The history of sunglasses dates back thousands of years, with their evolution reflecting changes in fashion, technology, and society. Here’s a brief overview of the history of sunglasses and their evolution over time:
- Ancient Origins: The earliest known use of sunglasses dates back to ancient Rome, where emperors and other high-ranking officials wore smoky quartz lenses to protect their eyes from the sun’s glare during outdoor activities. Similarly, Inuit people in the Arctic used eyewear made from bone or ivory with narrow slits to block out the sun’s glare on the snow.
- Renaissance Period: During the Renaissance period, sunglasses began to gain popularity in Italy. The lenses were made from flat panels of smoky quartz, which provided some protection from the sun but did not correct vision.
- 18th Century: In the 18th century, James Ayscough introduced glasses with tinted lenses to England. He believed that blue or green lenses could alleviate specific vision impairments, though they were not designed to protect against the sun.
- Early 20th Century: In the early 20th century, clip on sunglasses started to become more popular among movie stars and celebrities, who wore them to shield their eyes from the bright lights on set and to maintain an air of mystery. This helped to popularize sunglasses as a fashion accessory.
- 1930s: The first modern sunglasses were introduced by Sam Foster in 1929 and sold under the brand name “Foster Grant.” These sunglasses had large round lenses and were designed to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
- 1940s and 1950s: During the 1940s and 1950s, sunglasses became a staple fashion accessory. Classic styles like aviators and wayfarers were introduced, and sunglasses began to be worn by movie stars and celebrities off-screen as well.
- 1960s and 1970s: In the 1960s and 1970s, sunglasses became a symbol of counterculture and rebellion. Round, oversized frames and colorful lenses became popular, reflecting the free-spirited and experimental attitude of the era.
- 1980s and 1990s: In the 1980s and 1990s, sunglasses continued to evolve with the introduction of sporty and wraparound styles. The focus shifted towards performance and protection, with advancements in lens technology and UV protection.
- 21st Century: Today, sunglasses are a multi-billion dollar industry, with a wide range of styles, colors, and shapes to suit every taste and preference. Advances in technology have led to the development of smart sunglasses, prescription sunglasses, and lenses with advanced coatings and protection.
The history of sunglasses is a fascinating journey that reflects the changing times and attitudes of society. From their ancient origins to their modern-day incarnations, sunglasses have evolved to become a functional and fashionable accessory that continues to captivate and inspire.