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Why aviators are your face’s best friend

You look cooler when people can’t see your eyes, but that’s not all they’re good for.

The aviator sunglasses came to be in the early 1900s, when pilots began flying so high that their eyes risked freezing if they didn’t protect them from icy blasts and temperatures around minus 50 Celsius. With leather overalls and heavy hoods, a pair of fur-lined, drop-shaped goggles were an absolute must for the aircraft pioneers. 

In 1920, American aviator Shorty Schroeder became the first man to fly a biplane over 10,000 metres, but his record-setting flight was close to ending in disaster – because of his glasses. The pair fogged up and Schroeder had no choice but to take them off mid-flight, making his vision blurry and his eyes frozen, and leaving him basically blind thousands of metres above land. Luckily, he managed to land his biplane, but his eyes were damaged. After the incident, another pilot, John Macready, decided to try the stunt himself, also depending fully on the goggles to defend his vision. Macready’s eyes didn’t freeze, instead his eyes were injured by the bright rays of sun up in the stratosphere. 

Back on solid ground, the pilot began working together with the optical company Bausch & Lomb to create glasses that could shield better from the rays. Macready provided the company with the shape and fit, and they developed the glass. In 1936, the Ray-Bans – as the brand trademarked them – were introduced to the world, sold as sporting equipment and advertised for fishing and golfing. Their sleek teardrop design and protective glass made them iconic, and they were the shades of choice for American troops during World War II, perhaps most famously worn by General Douglas MacArthur. 

When the war ended, the aviators had already become mainstream. The timeless design is one of the most replicated in the world, and the style is basically synonymous with sunglasses. 

Aviators are effortlessly cool and will make anyone – regardless of age or style – look cooler. They’re loved by actors like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, and always seen on icons like Hunter S Thompson and Gloria Steinem. Today, we’re celebrating the shades by sharing our H&M favourites in the listing below. Browse and get a pair if you need to protect your eyes from sun rays or wind and look like a star doing it!

Read the stories behind all your wardrobe favourites here.




DIRECTOR Andreas Sjödin

STYLIST Marcus Söder | Link Details

DOP Max Larsson

MODEL Tandi Reason Dahl | Oui Management

HAIR Cim Mahony | Lalaland Artists

MAKEUP Trine Skjøt | Lund Lund

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