A new year. New eyeglasses. It seemed like an easy enough style upgrade until I started to shop for frames and found myself muttering "why does anything with a look cost $400?" There are a few reasons. Designer glasses are ridiculously expensive because much like Big Oil and Big Pharma there is Big Optometry. Safilo and Luxotica are two mondo manufacturers who also design and market glasses for fashion names like Chanel, Gucci, Prada and Ralph Lauren. Luxotica also owns retailers Sunglass Hut and Lens Crafters. So the cost of seasonal ad campaigns and mall real estate are factored into the price of every pair of frames.
After a little online research I discovered Warby Parker which sells retro-inspired frames for around $95 a pair including prescription lenses. The one year old company eliminates the retail middle man with frames of their own design that they sell from their online store. You have a few options when you shop. The site has facial recognition technology so upload a picture of your face and try on virtual glasses. I prefer a hands on approach so the company mailed me five loaner frames of my choosing to try at home. I was impressed. The glasses were lightweight enough to avoid slipping but felt comfortable and sturdy on my face. The loaners are returnable if you don't strike gold. Choose your frames and enter your prescription information online including the distance between your pupils ( an optician can easily measure this for you) and that's it. Chic-looking and well-priced glasses for a fraction of the cost of designer frames. And for every pair of frames sold WP provides a free pair of eyeglasses to someone in need in the U.S. or the developing world.
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