On their website, the founders of Warby Parker sum themselves up with the words “a penchant for outrageous outfits, an affinity for vintage collectibles and a strong desire to make the world a better place”. It is true that the brand covers all these bases, and more, but let’s dig a little dipper. Warby Parker is a start-up eyewear company founded in 2010 by 4 friends who were all at the Wharton School, Philadelphia.
Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, Jeffrey Raider and David Gilboa brought to each other a wealth of different qualifications and skills and combined them to produce a budget eyewear brand that can seriously compete against big name designer brands on the style front. Between them their experience covers everything from directing a non-profit eyewear company, studying eyewear design and trekking across the Antarctic! In a market dominated by large companies, there existed no budget option for customers who did not want to compromise on style, and this is exactly the gap that Warby Parker has filled.
Rule of Thumb: Give a Little, Gain a Lot
A main difference between Warby Parker and other, more traditional, eyewear companies is that they started out selling eyewear over the internet, modernizing the eyewear industry. Their strong digital presence and cheap, fashionable frames meant that Warby Parker was an immediate hit. Consumers in the 21st century require a fast paced buying experience along with instant satisfaction and this is what Warby Parker is all about.
Founder Neil Blumenthal was the former director of not-for-profit company Visionspring, which provides glasses to people who would not otherwise be able to afford them. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that Warby Parker has a company philosophy of providing glasses that are affordable. This social consciousness extends further than just to Warby Parker customers; for every pair of glasses sold, another pair is donated to charity (100,000 glasses in 2011!). They also have a strong partnership with “Pencils of Promise”, a non-profit organisation which builds schools and develops educational facilities in deprived areas.
The glasses that Warby Parker sell are all designed in-house to keep costs as low as possible, with eyewear being sold at just $95. This is a direct contradiction of the glasses produced by mainstream and larger eyewear companies, as these products typically go through several middlemen before reaching the consumer, all of whom mark the price up. It is one of the reasons why Warby Parker is able to price their glasses so competitively. It is one of the reasons why Warby Parker is such a well-loved brand. Customers know that they should not have to pay $400 for designer glasses, yet at most eyewear shops the budget options are typically old-fashioned and unappealing. Warby Parker sells glasses at affordable prices, yet the styles are edgy and fashionable.
Overcoming the Challenges of Online Shopping
Warby Parker has transformed the way that people go about buying eyewear. Their incredibly flexible try before you buy scheme allows customers to try up to 5 pairs of glasses at home for free before committing to one. The fact that customers cannot physically try on glasses over the internet was perhaps one of Warby Parker’s biggest challenges that they had to overcome. Most people would not buy a pair of glasses that they had not had the opportunity to try on their face beforehand, however the Warby Parker home trial scheme seems to overcome this problem and allow users to see the glasses in real life before buying them. They also have a more high tech alternative – customers are able to upload a photo of themselves and superimpose the glasses onto their face. The pictures can be shared on Facebook and other social media sites, which appeals to the modern consumer.
Another feature of Warby Parker is that they have 12 showrooms which have been opened up across America. These are rented spaces within other eyewear retailers, but they have dedicated Warby Parker employees to assist customers who are looking to buy a pair of Warby Parker glasses. More recently, they have opened up a flagship store in New York, which saw some 4000 people walk through the doors in the first three weeks!
People grow to love Warby Parker because of their customer service, which they place a lot of importance upon. Whether it is answering customer queries in a Youtube video or ringing up your optometrist to find our your prescription for you, the people at Warby Parker want to go that extra step to make your glasses buying experience a great one. This is the sort of thing that has gained the company a loyal following, who will not only buy their glasses from Warby Parker but encourage their friends and family to do so as well.
Stylish Glasses that Not Only Hipsters Will Wear
Warby Parker have been described as having “the Midas touch” when it comes to tapping into the quirky hipster culture that people love. Their glasses are urban and hip but with a touch of nerdy cool thrown in as well. Although their frames come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and colors, they all have some similarities that marks them out as Warby Parker. All the frames are simple, with understated colors but it is the sleek, stylish shapes that really marks them out as something special. The website is minimalistic and lets the glasses speak for themselves. For the most fashionable nerd glasses that Warby Parker has to offer, head to the new fall collection page on their website.
The half-rim “Ripley’s” are the ultimate in geek chic, with their brown rims, round shape and solid, outward flicking corners. The “Holcomb” is another example of great nerd glasses frames. It is a subtle cats-eye shape and comes in either “marbled sandstone” which is a light stone color and is sure to stand out with any outfit, or “oak barrel” which is a more mainstream dark brown color. Finally, try out the “Duckworth”, with really thick, brown frames in a horn-rimmed shape.