Wayfarer History - where did they come from?

Wayfarer History - where did they come from?

3 minute read

Wayfarer History. A discussion on the wayfarer story

Black Wayfarers style

The etymology of wayfarer sunglasses goes back to 1956, where they were manufactured by Ray-Ban.

They were designed by an American Optical Designer Raymond Stegeman.

The style however, lost it's popularity in the sixties and attempts were made to boost sales for some time after that, that were largely unsuccessful until Rayban signed a huge deal with Unique product Placement in California for the glasses to appear in a number of major films in 1982.

From then on Wayfarers became popular not only with the people who were watching the films such as impressionable teenagers with crushes on Tom Cruise for example, but other celebrities that also wanted to stay on top of fashion also.

Since they became popular through the outlet of films we will look at....

Wayfarers in Films

The film Risky Business in 1986 really catapulted these glasses to success.

Tom Cruise was a huge pin up in the eighties and many teenagers and adults alike had a crush on him.

The sale of these shot up sales by 50% and everyone wanted a pair of these and 360,000 of these were sold.

Risky Business Tom Cruise                                                Risky Business Ray Bans, Tom Cruise 1986

Wayfarer HistoryHarvey Keitel, Reservoir Dogs, 1992

Quentin Tarantino's acclaimed criminal drama was a huge hit of it's day. The criminals wore these wayfarer glasses as if they were a uniform for their team. The infamous film poster even had a picture of all the protagonists lined up wearing them.

Reservoir Dogs

The message was out that if you were high status, cool and confident you would be wearing a pair of these. 

Miami Vice Wayfarers

Don Johnson, Miami Vice

Don Johnson wore wayfarers in Miami vice from 1984-1990 and apparently sales sky rocketed again to 720,000 according to CCN Money.

Bruce Willis wearing Wayfarers in Moonlighting

Bruce Willis in Moonlighting (aired 1985-1989)

Bruce Willis played the role of a private detective in Moonlighting. The wayfarers added to his air of secrecy, but also gave him a level of status, whilst being cool at the same time. 

Wolf of Wall Street Wayfarer

Leonardo Di Caprio wears wayfarers in the Wolf of Wall Street film (2013), which was set in the 80's and plays a crooked stock broker. These sunglasses reflect his 'other' sneaky side and shows the high status he has as a successful criminal.

Wayfarers Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo Di Caprio playing Jordon Belfort

Musical artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson also chose these as their signature look in the eighties and nineties- to explain more about wayfarer history 

Madonna and Michael Jackson

Who wears these now?

Nowadays celebrities such as Jessica Alba (top left,) Jude Law (top right,) Lindsay Lohan (bottom left,) Matthew McConaughey (middle right,) Jake Gyllenhaal (bottom right.) 

Celebrities wearing wayfarers

To shop the look, have a look at our recommended versions

Check out our latest article about eighties sunglasses for more inspiration on the sunglasses style for that era.

1980's style sunglasses our top four styles

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