Signature Elements of Persol Sunglasses. Origin, History, Current Use

History of Persol sunglasses began during the First World War in the Italian city of Turin. At that time, local photographer, Giuseppe Ratti, was spending a lot of time at the airport talking to the pilots. He noted that they often complained about sun glare. Since Ratti was a photographer and had some idea of the optics, I decided to take up the development of protective eyewear, which would be comfortable to wear and good enough to protect their pilots by the bright sun and wind.

He developed in 1917 Points Protector, consisting of two brown lenses, mounted in rubber with the strap around the head. This sunglasses model soon became widely used in the Italian air force. This model was even tested on an Italian aviator Francesco De Pinedo, during his trip across the Atlantic, which lasted 193 hours.

1957 marks a release of Persol 0649, made initially to Turin streetcar drivers to protect them from dust and wind. Streetcars at the time had fully ventilated doors on both sides and streets were much dustier than today. This and later version Persol 2978 brought the brand cult status and became an instant classic Persol.

Persol PO0649 Persol PO2978
Persol PO0649 Persol PO2978

Since the beginning Persol sunglasses are made out of acetate – material produced from the flowers of cotton. This plastic material is hyper-allergenic and warm on touch. Much attention was given to polish edges on the bridge and temple points to make sunglasses fit mostly ergonomically.

The temple contains a signature element Meflecto, consisting of nylon and metal cylinder inserted into acetate to make a flex effect. This innovative system provided a very comfortable feel on the head side as temple flexed around a head. Today, no other brand name uses this technology.

The temple and the frame is locked with a silver arrow Supreme, another signature Persol element that by shape reminds a sword. The very first design of the arrow was made by the founder of the company Giuseppe Ratti, but since undergone dozens of variations.

While brand changed commercial ownership many times in the past 100 years, the manufacturing process remains heavily labour intensive and hand made. The classic models are still best sellers and reputation has sustained a century of economical cycles that did not affect the brand. Quality is beyond profit – is a famous motto of the company.

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