That patch of hair that has bridged the gap between your two eyebrows is known as a unibrow. The bar that runs across the top of your sunglasses connecting the two lenses is known as a brow bar. The two are distinctly different. Furthermore, one is good and the other bad. Which is which depends on your personal preference.
Trends in sunglasses come and go as evidenced by the ever-evolving inventory offered by retailers and wholesale distributors. At Olympic Eyewear, a Salt Lake City-based wholesaler, they are constantly keeping an eye (pardon the pun) on emerging and fading trends. Right now, they have an eye on the brow bar trend.
Brow bar sunglasses still have a bridge connecting the two lenses in a manner that is reliable and structurally sound. There is no need for anything else from an engineering standpoint. So what is the brow bar about? It is a fashion statement.
You could make a case that the brow bar adds an extra measure of structural integrity, but that’s not why people buy sunglasses sporting them. Brow bars are popular because they are reminiscent of the earliest aviator sunglasses designed by Bausch & Lomb in the 1930s.
History of the Brow Bar
Bausch & Lomb devised the brow bar when the U.S. government commissioned them to come up with a pair of sunglasses for aviators. At that time, pilots found their bulky goggles both uncomfortable and visually restricting. The military wanted a replacement that would provide the necessary sun protection without the discomfort of goggles.
What Bausch & Lomb came up with ended up being the predecessor to the commercially available aviator glasses found in stores a decade later. The main feature of those glasses was the brow bar.
The brow bar was a structural component in Bausch & Lomb’s original aviator glasses. Keep in mind that flying back then was a lot more turbulent than it is today. The last thing military brass wanted was a pair of sunglasses that snapped in half after being jostled around by a bit of turbulence. The brow bar was the solution to that concern.
Fast forward to the release of the retail version of aviator sunglasses and you find the brow bar still intact. It wasn’t necessary from a structural standpoint, but Bausch & Lomb kept the original design in order to boost marketing. The rest, as they say, is history.
A New Look Back
By the 1960s and 70s, eyewear designers were losing interest in metal frames and brow bars. Their attentions were turning toward bulky plastic frames that were more amenable to different shapes and brighter colors. Before too long, the classic aviators with their brow bars were disappearing. Thank goodness someone kept them alive on a back shelf somewhere.
Both aviators and the brow bar are making a strong comeback as designers are taking a new look at the pre-1970s designs. More importantly, they are combining the classic aviator look with new innovations that are creating rather elegant and unique designs. As for the brow bar itself, it seems bigger than it was back in the 40s and 50s.
Designers seem to be making brow bars bigger and more visually intrusive. They are also using contrasting colors that set the bars apart. Where you might have a pair of sunglasses with discreet black frames and smoked gray lenses, the brow bar could easily be a bright gold color.
Who needs a unibrow when you can get brow bar sunglasses? Yes indeed, the brow bar is back in all of its aviator glory.