Story of the Ski Aviators
If you watch video clips about skiing from the 70s or early 80s, pay attention to the sunglasses. What you will soon discover is that everyone is wearing the same type of sunglasses in different colors. White, blue, green, yellow, purple... All with a full mirror lenses that gives a perfect reflection of the snowy mountains and the outlandish ski clothing of their buddies. Because if there was one thing that you could be sure of during this era - When you hit the mountains, you better sport your colorful aviator sunnies!
The Invention of Aviators
The Aviator frame has an interesting history. Born out of necessity to give military pilots a sight advantage, purposely designed lightweight sunglasses were created to replace the bulky, heavy pilot goggles still in use from the open cockpit era of aviation. The frame and lenses were ergonomically designed in a 'teardrop shape' to fit close to the face and provide a wide field of vision, and the lenses were specifically tinted to reduce glare and increase visibility in difficult light conditions. Prototypes were exhaustively tested and perfected during World War II, and became standardized in 1941. This is the original sunglass design that influenced and inspired every Aviator-style shape created since. After the war, aviator-style teardrop shaped sunglasses exploded in popularity, modelled by everyone from Formula One drivers to Hollywood legends, becoming the symbol of high-performance sunglasses.
The age of the 'Ski Aviators'
During the 70s, a decade full of funk and flair, a ski-oriented version of the aviators became one of the most popular ski sunglasses ever created. Aviators were made in all kinds of colors by a wealth of brands, from Rossignol to Bolle, Cebe to ISki, all with slight variations, and were worn by everyone from World Cup Skiing champions, to icons Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The overall style, which we have dubbed the 'Ski Aviators' was seen everywhere and in many ways came to define an era of skiing and skiers in the 1970s and early 80s - a creative and passionate ski culture who were all about having fun on snow in the mountains.
Wayne Wong was among those free-thinking skiers to help push skiing outside previous race-driven norms and open up the culture to more creative and expressive styles of skiing. This became known as the legendary ‘Hot Dog’ era. One of the most influential skiers of the 20th century, his boundary-pushing skiing and signature white sunglasses made him a true icon of the time, especially because of THAT legendary poster that plastered the wall of young skiers everywhere. In 2020 we teamed up with Wayne to bring back his signature white sunglasses in a collaboration that is still ongoing. And in doing so we fulfilled a dream and recreated the poster exactly 50 years later. We are happy to report that Wayne is still doing it 'the Wong Way'!
The Comeback Kid
In 2020 we released the Ski Aviators. After having dominated ski culture for close to two decades, the style had long since been forgotten, and we made it our mission to bring it back to its former glory. Our design is heavily inspired by the styles of the past, but with a more modern fit. Of course the biggest advancements have happened in the world of optics. Many of the sunglasses during the past era did not have sufficient UV protection to meet today's standards, let alone great optical clarity. We have equipped the sunglasses with our proprietary V52® optics made from nylon polyamide, a lens material that far surpasses industry-standard polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. Naturally the lenses are all fully mirror-coated. To date the range includes white, black, green, and dark tortoise, while the classic tricolored frames come in both blue and purple.
From Ski to Surf
For the dedicated collectors of Ski Aviators in different colors, summertime would be difficult if it wasn't for the Surf Aviators! Flashy mirrors might belong more on the mountain, and for everyone who wants to rock their aviators year-round we launched a polarized version for all-around use. Polarizaton was never a feature of ski sunglasses as the polarized filter cuts glare, making it difficult to spot icy patches on snow. The advantage of polarization is instead most pronounced when on or near water, where the polarized filter cuts the reflection from the water, allowing greater vision. Our Surf Aviators are unique in adopting the iconic style of 70s ski sunglasses, but with polarized modern sports optics.
From 70s to 80s
The 80s saw a progression in style from the funky to the 'out there' to the sometimes downright crazy! But the mid-80s had some golden years with a new style dominating on the mountain. A return to the more classic aviator-shape of the 30s and 40s, the 'teardrop' became more pronounced. Hazlewood is our unapologetic celebration of ski sunglasses from this era, complete with classic mirror lenses.