Aviator sunglasses, or "aviators" as they are called, were developed in 1937 by the eyewear company Ray-Ban. They are characterized by their thin wireframes, often black or gold in color, and large dark lenses that are approximately three times larger than the average human eye socket. Reflective lenses are also available in some versions in addition to dark lenses.
The original pilot sunglasses were inspired by Ray-Ban because Ray-Ban registered the “Aviator” word as a specific trademark, so other eyewear companies named "Pilot" sunglasses using Pilot or other letters + Aviator, e.g. OOAviator.
In addition to their bulging lenses, aviator sunglasses have another traditional characteristic. The standard glasses and sunglasses come with flat lenses, but aviators have lenses that protrude slightly outward. With this design, the eye area has the maximum amount of coverage.
In the beginning, Ray-Ban's aviators were made to look like the flying goggles that the Navy and the Army purchased from them. Pilots were able to block glare and harsh sunlight from their eyes with these goggles, but their faces developed an unwanted tan as a result. As they flew in the sun, their faces would become tanned, but the skin around their eyes remained fairer than the rest of their body because the goggles protected it. It was developed so that the sun would penetrate the aviator sunglasses, thus allowing the skin around the eyes to darken and blend with the rest of the face while, at the same time, concealing the silly-looking tan.
The goggles that the aviator sunglasses were based on were no longer used by 1941. Although, these sunglasses had become very popular, especially among Naval aviators. Aviators still wear them today. In addition, they have become popular with law enforcement officers. Many American police officers can be spotted outfitted with these sunglasses. In fact, it seems to have become a stereotype that American policemen and policewomen wear them. On the comedy television show Reno 911, which pokes fun at cops through stereotyping, many of the main characters wear aviators.
After becoming popular within the Army and Navy, aviator sunglasses became very popular within the civilian community. In fact, they are still worn to affect modern fashion statements. Since their development, they have been worn by many celebrities and notables. Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, Freddy Mercury, Axl Rose, Kanye West, and Jim Morrison are examples of popular musicians who have been spotted wearing this style of sunglasses, or who have even included them in part of their standard wardrobe.
Today, aviator-style sunglasses are produced by many sunglasses brands. Because the classic and fashionable style has been passed down, it is loved by more and more people.