In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)

Woman in sunglasses - In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)

Around the time of Glastonbury, there was a lot of buzz in the media about inflatable flamingos being the must-have accessory of the summer.  Having spent the last few months scrolling through endless holiday snaps on Facebook and Instagram while impatiently waiting for my late September getaway to roll around, I can confirm that I’ve seen a couple – but nowhere near as many as pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Home or away, man or woman, couple or single, young or old, I’ve lost count of the number of shades I’ve seen with the distinctive logo in the top left corner.  From a friend ordering some of Ray-Ban Aviators customised with her name back at the beginning of May to my beloved red Ray-Ban Clubmasters just unpacked and sitting on my dresser, I’ve encountered them almost as regularly as the ubiquitous summertime adverts for cheap lager.

Audrey Hepburn in Ray-Bans during the opening scenes of Breakfast At Tiffany's || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
Audrey Hepburn in Ray-Bans during the opening scenes of Breakfast At Tiffany’s || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)- raeritchie.com

In the shades

There are now more options for sunnies than ever.  Newcomers to the market such as Pala, who support vision projects in Africa through their sales, and Dick Moby, handmade from bio and recycled acetate, cater for the growing number of ethically conscious consumers.  Fashion magazines publicise high end firms such as Cutler and Gross as the brand du jour, and I get no end of compliments on my Italia Independent exclusives.

Other companies may have their moment in the sun (remember the popularity of Oakley shades in the nineties?) but still Ray-Ban reign supreme in the world of sunglasses, almost as synonymous as Hoover and vacuum cleaner.  According to data from Euromonitor International, in 2016 they were the largest sunglasses brand and commanded 5 percent of the global of the global eye wear market.  In 2014, they generated an enormous 2.065 billion euros for their owners Luxottica, an Italian firm who also operate Oakley, Oliver Peoples and pretty much every designer sunglasses range that you can name, including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY and Versace.

Tom Cruise popularised Ray-Ban aviators in the hit film Top Gun || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
Tom Cruise popularised Ray-Ban aviators in the hit film Top Gun || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) – raeritchie.com

What is it about Ray-Ban that makes them so popular?

It’s partly down to Luxottica’s management since they took over the company in 1999.  They changed the manufacturing process, using modern eyewear technology and vastly improving quality, and rebranded Ray-Ban as a luxury product, all without losing the aesthetics for which the firm was known.

There are other factors too.  The widespread ownership of sunglasses helps.  Opticians are always reminding us that they aren’t just a fashion item and it seems that we are taking notice, with rising awareness of the need for eye protection credited with boosting worldwide sales.  Plus unlike other areas of apparel, sunglasses are purchased by men and women, with one UK survey by Mintel finding that men were almost twice as likely as women to buy designer shaded specs (20 percent compared to 11 percent).

Obligatory cute kid in sunnies pic

Our love of sunglasses often begins early in life.  One summer my then three year old nephew couldn’t be parted from his Thomas the Tank Engine frames.  Who doesn’t have a childhood photograph of themselves posing proudly in a pair?

Back then sunglasses have a fun, novelty value, but we soon grow to learn that they represent so much more.  They are entry level designer goods, a status symbol that is neither too ostentatious nor breaks the bank – particularly if justified on cost-per-wear basis as my friend and I did with her customised Aviators.

The cool factor

Of course no discussion of sunglasses, particularly Ray-Ban, would be complete without reference to the word ‘cool’.  Earlier this year, Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Centre commissioned a report which found that over half of the 2,000 British adults questioned considered sunglasses to be the coolest fashion accessory – and a massive two-thirds believed that sunglasses made wearers look instantly more stylish!

Again Ray-Ban dominate these notions of cool.  Also earlier this year, in a GlobalWedIndex survey of over 28,000 Internet users aged 16-64, Ray-Ban were voted the coolest luxury brand, with almost 40 percent choosing them over the other sixteen options that included Chanel and Armani.

The Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh style || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses - raeritchie.com
The Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh style || In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) – raeritchie.com

This perception has developed over the course of the company’s almost ninety year history, encouraged by the many iconic sunglasses wearers who have donned one kind of Ray-Ban or another, including Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  With the Jackie Ohh, Ray-Ban even created a design for another legendary sunglasses wearer, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

With this level of pedigree, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we are so heavily drawn to Ray-Ban.  A practical purpose, relatively accessible price point and the cachet of a designer brand meets the Hollywood dream factory and fantasy world of the world’s most stylish stars.  No wonder we’re loyal fans of the Ray Ban Aviator, Ray Ban Clubmaster, Ray Ban Wayfarer and more: Ray-Ban put all other sunglasses brands in the shade.

For more from me straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly mailing.  It includes exclusive offers and giveaways! Every single subscription makes a real difference to me and my work.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

 

 

Advertisements

Charity shop shopping with Myton Hospices: My vintage fashion charity shop adventure at Myton Fargo, Coventry

Charity shop shopping with Myton Hospices: My vintage fashion charity shop adventure at Myton Fargo, Coventry || raeritchie.com
Charity shop shopping with Myton Hospices: My vintage fashion charity shop adventure at Myton Fargo, Coventry || raeritchie.com

I love nothing more than a good rummage in a charity shop so was super excited when Myton Hospices invited me to do a style challenge in their latest store, vintage fashion focused Myton Fargo, Coventry.

Myton Hospices is a charity based in and around Coventry, near to where I live in Warwickshire – right in the centre of England.  For the last thirty-five years, their three hospices have provided palliative, end-of-life care to local people.  In the UK, although hospices provide vital support to the NHS (National Health Service), they don’t receive any government money.  They therefore rely on fundraising to cover all their costs.

Along with events, charity shops (also known as thrift stores, op shops and Goodwill elsewhere in the world) are a central to these fundraising efforts.  In 2016, Myton Hospices raised £8.8 million to ensure their essential work could continue (that’s $11.9 million, €9.96 million, ¥1.325 million, AED 43.8 million).

Vintage fashion focus in Myton Fargo

They have twenty-one charity shops around the Coventry and Warwickshire area, and Myton Fargo is the latest, having only opened three weeks ago.  For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may remember my delight and despair on the launch day: delight at the amazing stock, despair at the Carvela loafers that weren’t in my size!

Myton Fargo takes its name from its location on Far Gosford Street.  This is the heart of Coventry’s new creative quarter.  The shop is directly opposite FarGo Village, a collection of independent businesses including vintage stores, a second hand bookshop, a sustainable clothing manufacturer ethical eateries and a micro-brewery (I’ve previously written about tenants Heaven Vintage and Positive Clothing).

The area’s vibe continues in the Myton Fargo store.  The shop is specifically focused on vintage fashion and retro goods, although there some excellent new and nearly new items on the racks and shelves too.  Manager Angela had her own vintage fashion business so has an eye for what to stock and every item is hand selected, much of it from the charity’s central storage facility.

The charity shop shopping adventure

My brief to style one outfit with a budget of £20.00 ($27.00, €23.00, ¥3,000, AED 100.00) went out the window within minutes of arriving at Myton Fargo on Saturday morning.  There was so much treasure in there that I wanted to showcase more than just one ensemble!

Instead I put together eight looks that I’m featuring on Instagram and Twitter every day this week.  Head over and take a look!  I’m asking people to guess how much they think each outfit costs and would love to hear your estimates.

And because these eight outfits *still* weren’t enough to do Myton Fargo justice, below are some other examples of their awesome stock.

I want to highlight the range of clothing available in charity shops / thrift stores / op shops.  You don’t have to be into vintage to love them!   They’re a great place to experiment with new styles, whether vintage or otherwise.  You can also pick up pieces that nail current trends without turning to the high street and fast fashion.  Plus as you’ll see, workwear and special occasions are catered for as well!

At this risk of stating the obvious, it’s worth reiterating the sustainable element to charity shop shopping too.  By buying second hand, you’re keeping textiles out of landfill and recycling perfectly good materials while putting much needed coppers in the pockets of the charity in question.

If you live near to the English Midlands, I’d encourage you to find your nearest Myton Hospices shop and check them out for yourself.  Wherever you live, pay your local charity shop a visit and support a good cause while securing a bit of loveliness for yourself!

Your favourite charity shops

Where are your favourite charity shops, thrift stores and op shops?  I’m always looking for recommendations so comment below or on social media to share your suggestions.  I’d also love to hear about your experiences of charity shopping.  What’s been your best bargain?  What little gem have you snapped up?

What I found in Myton Fargo charity shop…

This season’s trends

What really stood out for me during my five hours in the Myton Fargo charity shop (yes really – five hours!) was the amount of stock that ticked this season’s fashion boxes.  Here are some of my favourite examples!

Two of the big colours at the moment are red and pink, both of which have a reputation as being difficult to wear.  Uncertain as to whether they are for you?  Buy something suitably hued from a charity shop and you have a great cheap way to play.

Colour without commitment!

Patterned midi dress?  Yes please!  Totally on trend, totally a bargain!  Size XXL but vintage clothing usually comes up small, plus this could be belted.  Cost: £15.00!

I’m normally a bit reluctant to feature Primark clothing in my discussions of second hand clothing, partly because I think even buying used supports fast throwaway fashion, partly because the quality isn’t there.  However I couldn’t resist giving this beautiful beaded collar a shout out!  It’s an easy way to get on board with the fashion world’s newly rediscovered love of pearls.

Primark cardigan, size fourteen, cost £3.00 ($4.00, €3.5, ¥450, AED 15.00).

Accessories

The selection of accessories in Myton Fargo was as lust inducing as the clothing, with a whole range of tastes catered for too.  I’m again having not-buying-shoes regret but I was so preoccupied with what I could you show you lovely people that I didn’t have the brain space to consider charity shop shopping for myself!

From the accessories, I put together an edit of items that I think are particularly awesome.  These are pictured in the grid below and I’ll be offering them to my mailing list in the September newsletter.  Of course you can always be in with a chance of getting your hands on them by signing up 😉

Workwear

Even if we don’t work in an office with a dress code, sometimes we all need an outfit that’s a little bit smarter.  Charity shops can help us achieve that without having to spend full price – but still snapping up some reputable brands.  Here are Myton Fargo highlights!

Top to bottom:

Vintage tunic style shirt, size fourteen, £3.00 ($4.00, €3.50, ¥450, AED 15.00).

Whistles dress, size twelve, £5.00 ($4.00, €6.00, ¥750, AED 25.00).

The Kooples ombre shirt, size small, £7.00 ($9.50, €8.00, ¥1050, AED 35.00).

Marks and Spencer Autograph retro style dress, size fourteen, £8.00 ($11.00, €9.00, ¥1200, AED 40.00).

Christmas

Yes, the C-word in September! But there’s less than one hundred days to go now and I believe that it’s never too early to begin planning for it – especially if it helps avoid a last-minute panic that results in over-spending on something itchy and ill-fitting that you only wear once.

Myton Fargo stocked plenty that would be perfect for a Christmas party or a more formal event.  There will be more about this on Instagram and Twitter this week, but for now here’s just one example: never has the Mrs Santa look been so retro fabulous (nor demure!).

Cost for this size small, unlabelled vintage dress: £15.00 ($20.00, €17.00, ¥2.260, AED75.00)

 

Best of the rest vintage

 

Top left to bottom right:

1980s denim overall style dress, size medium, £12.00 ($16.00, €13.50, ¥1800, AED 60.00).

1990s velvet waistcoat, forgot to note the details – oops!

1980s Mary Quant velvet dress (yes! Mary Quant!), size twelve, £25.00 ($34.00, €28.00, ¥3775, AED 125.00).

Windsmoor houndstooth check jacket, size eight, £12.00 ($16.00, €13.50, ¥1800, AED 60.00).

Classic vintage pattern cotton skirt, size medium, £6.00 ($8.00, €6.75, ¥900, AED 30.00).

1940s style orange lightweight knit cardigan, size medium, £5.00 ($4.00, €6.00, ¥750, AED 25.00).

Sailor style black and white dress, size sixteen, £7.00 ($9.50, €8.00, ¥1050, AED 35.00).

1960s dress coat with matching shift dress*, sold as a set, size medium, £10.00 ($13.50, €11.00, ¥1500, AED 50.00).

Blue and white silky dress, size extra large, £6.00 ($8.00, €6.75, ¥900, AED 30.00).

* Lightly stained but no doubt dry cleaning would sort this.

One final word: don’t forget to sign up to my monthly mailing if you’d like to be in with a chance of getting some of Myton Fargo’s best accessories.  Enter your email here.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Heaven Vintage’s Fab Fill A Bag vintage fashion sales: a new way to buy vintage clothes

Heaven Vintage's Fab Fill A Bag vintage fashion sales: a new way to buy vintage clothes || raeritchie.com

Please note that this post has been sponsored by Heaven Vintage – but all views & enthusiasm are my own! 

Browsing a vintage fashion sale always sounds like a good way to spend a Saturday morning to me, but especially so when I heard that Coventry’s FarGo Village favourites Heaven Vintage had created a new way to shop with their ‘Fab Fill A Bag’ events!  Fuelled by a lovely filter coffee from The Big Comfy Bookshop, I headed into FarGo’s central atrium to find out more.

We’re all familiar with the usual ways to pay for vintage clothes.  Mostly items are individually priced, but there are also sales where customers pay according to weight – typically £15 upwards for a kilo of clothing and accessories, sometimes with an admission fee on top.

However Heaven’s ‘Fab Fill A Bag’ events are different.  With their unique concept, you shop the racks and rails full of vintage fashion then take what you want for bagging up.  Whatever fits in one bag, you get for £10.  Want more vintage clothes and accessoires?  Fill another bag for £10.

It’s that simple: a tenner for a bag full of whatever vintage fashion you choose.

Not only is it simple, it’s great value!  If your friend chooses all lightweight blouses but you want a beaded dress and a leather jacket, you’re not penalised as you would be at a pay-per-kilo sale where the heaviest items cost the most.

Two customers rummage through the vintage fashion at Heaven Vintage's Fab Fill A Bag sale
What might we find?

 

Whatever vintage clothes you fill your bag with, you will be getting a good deal. 

Well folded and rolled, you can squeeze a deceptive amount into the clear plastic bags that they provide (sized 39 x 45 in the summer and 56 x 45cm in the winter).  You can leave with at least a couple of outfits for the price of one or two cheap items off the high street as well as knowing that that you’re doing your bit for the environment by doing some super cool clothes recycling.

The weight of the bag I filled?  1.75 kg.  That would have cost *at least* £26 at a kilo sale.

Instead it cost £10, and I could have got even more goodies in it if I’d wanted to.  (You can also win the edit that I selected; check out my Instagram for more info on how!).

Literally a treasure chest filled with vintage silk scarves
Literally a treasure chest!

There are other reasons for loving the ‘Fab Fill A Bag’ events too.  There’s the thrill of uncovering a hidden gem that comes with their deliberately jumble sale vibe.  Heaven Vintage owner Angela grew up rummaging around in church halls for treasure and that’s the feeling that she wanted her customers here to experience.

Angela’s presence at the end of the tables is another plus point.  She knows her Adidas from her Zandra Rhodes so go chat to her about what you’re looking for – there’s none of the too-cool-for-school vibe that pervades some vintage emporiums.  On the contrary, ‘Fab Fill A Bag’ has a refreshingly friendly atmosphere.

I chatted to first time visitors (including a mother and daughter from Minnesota in the States!) as well as Heaven regulars.  Monthly customer Susie told me that she loved coming because it allows you to dress a bit wacky.  She is totally right.

Because of the low prices, you’re not afraid to experiment with items that you perhaps wouldn’t normally try.

This is true for vintage connoisseurs as much as complete newbies to the scene.  Alongside some new branded and high street goods (I saw several unworn ASOS dresses, complete with original tags), there are retro classics including cut-offs, plaid shirts and wax jackets.

 

This vintage fashion sale stocks plenty of vintage clothing classics such as the cut offs on this table
Vintage fashion classics, from cut offs to plaid shirts

The huge range of different styles represented on the hangers covers various decades and offers something for all tastes.

There’s everything from classic British labels to US imports to rarer European brands.

 

Two happy customers with a bag of vintage clothes leaving the Fab Fill A Bag vintage fashion sale
Happy customers!

You’re bound to find at least one piece, no doubt more, that makes your heart go a-flutter.  Several days later, I’m still slightly gutted that I missed out on an amethyst Liz Claiborne edge-to-edge wool coat.  Damn that Susie!  I’ll be sharpening my elbows when I see her at the next one 🙂

Don’t forget you can win my edit from this sale!  Check out my Instagram for all the details.

The next Fab-Fill-A-Bag sale is Saturday 16th September (11am to 4pm) and Sunday 17th September (11am to 3pm) at FarGo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5ED.  For more information, check out Heaven Vintage’s Facebook page.

For more from me straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly mailing.  It includes exclusive offers and giveaways! Every single subscription makes a real difference to me and my work.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.