The History of Aviator Sunglasses
Bausch & Lomb is well known today for their eye health products such as contact lenses, and some even consider them to be the brains behind aviator style sunglasses. Like many of Bausch & Lomb products, aviators started as a medical necessity for pilots flying combat planes during the First World War, but the actual aviator shape as we know it today was not developed until 1936.
As these glasses were issued, they quickly became known as “Aviators” and soon, every pilot was wearing them. Soon outdoor sportsmen began to purchase these sunglasses as a luxury item to take while hunting and fishing. They found that due to the shape of the sunglasses it didn’t seem to matter what direction they were looking in — their eyes remained shaded.
Hollywood picked up on it and leading men began to wear them in motion pictures about the war.
Hollywood picked up on this and television shows and films about police officers began using the aviators.
Tom Cruise wearing aviators in Top Gun
Liking the style, many of Hollywood’s leading men and women began to wear aviators off the set and at award shows or just out on the town. Then, in 1986, the aviator style became a hardened part of Americana with the blockbuster release of Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in the lead, aviator-wearing roles. Since then, the style has become synonymous with American sunglass culture. Although there have been some peaks and valleys in the trend, the glasses are just as popular today as they ever have been.