Sunski | A brief history of the wayfarer style


 The wayfarer style was released by Ray-Ban in the 1950s as an alternative to the clunky old metal frames of the past. The original 1950s style was highly angular with an aggressive forward lean, almost like the horn-rimmed spectacles worn by Mrs. Crabtree, your stern 3rd grade teacher.
(Like her, only older and scary-er)

The glasses came to a sharp point on the “wings” at the edges of the temples, and they maintained their popularity through the 60s.

(Bob Dylan knew style when he saw it)

The end of the 60s into the 70s saw a decline in the popularity of the Wayfarer style. It was on the verge of discontinuation until two men and a cop car came along to save the style.

The wayfarer style was revived in the early 80s through product placement deals in movies, where everybody from the Blues Brothers to Tom Cruise could be seen wearing them on the big screen. This resultedin a surge of popularity for the style that reached international proportions.

About the same time as this wave of popularity, a few other optics companies began looking at the traditional black style and contemplated how to make their mark in the industry. About the mid-1980s Oakley (the optics company we all know) and Sunski (the late Australian fashion and apparel brand) simultaneously released their own take on the style. Oakley released the frogskins in the US, which featured clear frames and brightly colored lenses. Sunski took the design one step further by rounding down the sharp edges of the original wayfarer shape, reducing the lens size and releasing the extraordinarily colorful variants we now know and love.

As the fashion cycle continued, the 80s ended (unfortunately) and the wayfarer style fell into disuse throughout the 90s. In the early 2001s, Ray Ban redesigned their wayfarers with a more rounded, less angular style and smaller lenses. Riding the popularity of this new style, Oakley one again re-released their frogskins to the public in 2008–about the same time Tom discovered the last of the Sunskis on the beach while on a surf trip in Australia.

It’s hard to know who was the original inspiration for the 2001 redesign, but one fun factoid is that the “new wayfarer” style that Ray Ban released actually adopted the rounded, smaller frame size that Sunskis originally pioneered in the 80s. It’s fun to think that maybe they looked to some of the old Aussie variants and decided they were something to be admired and emulated!


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Posted by Minji