The Philippines seems an unlikely stage for launching the classic Aviator lens style of many modern designer sunglasses brands.
First issued to US wartime pilots in the Second World War, the sunglasses soared to giddy fashion heights when American General Douglas MacArthur donned a pair while visiting US troops in the Far East.
The oversized teardrop shape was not only perfect for pilots, offering maximum eye protection at high altitudes but also managed to look sexy, even on an ageing general. Initially manufactured by Ray-Ban, the lens style, now nicknamed 'Aviator', became hugely popular with the American public. Other sunglasses manufacturers quickly emulated the teardrop style, and today most designer brands offer an 'aviator-style lens in their collections.
Aviator-style sunglass lenses have dominated the sunglasses market ever since, with women, in particular, buying into the unique look.
The large Aviator lenses look their best in thin metal frames. Because the lens area is relatively large, metals chosen for Aviator frames must combine strength and durability. The frame wraps around the entire lens and usually has a double or triple bridge across the nose. Common types of metal in Aviator frames are various alloys of stainless steel, aluminium and copper. Titanium is often the choice for higher-end sunglasses but can ratchet up the price.
Aviator frames also often come with bayonet-type arms – a legacy of when the sunglasses were designed to slide easily beneath pilots' wartime helmets. Some manufacturers produce Aviator sunglasses with plastic frames, but purists insist that metal frames are the hallmark of this model. Plastic frames do have certain advantages over metal, however. The frames can come in various colours, allowing for even larger lenses. Plastic frames are also much more flexible than metal, bending or breaking relatively quickly. Many of the metal Aviators that arrive in AlphaOmega Glasses Repair workshops are for bent or broken frames.
Aviator lenses may look flat, but they are slightly curved, a quality that helps protect against ultraviolet (UV) light from all angles. These days Aviator sunglass lenses can also come with a range of coatings and surface treatments that offer extra eye protection.
Polarised lenses filter out horizontally aligned light waves. This reduces glare and is particularly useful for drivers, especially those behind the wheel in bright conditions. Mirrored lenses also cut down on the light hitting the eye. Although they can look very striking, it does mean that the wearer sees less of the outside world as clarity is lost along with the light.
Coloured lenses come in a range of tints, each with its characteristics. Brown and grey tones are the most popular as they don't affect the colours the user sees, reducing colour saturation without affecting the hue. Yellow and orange lenses give the world a warm colour cast. Images remain bright, and depth perception is improved, making yellow lenses ideal for outdoor sports enthusiasts, especially skiers and snowboarders. Red lenses also score on brightness and depth perception, especially in low light conditions, making them the first choice for outdoor pursuits in variable light conditions such as hiking and camping.
Aviator sunglasses have a long pedigree that has withstood the test of time. As popular as they were among pilots in World War Two, they have become the mainstream product for many designer brands. Famous for their large lenses and teardrop shape, aviators are sought after by men and women alike. Metal frame aviators are still the biggest sellers, but sales of plastic frames are growing. Whatever the choice of material, if your sunglasses ever get bent or broken or if lenses get scratched or dimmed through normal wear and tear, AlphaOmega staff have the skills to repair your Ray-Ban glasses frames and lenses in double-quick time and at a realistic price. We specialise in vintage eyewear repair.