Warby Parker is life-changing.
I think they first jumped out at me after Julia Roy bought a pair and tweeted about it. I started doing research on the company, and the very first thing I noticed was their clean and user-friendly site design. They seemed to have a clear point of view about who they are as a company, and it was hard to ignore their cool vibe.
I also was intrigued by their “buy a pair, give a pair” mantra. For every pair purchased, they donate a pair to a person in need — kind of like TOMS shoes, but for eyewear. They call it “eyewear with a purpose.”
The next thing I did was check out the frames, of course. Total hipster. Total geek. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone a bit, and what I saw was everything I was looking for in a new pair of glasses.
But this kind of social good can’t come cheap, right? Wrong. $95 for a pair of prescription glasses, plus free shipping. They address this very issue on their site:
“A collaboration between four close friends, Warby Parker was conceived as an alternative to the overpriced and bland eyewear available today. Prescription eyewear simply should not cost $300+. The industry is controlled by a few large companies that have kept prices artificially high, reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options. By circumventing traditional channels and engaging with our customers directly through our website, Warby Parker is able to provide higher-quality, better looking prescription eyewear for under $100.”
Next question: How do I know which pair is best for me? Answer: Home Try-On. Warby Parker lets you select five of your favorite pairs, shipped to you for free, that you can wear to your heart’s content for five days. They encourage you to crowdsource your final decision by posting your options on networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the company itself is highly participatory in the process. A few examples:
Perhaps I’m easily amused, but I was thrilled that they were not only paying attention to what I was saying about them, but that they actually cared about guiding me through the glasses-buying experience. You get the impression that their employees truly enjoy working there and have a passion for the products, and they effortlessly pass that excitement on to the customer.
Friends and family gave me amazing feedback about the five pairs I tried, and I’d like to think I introduced a few people to the brand who otherwise wouldn’t have known about it. The funny thing is I actually felt more confused after my Home Try-On, and I found myself wanting to buy every pair.
I let it marinate for a few weeks before I decided I’d go to the WP store in SoHo to make up my mind. The location is small, with no signage to speak of, but it totally feels like Warby Parker. Vintage bikes sit next to a shelf of books, while the frames rest comfortably nearby. I tried on all of my original pairs again, wanting to feel warm and fuzzy about the Thatcher, the thickest pair of black-rimmed glasses they have, but ultimately deciding that they were a little too big for my taste. I had almost fully committed to the Nedwin, a sensible, stylish pair that complimented my face shape, when I saw what turned out to be the Preston, and threw them on on a whim.
That was my a-ha moment, and I promptly made my purchase online a day later. After two days — I’m almost positive they upgraded my shipping — I was already enjoying my brand-new specs. I’ve gotten more compliments about them than any other other piece of flair I’ve ever worn, and I can actually see things in the distance again.
To say I am a happy customer would be an understatement. A clean site, combined with an awesome product and social media savvy, means I’m a Warby Parker fan for life.