Mitch Ruda, a top optical engineer, was working on a NASA research product in the 1980s when in 1985 he had a big idea - why not apply optical and UV protection technology originating in NASA programs to men's and women's sunglasses. The idea was revolutionary, and Revo began designing and manufacturing the most advanced polarized sunglasses in the world. The key NASA technology they employed was a special coating NASA used on optical instruments on its satellites to protect them from the intense radiation common in outer space - see vintage 1980s Revo ads featuring astronaut Pete Conrad and US Olympic skiers Steve and Phil Mahre. Over the ensuing years, Revo led the way in developing the most stylish and highest quality men's and women's sunglasses found anywhere. Among Revo advances were unisex frame styles, strong and lightweight carbon fiber frames, extensive use of intricate etching on its Italian, French, and Japanese frames, mirrored lenses in all the colors of the rainbow, and advanced polarization technologies and lens including H20, Revo P (Polarcast), and LMS (Light Management System). Revo lens technology has always used multi-layered tempered glass with micro-thin layers of different coatings to provide maximum protection. Reflection off the interference coatings results made possible a range of remarkable iridescent lens colors, and the fact that they are glass affords unsurpassed visual sharpness in all light conditions. These superior lens qualities and their absorption of shortwave blue light result in enhanced contrast and sharper vision that will not distort, discolor, or overly darken your view.
Vintage Revo sunglasses produced c 1980s - 1990s were grouped into several groups known as the Revo Collections. The information below is provided from a Revo marketing brochure mid 1990s:
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- Revo Shapes Collection: Distinctive and alluring, the Revo Shapes Collection is the ideal synthesis of technology and style. The Shapes Collection offers the superior visual performance of Revo's renowned Classic lens technology in an exclusive group of frame designs that are both stylistically ambitious and technologically advanced. The lenses, made of optical-quality glass, are polished to the standards of fine cameras and telescopes. These lenses, combined with precisely stacked layers of thin film coatings, block harmful ultraviolet light - 100% UVA, UVB, & UVC - and control infrared and shortwave blue light while actually enhancing vision.
- Revo Classic Collection: The Classic Collection combines Revo proprietary multilayer coated lens technology with advanced, sport frame designs to give you "the" premium performance sunglasses designed to enhance vision in recreational sports activities. The Classic lens provides superior optics, shortwave blue light absorption, and prevents ultraviolet and infrared from reaching the eye to give complete sun protection while enhancing contrast in all kinds of light condition including fog and haze. It's a "camera quality" lens with precisely staked layers of thin film coatings.
- Revo Sport Collection: The Revo Sport Collection features revo polycarbonate LMS lens technology to give you the competitive edge. It offers unsurpassed visual enhancement with the added benefits of lightweight comfort and impact resistance.
- Revo H20 Polarized Collection: The Revo H20 Polarized Collection features Revo polarized LMS lens technology for the ultimate combination of enhanced vision and glare reduction. The H2O on the lens lets you know you have the best polarized sunglasses available, particularly suitable for fishermen and water sports people who benefit from a sunglass that cuts up to 99% of polarized glare to let you see through the surface and into the water. Thanks to a polarized treatment of the Classic Collection technology, vision is enhanced in fog, and in particular the variable light found on water.
- Revo Traveler Collection: Revo Traveler sunglasses are designed to be worn any day, every day, and in any kind of light. The Traveler collection features Tri-Band lenses, a green glass lens which has its own unique light transmission curve that peaks in green light and blocks shortwave blue light to deliver superb contrast, clarity, and complete UV and IR protection. These properties provide impeccable contrast enhancement for superb visual acuity in a wide range of light conditions, and the lenses are also hydrophobic making them easier to clean. The Traveler Collection's broad range of distinctive, California-inspired frame designs are a perfect complement to the understated Tri-Band lens. Revo Traveler Collection frames feature intricate detailing, filigree and tooled logos, and the Revo Athermic lens technology for those who prefer an understated lens appearance without compromising vision.
- Revo Competition Collection: The Revo Competition Collection feature monolens sunglass for competitive athletes, optimized for light conditions that quickly change from direct sun to deep shadow - precisely what you experience when you move at high speeds. Contrast enhancement is remarkable, weight is light, and the lens is virtually unbreakable with complete UV and infrared protection.
- Revo Degrees Collection: The Revo Degrees Collection takes sophistication and refined styling to a new plateau, by creating frames so refined that it required the development of a new, lightweight lens formulation. This advanced lens technology offers all the superb vision enhancement one expects from Revo. The precision ground lens accurately controls light transmission, permitting the optimal amount of light to pass through while blocking harmful UVA and UVB rays. To further enhance visual comfort, a multi-layer, anti-reflective, thin film coating was added to the back of the lenses.
- Revo RX: Revo LMS technology and Athermic lens technology for those with prescription needs.
Revo mirrored lenses are one of the most distinctive style features, with the most popular being stealth (a blue -silver highly reflective mirrored lens), blue, green, orange, red, and purple. Revo combined glass lens technologies with a multi-layer coating system - at least 25 micro thin layers of space age refractory oxides to screen out the sun's harmful rays while letting in much more light than any other lens - to provide the ultimate in sun protection and vision enhancement. Reflection off the interference coatings results in a range of remarkable lens colors, a by-product of the serious technology used in Revo glass lenses. The vision is distortion free because the base glass is ground and polished to the same specifications as cameral lenses, a much higher standard than even that used in prescription glasses. They provide superior visual sharpness in all light conditions, and they do not distort, discolor, or overly darken your view. They were revolutionary in their time and still are, enhancing contrast and reducing glare without sacrificing true color performance.
If you take your Revo sunglasses off and hold them at different angles, you'll notice that the surface color changes. These color differences depend on the surrounding lighting conditions, the angle at which you hold them, the color of the frames, and the particular style you're chosen. The color you see is not produced by dyes or colorations that have been added to the lenses. Instead, the hot iridescent color is solely due to coating thickness and surrounding light conditions. Variations in the coating thickness of even a millionth of an inch will produce subtle changes in how these lenses reflect their surroundings. Thus, while you can be assured that vintage Revo sunglasses will maintain their color color perspective, you can also be confident that the unique iridescence will never wear out or wear off like lens coatings.
There are so many popular vintage Revo styles that it's difficult to classify the most desirable, but many styles with tortoise shell ear stems such as Revo 962 and 1110 sunglasses have always brought some of the highest prices of any vintage sunglasses. While not universally true, most Revo composite fiber frames were made in France, most predominantly etched metal frames were made in Italy, and most frames that combine a metal front with black or tortoise shell ear stems were made in Japan. Other of the most desirable vintage Revo sunglasses styles include Revo 1111 python, 1107 with etched gunmetal frame, 953 tortoise shell line with a variety of lens colors, 973 with light and dark tortoise shell accents on top of brightly colored mirrored lens, 840 / 850 / 860 composite material styles, 967 and 970 aviator styles with some incredible etching, 1208 combining etched metal and tortoise, and the 3046 and 3047 wrap styles. Revo sunglasses were always marketed for both style and high quality optics as per their Clearly Superior and See No Evil ads that ran in the early 1990s.
Like many higher end consumer items, Revo sunglasses are extensively reproduced in Asia and cheap sunglasses and dishonest sellers will often market "Revo lenses" or "Revo lens technology." At the Vintage Sunglasses Shop, we take great care to vet every pair of vintage sunglasses we sell for period authenticity. There are various ways to identify fake Revo sunglasses if one knows what to look for. For example, our experts have seen and have a database of all the Revo styles and marks, and Revo used some very distinctive features in their frames such as certain types of hinges, marked nose pads, and the like. If you buy vintage sunglasses on auction sites, your chances of buying a fake are not insignificant.
Revo was acquired by the Luxottica conglomerate in 1999, also now the owner of many of the world's most famous brands of sunglasses including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Chanel, Versace, DKNY, and more. In our view, the quality of Revo sunglasses quickly declined with corporate ownership and a blurring of the lines with other Luxottica brands. While the new styles are fine if you like them, Vintage Designer Sunglasses focuses its attention on Revo styles and models produced c 2000 and earlier. The unique and eclectic frame styles produced during this period coupled with the most significant advances in Revo lens technology easily explain why these vintage Revo sunglasses styles often sell for higher prices than brand new Revos.
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