Ray-Ban has been making shades since 1937 when they were birthed as a company to fashion make glasses for the US Army Air Corps. Ray-Ban was literally born to make aviators: the ultimate sunglass style that still holds its place as the single-coolest shaded look around.
The glasses were initially manufactured by request of a pilot named Lt. John MacCready, who embarked on a hot air balloon flight that ended up doing permanent damage to his eyesight from over-exposure to the intense rays of the sun at the balloon’s high altitude.
Pilots were looking for shades from the rays that would protect all angles of their eyes and peripheral vision and the result became the aviator. First built in plate-gold frames and green mineral glass lenses, the look would become chiseled into American Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion forever when General MacArthur was heavily photographed wearing them when landing on the beach in the Philippines in World War II.
But the Ray-Ban aviators aren’t just a military or Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion accessory; they saturate just about every avenue of pop culture. Celebrities from all walks of fame are photographed rocking Ray-Ban aviators all the time, anyone from Lenny Kravitz to Kristin Cavallari can pull off the totally shady look.
Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer made them famous in the iconic 80s classic movie Top Gun, and even Sylvester Stallone incorporated a badass element to the aviator sporting them in the movie Cobra. Pair ‘em up with a leather jacket and you’re good to get into just about any rock club in the country.
Maybe it’s the bulk, maybe it’s the fact that you’re forbidden from making almost anything but a stone-faced expression while wearing a nice pair of flight-friendly Ray-Bans. But whatever the appeal, Ray-Ban aviators don’t just accent pilots, Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle or fashion sense—they’re definitely an effective way to hide the fact that you were out late at a smoky bar checking out a band the night before.