Warby Parker, a new company that specializes in quality eye wear, has not only created buzz in the eyeglasses industry, but may be drastically changing the market for prescription glasses as well. Warby Parker creates fashion-forward frames that compete with the styles of today’s top designers like Moscot and Luxottica. Although Warby Parker has just a few stores in the United States, the majority of their sales – and their marketing – is targeted towards audience primarily based online.

 

With their Home-Try-On program, trendy styles, and prices that are as low as $95.00 for both prescription lenses and frames, Warby Parker seems like a no-brainer for individuals in the market for new eyewear. Warby Parker’s business model aside, how do their frames match up to designer eyeglasses and what does this mean for the future of optical boutiques?

 

Warby Parker Frames (www.artintheage.com)

Warby Parker Frames (www.artintheage.com)

The idea of looks versus quality plays an imperative role here. When you hold a pair of Warby Parker glasses in your hands it is clear that they cost $95.00, as they very well should. The plastic is lighter and the construction seems slightly less sturdy than the heavy plastic frames you might find at your local optometrist’s office. However, from two or three feet away the quality of the frame is unnoticeable.

 

When we tried the glasses on we noticed that the width of the frames seemed to run on the thinner side, and fit tightly on both normal and wide face shapes. Fit aside, the designs are top notch, and the website holds a variety of unique styles that individuals are sure to find one they like — although plastic frames heavily outweigh rimless or titanium looks.

 

What’s more is that arguably there will always be an audience for designer eyewear. Some people will strategically search for designs over designer names, while others may prefer merchandise that has a brand name they recognize. For these customers optical boutiques will always hold something that Warby Parker cannot provide: a prestigious logo.

 

Designer glasses like Persol, Ray Ban, Oakley, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana are all owned or made by Luxottica, a $20 billon company that produces about 65 million pairs of glasses a year. The company controls the industry in all ways. From Sunglass Hut to Sears Optical, Luxottica owns most eyeglass stores in the world. In fact, even Eyemed, the leading eye insurance company in the United States, is owned by Luxottica.

 

Up until now there has been no competition to the Luxottica monopoly. According Fast Company, “Breaking this monopoly is the reason Warby Parker has been so successful… They were able to cut the cost of designer glasses in half while managing 60%+ operating margins and doing so while still donating a free pair for each one they sell.”

 

Warby Parker’s success is undeniable, as they are reaching both younger generations as well as professionals, all the while competing against an international super-company like Luxottica. It is unlikely that their success will surpass that of Luxottica’s monopoly, but the fact that they have succeeded as newcomers in such a tightly run eye-wear industry is impressive as it is.

 

We look forward to see what is next for Warby Parker, and intrigued by the competitive angle that the start-up company has brought to the eyeglass industry.

 

What are your thoughts on the eyeglasses industry? Leave your comments below or tweet me @LydiaYekalam