotlight), in 2008 with the ‘Ray-Ban Remasters’ multimedia collabos and in 2009 with ‘Never Hide Colorize’ (kit with white ‘Wayfarer’ to be customized) the colour palette of which is extended by the ‘Rare Prints’ series, inspired by pop trends and divided into ‘Comic’ and ‘Button Pins’ lines. Soon after, the brand highlights its leadership thanks to the ‘Tech Carbon Fiber’ collection (sturdy yet lightweight) and to the ‘P3’ and ‘P3 Plus’ lenses (super polarization and definition). In 2010 the ‘Aviator’ comes in style once again, then in 2011 it arises the ‘Ray-Ban Light Ray’, a new sunglass and prescription eyewear line that expands the ‘Tech’ collection (hypoallergenic titanium and interchangeable lenses), thereafter the brand puts back in the limelight its iconic models; so the ‘Cats 1000 and 5000’, ‘Round’, ‘Meteor’ and ‘Laramie’ live anew in a modern viewpoint. Still in 2011 the ‘NEVER HIDE’ claim re-commands attention worldwide, and the label doesn’t stop to study-enhance the technological solutions that made it great; a recent advance is the incorporation of the ‘LiteForce’ thermoplastic material into the ‘Aviator’, for top strength and flexibility. Two qualities that – together with style and performance – made Ray-Ban an ageless classic, in a neverending story, and so they’ll keep on doing. Grabbing our eyes on the side – never hide.