I bet a lot of you guys and gals out there thought that Tom Cruise invented Aviator sunglasses. Well you are wrong. But don’t feel too bad, I thought the same thing myself and I am supposed to be the 80s expert over here.
The Aviator RB3025 “Pilot shades” were actually developed in 1937 by a little know company called Ray-Ban at the request of Lieutenant John MacCready. Lieutenant MacCready was concerned about the permanent damage that the sun had done to his eyes after a balloon flying expedition. He asked Ray-Ban to create a pair of sunglasses that would minimize the eyes exposure to the sun without cramping his Mack Daddy sense of style.
The Ray-Ban Aviators first became popular when newspapers published General Douglas MacArthur wearing his shades on the beach in the Philippines in World War II. As much as General MacArthur contributed to the popularity of the Aviators, no man can come close to the contribution made by one Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. That’s right I said it.
After saving the Ray-Ban Wayfarers, from the brink of discontinuation, by wearing them in “Risky Business”, Tom Cruise followed that up with a little movie called “Top Gun.” After the release of the movie in 1986, Aviator sales went up by 40%. In my opinion, Tom Cruise wearing a bomber jacket and a pair of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses is one of the most recognizable looks of the 80s. Please be sure to remember to make your hair look as wet as possible when you wear that ensemble outside the house. Otherwise, people will think you are just plain crazy.
Many of you have probably noticed that Aviator sunglasses have come back with a vengeance in the past couple of years. Nowadays you can get them in white, mirrored, striped, made by Gucci, Armani, Fendi or your neighborhood supermarket (I guess Ray-Ban did not splurge on a good patent lawyer). There are many variations available but none of them can ever compare to the elegance of the original Ray-Ban 3025 design.
So go out there and wear your Aviators with pride but always remember that you would never had the opportunity to look this bad ass if it wasn’t for Lieutenant John MacCready and Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.