|Products||Eyewear and sunglasses|
|Owner||Safilo Group S.p.A.|
Edwin Land, born in 1909 in Connecticut, invented Polaroid, the world's first polarizing material for commercial use, in 1929. He founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company initially produced Polaroid Day Glasses, the first sunglasses with a polarizing filter.
In 1935 Land negotiated with American Optical Company to produce polarized sunglasses. Such glasses could screen out glare rather than simply darken the landscape. Land and Wheelwright contracted to begin production of Polaroid Day Glasses, a longtime source of revenue for Polaroid.
With venture capital from railroad tycoon W. Averill Harriman and merchant banker and part-time songwriter James P. Warburg, Edwin Land, George Wheelwright, and Julius Silver incorporated Polaroid Corporation on September 13, 1937. Polaroid began the manufacturing of polarizing sheet for windows in railroad observation cars.
In 1939 Day Glasses were the source of most of Polaroid's $35,000 profit. Although sales rose to $1 million in 1941, the company's 1940 losses had reached $100,000, and it was only World War II military contracts that saved Land and his 240 employees. By 1942 the wartime economy has tripled Polaroid's size. A $7 million navy contract to work on the Dove heat-seeking missile project is the largest contract Polaroid has ever had, though the bomb is not used during World War II.
Polaroid produced a number of other products for the Armed Forces, including a device that determined an aircraft's elevation above the horizon, an infrared night viewing device, goggles, lenses, color filters for periscopes, and range finders. At the beginning of its history Polaroid produced polarized sheets to be used for the elimination of automobile headlight glare. For the same reason sunglasses and filters were use by the American Army, especially for aviation, indeed Polaroid glasses were thought to protect aviator from sun light but also atomic bomb explosions.
Cool-Ray was a division of American Optical for the sunglasses. It was the originator of the polarized sunglass as it is known today. It manufactured the lenses using a process that was licensed from Polaroid Corporation. Cool-Ray paid Polaroid a royalty in the early 1940s.
In 1965 Polaroid moved its production in Vale of Leven in Scotland, a few years later in 1972 the production of sunglasses was added. It promotes a number of programs in the community on the health theme. Polaroid is the major sponsor of a series of 10K road races, which take place each June over various courses in west Dunbartonshire. In the next decades other plants were opened in Europe, South America and Far East.
In the 1960s the designer Oleg Cassini collaborated with Cool Ray and his influence is clear in many Polaroid models. In the 1980s Polaroid launched aviator styles with interchangeable lenses in collaboration with tennis star Boris Becker. Kenneth Grange, renowned designer from Pentagram Design Partner, designed the unique IMAGE style in the 1980s.
The original Polaroid Corporation filed for federal bankruptcy protection on October 11, 2001. The outcome was that within ten months, most of the business (including the "Polaroid" name itself and non-bankrupt foreign subsidiaries) had been sold to Bank One's One Equity Partners (OEP). OEP Imaging Corporation then changed its name to Polaroid Holding Company (PHC). However, this new company operated using the name of its bankrupt predecessor, Polaroid Corporation.
Petters Group Worldwide, the owner of the Polaroid brand at the time, sold Polaroid Eyewear to specialist eyewear company StyleMark in March 2007. StyleMark is a global distributor of fashion, sport, and children's sunglasses.
In 2018, Polaroid launched Heritage, a unique project that brings together capsule collections from different eras, starring original pieces revisited in line with the latest trends and retraces the brand’s history, from the 1930s to today. Each collection features timeless silhouettes reinterpreted with a contemporary twist, embodying an aesthetic that goes beyond fashion trends. The Heritage collection is not just a jump into the past, it is a tribute to the amazing innovation capacity that has always characterized the brand, since its origins.
Polarization and eyes
Visible light waves from the sun travel in all directions. When this scattered light meets a horizontal surface, like a road or water, a large portion of the light is reflected with horizontal polarization. This horizontally-polarized light is seen as white glare, and masks light that is useful to the human eye, reducing visibility. Horizontal light, however, simply creates glare. Glare, also called visual noise, reduces visibility and makes it uncomfortable, painful and dangerous to carry on driving, cycling, skiing or even just sunbathing. While non-polarized lenses just make things look darker, Polaroid polarized sunglasses guarantees more comfort and less glare. By using a sheet of vertical polarizing material, the horizontally-polarized component can be significantly attenuated, reducing the overall light level reaching the eye. This improves contrast, and thus perception of the scene.
The core element is the polarizing light filter. UV light absorbers are bonded to both sides of it. These block all harmful UVA, UVB, and UVC light rays. Shock-absorbing layers are then fused to both sides of the UV absorbers, making the lens light, flexible and impact resistant. A scratch-resistant layer on both the outer surfaces completes the lens structure.
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- "StyleMark to Acquire Polaroid Eyewear International; Creates New Global Sunglass Power" (Press release). StyleMark. March 6, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- "Safilo to acquire Polaroid Eyewear" (Press release). Ophthalmology Times. Nov 30, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- "Safilo Debuts Polaroid Eyewear Heritage Project Capsule Collection".
- "Polaroid Technology". Polaroid Eyewear.