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Plastic Wayfarer Sunglasses Are 60, But Still the Summer Hit

By Janet Upadhye | July 19, 2012 7:35am

NEW YORK CITY — Sixty years after their introduction, the Wayfarer trend lives on.

Wayfarers, the unique plastic frames created by Ray Ban in 1952, were made popular by movie stars, musicians and politicians such as James Dean, Bob Dylan and President John F. Kennedy.

“History, along with fresh colorful updates, have made the original Wayfarer sunglasses a symbol of youth, fashion, and creativity for over 50 years,” Ray Ban says on its website.

The style's popularity faded a bit in the '70s, made a resurgence in the early '80 and came back with a vengeance in the last few years with stars like Chloe Sevigny sporting them around town.

But unlike the original black Wayfarers of the 1950s, today there are colors. And lots of them.

Ray Ban alone offers over 37 colors, but the real market is in the $5 knock-offs. And anyone passing by a sunglass stand in New York City will see an endless variety.

So what is the draw to the colorful plastic shades? Is it their availability, quirkiness or the endless color varieties? Or maybe just the price?

“All of the above,” said Megan Kretz who wore bright green sunglasses on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights on Sunday.

“For me, they are a statement against serious glasses.”

Kretz, like many, has broken, scratched, lost, or sat on too many pairs of sunglasses to count. She doesn’t have to worry about that with her plastic colorful shades.

“They’re easy to find and cheap,” she said. “I can always get a new pair.”