The real right stuff

American Optical Original Pilot for Duluth Trading Company

June 21, 2012 Style : Accessories By Photo by JH & NASA

Whether credit goes to Don Draper or not, there’s no denying the current popularity of aviator sunglasses. And while there is no shortage of brands to choose from, if you want the original, there’s only one choice: American Optical. The US military started issuing AO Aviator sunglasses to its pilots, sailors and soldiers way back in 1958 and the brand has been making them in the USA to the same spec ever since: bayonet temples, rectangular frames, sturdy welds and real glass lenses.

Want a testimonial? AO Original Pilots were the first sunglasses worn on the Moon, by astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong, and a pair resides in the Smithsonian — that’s astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (right) and Charles Conrad Jr. sporting a pair in the above photo. You may only ever wear yours to commute to the office but it’s nice to know they’ve been tested in the scorching UV rays of outer space. Better still, you can pick up a pair from Duluth Trading Company for little more than (military contract-inflated) 1969 pricing.

Buy Now: $53

Newsletter Sign-Up
Get the best new products, deals,
and stories in your inbox daily.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy to receive email correspondence from us.