Sunglasses History 



It is a pretty safe statement to make that fashion influences and trends throughout history have strongly shaped the eyewear industry you see today. These two sectors are jointly related and really feed off each other to cultivate new statement-making styles that become adopted by society as a whole. This, in conjunction with iconic public figures wearing celebrity sunglasses that become craved by others, all play a massive role in why eyewear has manifested so well, really withstanding the tests of time.


Where Eyewear Influences Began

 First ever sunglasses

Developed initially as a visual aid for both the sun and vision impairments, eyewear has been seen throughout history, serving more than just supportive function. It has been a fashionable accessory, truly demonstrating symbols of status and other desirable qualities that promote individuality and empowerment. Though it has been this way all throughout history, this reality substantially took off in the 20th century, transforming into not only an added aesthetic piece to a style, but becoming a necessity to complete it. Sunglass fashion, and glasses in general, became a vehicle for design, genuinely opening the doors for individual expression, physical appearance enhancing.


But why? How come something that was made for practical reasons turned into a fashion trend, riding the same fashion wave as the rest of the industry?


Celebrities, Public figures, and Influencers


Celebrities, public figures, and influencers all play a vital role in society. They are role models, featured continuously in the public, and are rooted driving factors in why fashion has evolved as much as it has. Overall, these individuals have millions of people look up to them and find fashion inspiration in their unique styles, and that includes sunglass fashion. When celebrity sunglasses are being promoted, there is bound to be a skyrocket in that particular style.


For example, in the 1960s, when Audrey Hepburn put on the now famous cat-eye sunglasses in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's," she created a long-term trend from that moment on. In fact, many people refer to the cat-eye sunglasses style as the Audrey Hepburn sunglasses. But she was not the only one. Take Grace Kelly in 1956. Before and after marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco, she wore black sunglasses, which became her signature style. Those sunglasses were, and still are, a strong influencer in vintage sunglass fashion styles today.

These are past references, but celebrities and well-known people in the spotlight in the present still hold that same power to shift fashion in impressive ways. And it would not be right to assume that sunglasses and fashion grew without their pushes. For reference, here is what is currently hot and who started it.


Brow-line Sunglasses: Kim Kardashian

Brow-line Glasses Kylie Jenner

Mirrored Sunglasses: Olivia Palermo

Mirrored Sunglasses Olivia Palermo

Round Sunglasses: Rita Ora

Round Sunglasses: Rita Ora

Bright /Bold Sunglasses: Paris Hilton

Bright /Bold Sunglasses: Paris Hilton

Aviator Sunglasses: George Clooney


Square Sunglasses: Kris Jenner

Oversized Sunglasses: Nicole Richie


From Function to Fashion


Everyone knows that the primary reason for sunglasses was to block out UV light to protect your eyes. That is a given, and the primary function of these products. But somewhere along the lines, sunglasses became so popular that they started to shift to become more fashion-oriented than function.


Crookes lenses were introduced in 1913. They were made from glass that contained cerium. Then in the early 1920s, sunglass fashion really began taking off as demand became more widespread, especially amongst movie stars. Though as popular as they were becoming function wise, eyewear influences in regards to fashion did not take off until the 1930s, when Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis were seen wearing them. This was the period when sunglasses began being referred to as a glamour statement, featuring the high life for both men and women, and the race to have a taste of that life launched.


In 1938, sunglasses sales went from tens of thousands to the millions, nearly overnight. And with that came the innovation to come up with new colors and styles to keep that flame hot and evolving. These celebrity sunglasses began being marketed in street clothing, beachwear, Vogue styles, to leisure activities that really resembled them as a fun fashion accessory that can complement any look.


Fashion Influences on Eyewear


Between the quality of sunglasses upgrading and lens protection being more secure than in the past, styles have also been shifting to really prioritize style. After all, that is what society wants, and sunglasses manufacturers strive to fulfill that demand. And they do so by staying updated with fashion as it evolves throughout time.


To give you some insight, in the early 1980s, the harder-edged styles with the bright and black colors (coinciding with Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer style), was on a high with the Blues Brothers. This resulted in heavy, black sunglasses that harmonized with that era’s strive for “power dressing” in flashy styles. Sunglasses came in odd, futuristic shapes to reflect this new wave of celebrity fashion. In another light, mirrored aviator styles (revived several times) started the craze for those iridescent mirrored lenses. This resulted in fashion in general following along, both working together simultaneously to fulfill the new fashion influence desires. You also cannot forget about the late 1980s and 1990s, when minimalism became popular. Industrial design became prominent, and this fashion alteration led to the pared-down fashion, from hairstyles, designer themes, and of course, clean-lined/sleek frames that featured meticulous detailing.


As the digital age of 2020 is more dominant than ever, vintage sunglasses are still highly sought out, but it did not stop the revolutionizing impact on modern sunglasses as well.

Today, technology advances, and that clean, sharp, future appeal tapped into the eyewear market, creating new styles that showcase cameras, GPS, and phone technology, all while still performing their initial UV protective function.


Conclusion - More of a Style Need than a Medical Need


Black, blue, white, brown, purple, yellow, and every other color in between, there is bound to be a sunglass frame that targets every style you can imagine. It is so versatile that it can fulfill any look someone is going for, and that in and of itself is why sunglasses are an excellent addition.


The diverse range of sunglasses today, as well as in the past, all still perform the same function that they were intended to right from the very beginning. However, along the way, and with the immense fashion influences from celebrities throughout time, these functional products became fashion masterpieces. They have intertwined with the fashion realm so well that both clothing, shoe, and hair designers all work together with eyewear influences (and vice versa) to really construct the next big statement-making trends.


In summary, it is certainly not a bad thing that sunglasses have grown to become the fashion accessory that it is today, but it is quite amazing to see just how strongly celebrities and public figures can steer how fashion will transform. From witnessing the past all the way up to where it has come today in the fashion world, it is clear that sunglasses are not going anywhere any time soon. But one thing is for sure, they will continue to evolve and influence.




Always remember, thought trends, styles, and popularity are all realities you may live in, never feel obligated to go with the flow. That is the beauty about fashion and eyewear influences; you can be creative and express your individuality any way you wish. As long as you are happy and showcasing who you are the way you want, then that is all that matters.


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