From the military to Hollywood, aviator sunglasses are the most popular sunglasses on the planet. Learn about the history behind one of the most iconic sunglasses ever made.

To talk about the Aviator Sunglasses is to talk about the history of men’s fashion; one cannot exist without the other. This iconic model of sunglasses was created more than eighty years ago and its classic design with drop-shaped lenses, dark green lens color and gold frame (registered by the brand under the name Arista), remains virtually unchanged and sophistically brilliant.  

Riviera Shades Iconic Sunglasses Collection


The Ray-Ban Aviator model (then Bausch & Lomb) was first introduced in the late 1930s. At that time the US Army Air Corps needed a device that could cover the eyes of their pilots shielding them from the sun’s glare. The actual problem with the pre-existing protective visors and goggles was that they were tremendously heavy, large, and uncomfortable to use. 

This is where Ray-Ban‘s predecessor stepped in and introduced a pair of sunglasses that were the perfect solution to the army’s problem; thus, the Aviator was born. The first Aviator sunglass ever designed had teardrop-shaped glass lens in greenish-black tones.

The first design offered by the brand (known as Anti-Glare Aviator Sunglasses) consisted of two large “teardrop” shaped lenses that covered large areas of the face (from the top of the eyes till the cheekbones.) The lenses had a green tone that reduced un-filtered light by 75%. The real hero of this design was its finish; It had a golden metal frame, spatula-shaped pins, two bridge bars, and the name “Ray-Ban” engraved in the upper (right) corner of the right lens.

The model created in the 1930s might have remained unchanged in terms of its looks, but the company’s ambition caused this model to be modified with the intention that its use is expanded beyond aviation to activities such as fishing, hunting, and trekking.

Like every iconic product that is worth its salt, it didn’t take the Aviators time to gain general popularity. Aviators became the headline of every newspaper when during World War II, General Douglas MacArthur was caught wearing Ray-Ban Aviator on his arrival to a beach in the Philippines in 1944.

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The Aviators became a standard for military sunglasses, but they had yet to become a part of the biggest industry in the United States – Film & Media. It was during the eighties when these sunglasses became an overnight sensation. Classic movies like Top Gun (starring Tom Cruise), & Cobra, (starring Sylvester Stallone appears) gave the Aviators a boost in popularity it had never seen before. Households all across America started idolizing theses sunglasses and the heroes who wore them.

Robert De Niro donned an updated square version of aviators in Taxi Driver, which gave the style a boost. Sales leaped a shocking 40% after Tom Cruise, and Val Kilmer wore aviator sunglasses in Top Gun.

In addition to the eighties and nineties, music icons such as Freddie MercuryPaul McCartney, Ringo Star, Héctor Lavoe or Michael Jackson made the Ray-Ban Aviator a must-have look. This fresh approach gave the large, tough frames a unisex appeal.


Although the classic gold frame and dark green lenses combo may be the most iconic model, there is a wide variety of styles and designs under the Ray-Ban Aviator banner. If it is clear that Ray-Ban is the main producer of this model, it is no less true that there are many brands that have manufactured similar identical models. 

Even though you will be able to find the Aviator in every price range (YES, even for just $5), it is important to inspect the quality of the glasses before buying them.

With all this, there is no doubt that Aviator sunglasses have managed to consolidate their permanence over time. After all, this cultural icon has been able to survive ephemeral trends, and other changes, for the past 80 years.

Read on for information on the dazzling styles available today. These include the classic Large Metal Aviator, the Iconic, and the Full-Color Aviator.

Ray-Ban – Aviator Large Metal

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Virtually unchanged since 1937, the Original Ray-Ban Aviators are perhaps the most iconic sunglasses of all time. Large, 62mm G-15 lenses, gold frames, and transparent temple tips: these are the true pilot’s sunglasses. From the Second World War to today, and of course, in Tom Cruise’s Top Gun.  As functional as they are stylish, these glasses give your eyes great coverage, protecting you from the sun’s harmful rays.

Riviera Shades – Iconic

Arguably the coolest of them all, the Riviera Shades Iconic models have mirrored lenses. This is one of the most dominant trends of recent seasons. For our money, the combination of gold frames and bright colored lenses is unbeatable. Whether you’re at the beach or in the middle of the urban jungle, these versatile shades will never feel out of place.

BOSS by Hugo Boss Men’s B0782S

Made with ultra-lightweight carbon fiber, these modish sunglasses by BOSS boast black lenses and the classic Aviator frames that are universally flattering.

The rubber infusion with an inner-tip micro-texture keeps the sunglasses in place whenever you wear them. If you’re looking for the classic look in a designer brand, HUGO BOSS aviator sunglasses are the way to go.

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