↑ In my experience, in short: yes!
Warby Parker is an eyeglasses purveyor who saw an opportunity in an industry rife with middle-men and big markups. By designing their own, attractive eyewear and selling directly to customers online, they made it possible to drastically cut the cost to folks like me who are willing to give it a try. I replaced my glasses this year with a new pair from Warby Parker, so I wanted to share my experience!
Warby Parker first caught my eye (he he, see what I did there?) because of their social goal: they operate under the one-for-one concept. One pair of glasses purchased, one pair to someone in need. Intriguing!
I still cast wariness at these types of businesses because in some cases, the product is still junk, and it is still being manufactured in the same shady factories with the same enormous markup. For example, $60 shoes that cost $2 to produce now become $80 shoes that cost $4 to produce two of them. Hrrmmmm…
The one-for-one label can halt us from exploring any further, assuming that it’s all good. Furthermore, “giving”-type models can be damaging to the local economy, as explored in media like Poverty Inc. or When Helping Hurts. But, something good and selfless is definitely better than nothing, so these are the tensions we are wrestling through in these period of time in our wealthy culture. Ultimately, there are things to celebrate and we also need to have our critical eyes on.
I needed a new pair of glasses, so I started looking around and trying on pairs at the mall & my local optometrist’s office. My face is fairly narrow and can tend to be engulfed by specs, but I found a perfect size & shape. One drag: the $450 price tag. I have a pretty simple prescription, and I don’t even need to wear my glasses all the time. This seemed like an INSANELY high expense.
Online appealed to me; my biggest concern, though, was actual, real fit. There isn’t any fancy face-uploading tech on WP’s site, so you can’t see how the glasses will look on your face. The feature they do have is a home try-on service, but I am in Canada and I can’t access it. Regardless of where you are, if you’re like me, you want the best likelihood from the start that the glasses will work. The less hassle, the better.
I learned that on every pair of glasses, there is a set of numbers like this: 48-18-140. The first number refers to the lens diameter: the most relevant measurement to determine how wide the glasses will sit on your face. The second number is the bridge width, and the third is the arm length.
This was incredibly helpful information to have!! I started trying on glasses at every place I found, and when a pair looked good and fit well, I would take note of the measurements. This took me one step further than the Narrow/Medium/Wide descriptions.
Once I had a good idea of a range for the lens width, it narrowed down my search significantly. I chose two that I liked best, uploaded a picture of myself with a credit card in front of my face (for them to determine my pupillary distance) and one of my prescription, and that was it.
The best part: each pair of glasses was SO INEXPENSIVE. Glasses start at $95 USD ($150 CAD for most on the Canadian site). And that includes UV, anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings, as well as shipping, all of which were additional costs at traditional online optical sites. (I learned that there is one near-monopoly company that dominates the industry, owning the Oakley and Ray-Ban brands as well as the LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, and Sunglass Hut retail chains; because WP designs and produces their own glasses, and sells them directly, there is room to cut out a lot of the wholesale & middle-man money.)
[Extra points for their hilarious April Fool's campaign:]
The price also includes a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy and a one-year, no-scratch guarantee, meaning they will replace your lenses for free if they are scratched in the first 12 months. I took advantage of both of those benefits: I bought two pairs and returned the pair I didn’t want with no hassle (their customer service team actually, you know, serves the customer – extra bonus!) And, I got a gash in the first week, somehow scraping my glasses on the ceiling of our mini van while buckling a kid into a carseat (#momprobs). A brand new pair arrived within about a week.
In short, I have zero qualms recommending Warby Parker as an excellent source for eyeglasses! Here’s a summary of what I love:
Truly, the only problem I can foresee with Warby Parker is if you can’t find a design that you like (I promise, in spite of their ads – you are hip enough!); or, if you are interested in having a recognizable name brand.
If you are in need of a new pair of glasses, or even a spare, Warby Parker gets my approving eye ;) !
Before we get started… In case you are wondering: Yes, I am aware that dignify, here, where you’re reading this, is an online store! And that I sell things here.
Indeed, I want to sell kantha quilts — lots of them! But, in my desire to create opportunities for dignity for women sewing blankets in Bangladesh, I still want to preserve the dignity of our customers, and of ourselves.
When people speak of “charity”, what they are talking about is one-way work – how are other people benefiting from the charity that I am providing? How are their lives being changed by the money that I give?
Transforming lives of people in need is a good thing, an extraordinary thing! Charity is not a bad word.
However, true development is always a two-way street – both sides (benefactor and recipient) need each other to progress, to truly “develop”. The rich and the poor need each other to become whole.
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