1970s Sunglasses

There was plenty of innovation in the design and quality of sunglasses in the 1970s. Leaving the 1960s behind when outrageous styles of sunglasses often took precedence over good design and high quality optics, the 70's saw the introduction of Carrera and Revo sunglasses to join Bausch & Lomb (B&L) as another 2 quality makers of fine designer sunglasses. While Carreras were innovative in the design of the 5621 and 5623 frames which allowed for interchangeable lenses of different colors, Revo introduced the most significant advances in sunglasses' optical quality and UV protection since B&L had done so with their classic aviator sunglasses and G-15 lens. Revo introduced highly reflective mirrored sunglasses in a variety of colors, and their intricately designed and etched metal frames were unlike anything that had been seen before. Some sunglass manufacturers in the 1970s including Carrera began using lenses made out of a new plastic called Optyl instead of the traditional mineral glass lenses used prior in high quality sunglasses. The use of optyl lenses also had an ancillary benefit in tthat they were much lighter than glass lenses. As such, sunglass designs could become much larger - as evidenced in the Carrera Porsche Design sunglasses and numerous of the women's designer brands who introduced oversized sunglasses in a variety of frame shapes and colors.


The later 1970s also saw the introduction of photochromatic sunglasses with lenses that would intelligently change color to improve vision in varying light conditions and eventually in different temperatures as well. The most famous of the early photochromatic sunglasses were the B&L Ray-Ban Ambermatic sunglasses. B&L introduced these both in a classic aviator sunglasses model and also in the shooter / outdoorsman style that had wire ear stems that curved around the ear for a secure fit in active pursuits. At this time, Ray-Ban also came out with the famous "bullet hole" frame that had a round hole directly above the nose and are still avidly sought by collectors today.


Finally, sunglasses design was shaken up in the late 1970s by Oakley, started by James Jannard in 1975 in his garage with an initial investment of $300. The name Oakley came from Jannard's dog, an English Setter. Jannard began by selling what he called 'The Oakley Grip' out of the back of his car at motocross events. His motorcycle grips were unlike other grips riders had seen at the time. The material used to make the grips was called "Unobtanium," a unique creation by Jannard that would get a tacky grip to it when it would become wet rather than slipping out of the riders hand. From this start, Oakley soon began to design and produce sunglasses, many of which would incorporate the use of Unobtanium in advanced frame shapes. However, it was for the frame designs themselves that Oakley became most famous, unique and extreme wrap shapes that curved around the head and eyes to provide more complete protection from sunlight, wind, and rain. Other makes including Revo began making wrap sunglasses soon afterward, variations on a theme that Jannard first introduced at Oakley but innovative and eclectic in their own right.


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

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