Ray-Ban: If you examine the front of any pair of glasses—whether they’re designer shades for the beach or cheap readers from the dollar store—you’ll see that the lens is convex. The lenses of eyeglasses, which have a circular shape optimized for taking in as much reflected light as possible and allowing our animal brains to view the world, curve slightly outward from the eyes, making them feel like extensions of the eyes themselves.
The 86-year-old Ray-Ban brand of sunglasses is poised to turn that norm on its head. The new Reverse range bucks convention by including what the firm claims to be the first concave lens. Lenses from the Reverse series have a slightly inward curve, making them look like miniature recessed shields for the eyes.
EssilorLuxottica, the parent business of the Ray-Ban brand, has an R&D product style licensing director named Federico Buffa. Buffa notes in an email that the inverted lens shape is an attempt to make sunglasses fit more faces. “Since the Ray-Ban Reverse lens follows the natural curve of the cheekbone, we expect to appeal to a more universal audience,” Buffa explains.
Four of Ray-Ban’s frame designs now come equipped with the new lenses, with pricing starting at $185. Some writing styles experience this influence more strongly than others. The iconic thin-wired Aviator frame, for instance, resembles a delicate potato chip when viewed from the side with the dip side facing out.
Inverting the lens’s curvature required innovative and accurate 3D modeling technology.
Buffa claims that a proprietary and highly accurate 3D modeling technology was necessary to invert the lens’s curvature. The lenses were precisely calibrated to the proper degree of concavity to prevent any distorted refractions of light. This optical light-bending might have turned the lens into a wearable funhouse mirror. To prevent distortion of the wearer’s field of view, ” Buffa explains that “we have a cutting-edge engineering process that molded the lens to achieve a perfect balance between the front and rear surfaces,” explains Buffa.
Many people feel that wearing sunglasses with Reverse lenses is an upgrade. According to Buffa, the innovative lens design yields “sharper, more accurate vision.” From the perspective of the lenses, that may be a major selling feature.
For some, the novelty factor alone may be enough to make the purchase decision. Buffa describes it as an “aesthetic disruption.”