As a retailer of designer sunglasses, you know your customers think the products you sell are cool. You also know that some people buy sunglasses based solely on how cool they look. Have you ever stopped to question why that is? No one really knows for sure, but scientists have been trying to figure it out for quite some time.
In a fascinating Esquire article published in March 2021, contributor Murray Clark discussed the relationship between cool sunglasses and Hollywood villains. The piece is a fascinating read. In it, Murray touches on a number of studies attempting to explain why people behave the way they do when their eyes are obscured by shades.
None of the studies definitively answer the question of why people think sunglasses are cool. But the fact that they are such an important prop in Hollywood may offer a previously overlooked clue. Our obsession with cool sunglasses might be nothing more than pop-culture influence.
Worn by the Stars
From a functional standpoint, you can trace the history of sunglasses back to ancient Inuit cultures that made protective eyewear from animal bones. What eventually became modern sunglasses didn’t really launch until the late 1920s and early 30s. So what happened? Hollywood got involved.
It is generally accepted that entrepreneur Sam Foster was the first to mass-market designer sunglasses in the late 1920s. Hollywood stars, wanting to go out in public without revealing their identities, latched onto them. It didn’t take long for Foster’s shades to make the journey from Hollywood to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk.
Eyewear designers have relied on celebrity to push their products ever since. As a retailer, you know full well that it only takes a single appearance by an A-list actor or runway model to spike demand for a particular brand or model.
We Idolize the Stars
Kudos to the fashion industry figuring out how to use celebrity to their advantage. Their marketing executives know that we idolize the stars. We see them and we want to be like them. Give a star a pair of sunglasses and let them do their thing. Your brand will explode overnight.
The most fascinating aspect of all of this is the fact that we associate celebrity with being cool. In fact, cool is defined by what celebrities do. If a celebrity thinks wearing a pair of Olympic Eyewear designer sunglasses is cool, then it is. If a celebrity says voting is cool, you can take it to the bank.
Running with the Crowd
Celebrity influence notwithstanding, there is another component at play: peer pressure. Think about it. When you were in school, there were one or two kids everyone else thought was cool. You and your friends wanted to be like them.
We like to think that we outgrow peer with age. We don’t. None of us likes to stick out like a sore thumb. We all want to blend in with the crowd. So if the vast majority of people are doing something in particular, you equate that behavior with being cool. It is cool because everyone else is doing it.
Designer sunglasses have become so prolific that just about everyone owns at least one pair. If a trend catches on, the desire to be part of the crowd can be a powerfully motivating thing.
In the end, the psychology behind why people think sunglasses are cool doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they buy your products. Take advantage of the cool mindset to reach your customers where they are. Sell by showing them just how cool your sunglasses really are.