Ray-Ban Wayfarers may be a hipster staple, but much like former subculture favorites Clarks and trucker hats, their popularity has little to do with advertising.
Now, as the scenester set moves on to cat eyes and Moscots, Ray-Ban seems determined to maintain what was an unexpected spike in sales.
Last week, the company–a subsidiary of the Luxottica Group–dropped a major campaign for the sunnies style right into a few of New York’s major subway stations. Four prominent print makers, including Matt Moore and Aesthetic Apparatus, designed posters inspired by new Wayfarer patterns for the initiative. They look good. But will they help to sell more sunglasses? Who knows.
We get it: Ray-Bans’ Wayfarers inhabit a perpetual cycle of feast-and-famine-type popularity. And unfortunately for the suits at Luxxotica, we’re at the tail-end of one of those feasts.
But here’s the good news: Ray-Bans are eternal.
The design of the Wayfarer is important in two ways: It’s retro: It hasn’t changed in about 60 years. However, the glasses are also somehow futuristic: Ray-Bans were the first plastic sunglasses, and they were introduced in a time when people were still having blocks of ice delivered for their iceboxes (an old-fashioned word for refrigerator). There’s something intrinsically modern about them.
The Wayfarer is stuck in a space-time continuum. It’s old, but it’s new. It’s iconic, but not classic. It’s trendy, but it’s not a flash-in-the-pan.
Which is why it’s able to keep coming back, but never able to stay popular for a prolonged period of time. The Wayfarer is basically Marty McFly in Back To The Future: So oddly transcendent that it can’t exist in any one time period for more than a few minutes. And so they must remain, flitting in and out of popularity, comfortable only in a DeLorean. Presumably.
So ultimately it doesn’t matter how often Ray-Bans launch an ad campaign, or how soon after the last resurgence we decide to dig them back out of our closets again, or what color or pattern is debuted next. Wayfarers will outlive us all, but in a sneaky, stop-start fashion.
So, as they say, get your hair slicked back and your Wayfarers on, baby.