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Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 10.34.54 PMRay-Ban Wayfarers are iconic sunglasses today. They are seen to be hip, while at the same time having a touch of antiquity. This image is most certainly true, for the Wayfarers were designed first by Raymond Stegeman, way back in 1952. Today, a revamped version with most of the characteristics as the original remains popular amongst the public.

Falling out of fashion

In ’52, Stegeman’s first design was an instant hit. They were among the first pair of plastic-framed sunglasses available in the country. The Wayfarer had a great run for about two decades. Come the ‘70s though, the design lost popularity. Surprisingly, it lost out on market share to one of Ray-Ban’s own designs, the Aviator.

Aviator styled sunglasses charts showed sky-high results, especially after they were seen in the popular television cop series ‘CHIPS’. The Wayfarer, on the other hand, was on the verge of discontinuation. Even iconic musicians started sporting the Aviator look, like Slash, from Guns ‘n’ Roses, painting a desolate picture for the once-famous plastic design.

The comeback kid

Taking the low sales in stride, the company devised a marketing strategy that would put the Wayfarer brand back on the map. Ray-Ban signed a $50,000-a-year contract with UPP of Burbank, CA in 1982.

Suddenly, Wayfarer designs were heavily advertised in popular cinema and television. Risky Business, License to Drive, Miami Vice and MoonLighting were among the many shows the design appeared on. Thanks to the huge success of Ray-Ban’s marketing, music artists like Michael Jackson and Billy Joel were spotted in Wayfarers too.

A short victory

Sadly, the expensive victory was not very long-lived. With the onset of the ‘90s, ‘Wraparounds’ were the next big thing; and once again, the Wayfarer suffered in sales. Ray-Ban contemplated the discontinuation of their Wayfarer brand for quite some time, until they finally spotted multiple sales on eBay of the Wayfarer as “vintage sunglasses” in the early 2000’s.

The last laugh

The company redesigned the shades, maintaining the look, but creating a better fit, for comfort’s sake. The Wayfarers now sit comfortably on the heads of thousands of people in different countries. Sales in 2007 never looked better, with a 231 percent rise. Today, the stock design for 3D glasses is the iconic Wayfarer, giving way for a more colorful range of the sunglasses to be introduced. Wayfarers are still among the top three ‘best-selling’ sunglasses in the world today.



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