Eyewear History: James Dean & The Counterculture

The Original "Cool Daddy" 

Many would say that he died too young, still, in only 4 films he created a persona that still stirs our hearts today. Born in Indianapolis, in February 1931 as a young kid even he knew his multitude of talents and devotion to arts and dramatics would take him far, as discussed in his autobiography. He would then lead on to spawn an eternal vibe - The Original "Cool Daddy"… The one and only James Dean.

An LA native, Dean attended Santa Monica Junior College and UCLA, here is where his acting career started, performing in various stage plays, films, and more. At only 21 years old James Dean began making notable strides in his acting career. In the mid 50's he took a role in Jim Starks film Rebel Without A Cause, moved to Hollywood and the revolution began! James Dean became the embodiment of the American counterculture youth in the 50s.

The Counterculture Effect on Fashion and Eyewear

This Rebel Without A Cause also had a tremendous influence on fashion eyewear. Closely associated with the unpretentious but “Don’t get in my face!” Counter Culture, Dean's swagger dictated a simple but discerning look. Simply put, sunglasses defined who you were. It metered your attitude and soul. Rebel, poet, revolutionary, or lover, your shades said it all. Colored lenses, wired frames, plastic keyhole silhouettes, there was always an edge. A.J. Morgan has spent 40 years cultivating that rare spectacle collection, based on the Nifty Fifties legacy and its charismatic hero. Check out some of the popular silhouettes and styles of the time!
Brow-Line Glasses
The brow-line glass utilizes a thick top piece and a metal-wire piece for the rest of the frame. These frames accentuate the wearer's natural brow line, providing a sort of sophistication and discernment to the look. This style among the others heightened in popularity and became an influential accessory in the 50s. Prominent figures like Lyndon B. Johnson and Malcolm X were often seen sporting this style. The design over time has mostly remained the same but mostly in a change of materials that make the glass affordable for the everyday wearer such A.J. Morgan's Affordable Vintage-Inspired frames.
Horn Rimmed Glasses
The horn-rimmed glass has had its surges in popularity throughout history, but nothing like the significance of the 50s and our subculture idols. Initially, these glasses frames were made of tortoise shells or animal horns, however, over the years the materials have been swapped to imitate the original style. This increased their demand from both men and women who wore horn-rimmed glasses as they came in many colors and styles. The reduced cost of these glasses made it possible for all glasses-wearers to emulate their rebel idols. 
Incidentally, the other cultural phenomenon, the “Age of Innocence”, you know the swivel-hipped Memphis rockabilly also has an A.J. Morgan Eyewear connection. In his early years, young Elvis was dressed by Lansky Brothers whose traditional styles mixed with flashy designs remained Presley's favorite clothier throughout his career. That’s right, this is the same Lansky Brothers that have featured an array of AJ Morgan sunglasses over multiple generations, and so the saga continues…