An Italian manufacturer of high-quality lenses for sunglasses, Barbarini lenses are distinguished by their pigmentation being part of the glass when a coating on the lens is common in plastic sunglasses. Barbarini lenses are regarded as the best money can buy.
Branding in eyewear didn’t really exist until the 1980s. The earliest examples of eyewear were practical in application and medical in intention. The first sunglasses, for example, were made from whalebone by Inuits to protect hunters’ eyes from the glare of the sun. The earliest examples of manufactured sunglasses were intended for the outdoor sports market, for skiers and mountaineers, or they were a medical apparatus used to remedy the light sensitivity of syphilis sufferers. In the 19th century, glasses were often designed for work purposes, for furnace stokers and steam engine operators. The frames often had distinct metal side-guards, a style that has recently been revived by the designer Thom Browne.
In the 20th century, eyewear, and sunglasses in particular, began to develop fresh associations. Glasses began to be seen as something more than a medical device for the rectification of eye-sight problems. The fashion media began to promote the idea that sunglasses were an accessory of glamorous people: grand prix drivers, airline pilots and movie stars. Early branding for sunglasses tended to centre on aviation and motoring. Someone wearing sunglasses may well have an association with companies like Ferrari, Al Italia or Boeing. In the early 1980s, major fashion designers began to give their names to ranges of eyewear. In 1980, only 10% of glasses were designer; now, only 10% are unbranded. In 1989, Armani joined the boom and launched their first range of optical fashionwear, all in a 1940s style. Fashion turns full-circle all the time, as it’s the 1940s style that designers are reviving now in 2017.