Bob Dylan Sunglasses

The Sunglasses Worn by Legendary Musician Bob Dylan

Bob Dyan is a musical legend. With a career that spans over 5 decades, his music and lyrics have inspired countless musicians over the years, and now in his 80s shows no signs of slowing down with his so-called ‘Never Ending Tour’ still going to this day. Over the first few decades of his musical career, Dylan made a name for himself as a fashion icon with his 

There is much debate as to the sunglasses worn by esteemed music legend Bob Dylan. This is down to the fact he has never publicly specified to glasses themselves and as a very private individual has to stay outside the spotlight over this career that spans over 50 years. 

That being said, due to Dylan’s fame, many have speculated as to the exact brand of sunglasses he was first documented wearing at his Newport concert in 1964. Dylan had just returned from Europe and many speculate it was here that he purchased the sunglasses which would go on to define his iconic style for a generation. Let’s now go into detail, look at the facts, and try to understand what pair of sunglasses Bob Dylan wore. 

A short clip of Dylan wearing his iconic shades

What we already know about Dylan’s Sunglasses

The first thing we know about Dylan’s iconic sunglasses is their style. There’s no doubt that Dylan wore, at present, an unbranded pair of Wayfarers. Wayfarers themselves were first designed and patented by American designer Raymond Stegman. At the time Raymond worked for Bausch & Lomb who at the time owned a glasses brand you might be familiar with – Ray Bans.

Ray-Ban launched their first Wayfarer sunglasses in 1952 which coincides with around the same time Bob Dylan was first photographed wearing his famous pair. The design of Wayfarers was inspired by a mid-century classic and was meant to reflect a timeless look at could withstand age and be popular throughout the ages. To this day, Wayfarers are still one of the most popular eyewear styles in the world.

But this wasn’t without teething problems. Ray-Ban wasn’t always the esteemed and famed brand we know today. Sales of Wayfarers contained to decline during the 1950s and 60s with rivals being aided through celebrities and movies promoting the eyewear. A deal struck by Ray Ban in 1982 led the glasses to be worn in over 60 movies leading to a huge surge in popularity and aiding their longevity that’s still very much present in the 21st century.

Dylan’s Sunglasses: The Speculation

The real fact of the matter is we’re not entirely sure as to the exact make/brand of sunglasses Dylan Wore. A Reddit thread in the popular subreddit /r/bobdylan often debates the exact brand he may have worn based on the dates we know he first started wearing them. An excerpt found on the website Expecting Rain had this to say:

”On Wayfarers the protruding metal joint-hinges on the outer edges of the front are horizontal (and also were horizontal on mid-1960s Wayfarers). The Dylan sunglasses have vertical and in some shots no visible hinges at all. Also the Dylan sunglasses have a different overall shape, being slightly narrower. It is possible that the shades are different Ray Ban models (Ray Ban being the brand manufactured by Bausch & Lomb), but they could also be other early–mid 1960s brands/models like Zeiss. The shape is typical of the period. Dylan may even have picked them up while in Europe in 1964, because their first documented appearance with him seems to be at Newport ’64 shortly after the European trip”.

This analysis very much confirms what many people already knew. Since Wayfarers were patented in 1952 by Ray-Bans the probability they were indeed from Ray-Bans themself is compelling. That being said after browsing through old 1950s catalogs from Ray-Ban it’s impossible to find the exact glasses he wears. The Sunglasses of Dylan are most unusual thanks to the distinctive Brass Rivets in an upside-down triangular shape (located on both sides of the frame).

The Closest Pair I’ve Found…

As previously said the most distinctive feature of Dylan’s wayfarers is the brass rivets on either side of his sunglasses. I spent countless hours trying to match vintage eyewear and sold ebay listings and antique catalogs from 60 years ago. After all this work I was none the wiser until I stumbled upon a Reddit thread from 2020 by user BrettCates. He posted an image (see below) of what he said are a pair of Dylan’s famous mystery sunglasses – and I must say – the resemblance is uncanny.

Apart from the same shape (Wayfarers) the Brass Rivets perfectly match the ones Dylan has been a photographer throughout the years. This was a fantastic discovery, but my excitement quickly faded as I realized that this pair, similar to Dylan’s pair, seem to be unmarked with little to no signs on the glasses as to which brand it comes from.

The Most Logical Conclusion

We might never know the exact brand worn by Bob Dylan. This is a case lost to time, although people will continue to try and discover the exact brand of these pair of sunglasses. For now, your best bet for finding similar-style glasses worn by Bob Dylan is defiantly Ray-Bans Wayfarers (the vintage kind). since they are the most agreed upon within the community. Modern Ray-Bans (since Luxottica Group bought Ray-Bans in 1999) are of poorer quality compared to those produced when the company was owned by Bausch & Lomb.