Warby Parker is a new company operating in a new way. Very effectively riding the hipster wave, it offers choice and style in a simple, attractive way that feels streamlined and unfussy, which means it offers some of the best eyeglasses online, joining the ranks of vendors like GlassesUSA and FramesDirect. You never feel overwhelmed with unnecessary options, but never feel you’re missing anything crucial either.
Warby Parker wears its charity work on its sleeve and is one of the few companies bucking the internet trend, moving increasingly back towards bricks and mortar stores. It forgoes designer labels for a more affordable, own brand offering, but does it with such panache you’ll barely notice, and neither will anyone else. A pioneer of the ‘try at home’ box, this is a classy and convenient 21st-century option. It also sells some of the best contact lenses online, making it doubly attractive.
Warby Parker’s retail outlets are right the way across the US and beginning to creep in to Canada. We think that speaks to just how successful its business model has been and it’s not hard to see why.
Its stores are often advertised as having ‘independent optometrists’, another example of the freelance economy’s unstoppable spread. Having the backup of a real chain of stores lends a seriousness and gravity to Warby Parker’s business. These guys are in it for the long run.
Warby Parker review: How it works
- Excellent website
Year founded: 2010
Pricing starts: $95
Delivery time: 5-7 business days
Using Warby Parker’s website feels like being quickly and efficiently led through a sale in a beautiful, artisanal store. Hip and street-smart, not pushy, but always moving you forward towards the deal. There’s no doubt it’s a slick operation and all the better for it.
Site graphics are simple and beautiful, the text is direct and reassuring. Warby Parker doesn’t have some of the flashy toys available elsewhere, but that works in its favor too. The website lets you choose your frames, and then try them on your actual face at home, not a digitized balloon version of yourself on the site. Sometimes less really is more.
Warby Parker review: Buying
- Try-at-home pioneer
- Five day test of five pairs
The Home Try-On service is where Warby Parker made its name, and presumably where its success so far lies. An online quiz trims the sleek line down to a manageable selection.
It got us pegged just right first time and we could have chosen their first five suggestions from the rack in a store. It’s not complicated, the range isn’t huge, but we’d argue that’s where they get you.
The glasses look great and there’s not a lot of fuss choosing them. Win-win. The box you get from Warby Parker is half the fun of the process. Premium and classy, like a new iPhone or upmarket shoes. Ok we know unboxing is an annoying word but ‘opening’ doesn’t seem quite grand enough for this experience.
You’ve got five whole days with your five new pairs to road test them on your friends and potential friends. There’s no obligation and returns are free.
Warby Parker review: Style
- Not designer but classy
- Scratch and UV resistant as standard
Style is at the heart of Warby Parker’s offering, but a quiet, unshowy style. There are no designer labels on the website, just the company's own styles, prettily displayed on pretty faces. Smiling, scrubbed, preppy cherubs pop out from behind a stack of books at the New York Public Library. It’s almost too cute. Almost.
You won’t find the endless customizable options you might see on other sites; the frames have a couple of color options, but they are what they are. Similarly, there aren’t the dizzying lens alternatives you get elsewhere. Scratch and UV resistant coatings are included, and light filtering and responsiveness are available for a price, but there’s no mirrors or tints? What is this? The eighties? Get with it.
Warby Parker review: Prices
- FSA and HAS options
- From $95
Even with your lenses protected from ever ray known to man, you’re still only talking about a couple of hundred bucks for your finished glasses. The base price is $95, and they really do cost just that unless your prescription is complex. Shipping is always free, returns are free and you can pay with your FSA, HAS and the site offers insurance, and accepts payments from a range of other insurers.
That puts Warby Parker in the sweet spot as far as online shopping is concerned. Not prohibitively expensive, not so cheap that you’re wondering where it skimped.
Warby Parker review: Charity
- Buy A Pair Give A Pair
- Over Five million pairs given
Through projects both in the US and in countries with developing market throughout the world, Warby and Parker has distributed five million pairs of free or ultra-affordable prescription glasses and counting.
The Buy a Pair Give a Pair scheme gives people access to vision care and glasses, as well as training to make sure that eye care is available in the future. Its Pupils Project works with underfunded schools districts to make sure kids have access to vision screenings, eye exams and glasses at school.
Should you buy from Warby Parker?
Warby Parker is a slick, modern operation. It sells stylish, non-designer glasses in an entirely frictionless and pleasurable way. The ‘try at home’ box is a complete game-changer, it’s US based and gives to charity with every sale it makes.
For such a seamless service, We’d expect prices to be sky-high, or corners to be cut but Warby Parker’s experience oozes quality and unexpected value at every turn.
If there’s a downside, it’s the slightly limited range and a slight tendency towards hipster smugness, but all the glasses look terrific and the prices are keen. If you’re shopping for eyewear you need to give Warby Parker your full consideration.