It all began in Turin, Italy, in 1917, when photographer and optician Giuseppe Ratti developed what he called Protectors. These glare-reducing glasses for pilots not only protected them from sunlight but were also comfortable to wear.
Featuring round, smoked lenses and rubber-lined frames attaching to the wearer’s head with elastic bands, Ratti’s Protectors became a staple among aviation and motorsport enthusiasts. The style was soon adopted by armed forces worldwide, including the Swiss Military and the United States Air Force (then, the Army Air Corps).
Throughout the 1920s, Ratti further developed his Protectors, crafting lenses from pure silica and tinting them in his now-signature yellow-brown with a special “en masse” manufacturing process. The tint guaranteed protection from the sun’s harmful rays, a method unique at the time only to Ratti’s sunglasses.
Soon, the Persol brand name was born. Although “Persol” sounds extraordinarily fabulous, the term is incredibly pragmatic — it is merely an abbreviation of the Italian words “per il sole,” meaning “for the sun.”