The golden age of sunglasses for both styling and optical quality innovation occured during the middle to later years of the 20th century, from the early 1960s through the 1990s. During each decade, sunglasses styles evolved to represent the feelings of the times and the market was dominated by smaller and more nimble companies as well as major new market entrants during each decade. Legacy designers such as B&L Ray-Ban continued and even accelerated their innovations during these years, introducing many optical innovations including Kalichrome, Ambermatic, and G-15 lenses that carried on Bausch & Lomb's history of innovation since the Ray-Ban brand was first created for the line of aviator sunglasses B&L designed for the U.S. military. At the same time, new names entered the market that changed the game in their own unique ways such as Revo with its colorful mirrored lens sunglasses and Oakley with their extreme wrap shapes. New materials such as optyl plastic and manufacturing techniques enabled sunglass design to become larger and oversized, and with that newfound artistic license companies like Carrera as well as French design houses such as Dior, Chanel, Gucci, and YSL all introduced their own sunglasses lines.
The staff at the Vintage Sunglasses Shop has compiled a history of sunglasses design during the later years of the 20th century where we try to capture the significant developments and innovations in sunglasses during the years of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.