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1980s Sunglasses

The use of the new plastic Optyl continued to expand in the sunglasses industry in the 1980s, with companies like Carrera benefiting by offering larger than normal sunglasses with interchangeable lenses and in a variety of colors. The use of plastic lenses versus the traditional mineral glass lenses, begun in the 1970s, became the de facto norm in much of the industry in the 1980s with notable exceptions like Revo, Persol, and B&L Bausch & Lomb. Most major clothing designers of the time such as Dior introduced sunglasses collections during the 1980s as plastic lenses greatly expanded their ability to create elaborate and oversized sunglass designs. At the same time, the makers who were still focusing on sunglasses with traditional glass lenses didn't sit still. B&L introduced new lens technologies such as "Diamond Hard" lenses that were virtually impossible to scratch and were noted with a small diamond etched in the lens near the Ray-Ban logo. Makers of skiwear also began to look at the braoder sunglasses market including Vuarnet (introduced skilynx sunglasses), Bolle (Spectra Acrylex), and Alpina (M1 and M3 racing sunglasses).

 

At the other extreme, Cari Zalloni of German sunglasses maker Cazal designed flashy yet high quality sunglasses that were widely adopted by celebrities who in turn helped to extend the reach of the brand. Cazal sunglasses were particularly popular with the emerging hip-hop and rap pioneers of the music industry, a sunglass maker and music genre association that continues to this day. Oversized sunglasses continued to become more and more oversized in the 1980s, reaching extrremes with celebrities like Elton John but adopted across all segments of women's sunglasses. In fact, oversized sunglasses from thsi period are sometimes referred to as "Onassis glasses" or "Jackie O's" because they looked like the oversized sunglasses worn and made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. First introduced in the late 1970s, Revo mirrored sunglasses with blue, green, red, purple, orange, and stealth mirrored lenses became wildly popular in the 1980s and remain so today. The Revo mirrored lens coating was an alternative to polarization to protect the eyes in that the mirror deflects some of the light off the lens so it is not transmitted on to the eyes, making it particularly useful in bright conditions. However, it is important to note that the mirrored lens does not necessarily reflect UV radiation as well, and cheap mirrored sunglasses are essentially worthless when it comes to UV protection. Other benefits of optical quality mirrored lenses such as Revos - which pioneered the mirroring techniques used in the NASA space program - include the fact that they can be made in a rainbow of colors to expand the fashion possibilities (as nobody has done better than revo) and they do not get hot in sunlight.

 

Traditional sunglass makers like B&L Ray-Ban were still going strong in the 1980s, getting incredible brand exposure from celebrities such as Tom Cruise who wore Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses in the 1983 film Risky Business and the 1986 film Top Gun. Wayfarers wrere worn by many celebrities in the 1980s who made the Wayfarer brand iconic for all time - Don Johnson in Miami Vice, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, Madonna, Debbie Harry, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Jack Nicholson. As if Ray-Ban Wayfarers didn't already have enough exposure, Don Henley's 1984 song The Boys Of Summer had the lyric "You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby". Ray-Ban's Wayfarer sunglasses expanded from 2 models in 1981 to more than 40 models in 1989. Oakley innovation also hit a peak in the 1980s with the 1980 introduction of Oakley O-Frame sunglasses, and sports figures in particular bean to take notice of the brand. In 1984, Oakley introduced Eyeshade sunglasses which were made of plastic and featured removable lenses; this is the style worn by Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and other professional cyclists. Oakley continued to introduce new models of sunglasses including Blades, Razor Blades, Frogskins, and Mumbos.

 

Sunglasses Styles By Decade: 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s


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