The history of sunglasses: How did it all start?

10.01.2021

YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE TO FIND OUT.

Sunglasses first took Hollywood by storm during the 1970s, but have achieved a status of much more than a breezy fashion fad. Combined with eye protection and the potential for correcting one’s vision, sunglasses also contribute to our health and general well-being. But, have you ever wondered, how it used to be, and how the sunglasses we know today came to be? We are all familiar with great inventions that changed the world – Gutenberg’s printing press, Edison’s light bulb and Bell’s telephone. But we bet you know (almost) nothing about the wondrous invention of sunglasses. If that’s the case, read on to find out!

THE WORLD’S FIRST SUNGLASSES HAD A DIFFERENT PURPOSE – THEY HID THE WEARER’S EMOTIONS

Some allude to the polished emeralds that the Roman emperor Nero held in front of his eyes, while watching a gladiator battle, as the first invention of sunglasses. 

 

A more reliable claim for the first shades takes us to 12th century China, where a plate of smoky quartz has been attributed the function of sunglasses. Accessible only to the rich, they protected their eyes from the glare, yet the quartz crystal does not possess any ability to block UV rays. It is interesting to note, that such shades also held a social function – they were used to hide facial expressions. This was especially notable in courts, where these sunglasses were used to conceal emotions, so they would not influence any judgments.

 

SILK RIBBONS INSTEAD OF HANDLES

During the 15th century, reading glasses spread from China, and in the 17th century, the first benefits of corrective lenses were being discovered. The first name appearing as an inventor of glasses like the ones we know today is James Ayscough. He experimented with tinted lenses in the 18th century and strongly believed that he can correct vision impairments with blue or green tinted lenses. His inventions are sometimes noted as precursors to modern sunglasses.

 

The frames of such spectacles were usually made from leather, bone or metal, were very uncomfortable, and did not sit well on the nose. Instead of handles, a silk ribbon was used to hold the glasses in place, wrapping around the ears. In the place of temple tips we know today, ceramic weights were tied to the ends of the ribbon. In 1727, Edward Scarlett invented the first eyeglasses frame with temple tips that hook behind the ear. The invention of bifocal lenses followed in 1780. 

 

SUNGLASSES BECOME POPULAR AND ACCESSIBLE

When the world started to develop with the speed of light in the 20th century, the first modern frames started to appear. The first mass production of sunglasses was started by Sam Foster in 1929, and a year later they had already become a popular fashion trend. Because of the benefits sunglasses offered, a special set was made for pilots during the time. It boasted a special dark-green shade that served to absorb the yellow light of the visible spectrum at high altitudes. Another turning point came about in 1936, when Edwin Land invented Polaroid filters, marking the first time sunglasses were equipped with protection against UV rays. 

 

Many Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn popularized certain styles of sunglasses that became extremely desirable. Fashion designers and celebrities still strongly shape the sunglasses market, creating their own brands and styles that the masses find simply irresistible.

 

LAYONERS SUNGLASSES

The Layoners brand is inspired by the refined Italian haute couture that gives us the inspiration to create the hottest street style trends. Our offer includes a careful selection of male and female sunglasses with playful colored lenses and a varied choice of sophisticated fashionable frames for any taste. Layoners sunglasses are suitable for any occasion and perfect for every face type.

Trendy Layoners sunglasses this moment:

FRAMES OF THE FUTURE

The invention of sunglasses was incredibly important for our eyes. Through the centuries, their purpose changed from hiding one’s emotions, to revealing one’s fashion identity. Nowadays, sunglasses remain a popular accessory and an important factor for protecting our eyes. But who knows what’s next? 

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