Visioning a Better Future: A look into Warby Parker

Here at Fjordlife, we love nothing more than highlighting stories of brands who are true innovators in their fields. We can’t think of a better example of that than designer eyewear brand, Warby Parker.

Founded in 2010 by four classmates Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider; Warby Parker’s customer centric strategy and socially conscious business model have quickly turned them into a leading lifestyle brand. Success came quickly, the company reached its first year sales goal within three weeks of launching and within four years had distributed one million pairs of glasses. Today, Warby Parker is a B certified corporation valued at 1.2 billion with 175 employees. It comes as no surprise that in 2015 Fast Company named them the #1 most innovative company.
The idea for Warby Parker was first conceptualized by David Gilboa after accidentally leaving his $700 Prada frames on an airplane. David could not understand why an iPod worth $200, that did things no one believed could be done only a few short years ago, would actually cost less than his glasses. Something needed to change. At the time the eyewear industry was largely dominated by a single mega-corporation, Luxottica, which maintained great control over the pricing market. Founded in 1961, Luxottica’s retail network consists of more than 7,000 stores, including LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut stores. The company owns the optical shops in Target and Sears and chains throughout Europe and Asia. It also owns Ray-Ban, Oakley and Oliver Peoples. In addition to manufacturing its own eyewear, Luxottica controls the eyewear sector for most major fashion houses including Versace, Prada, Burberry, DKNY, Chanel and Ralph Lauren. In order to compete against such a powerhouse the Warby Parker founders knew they would have to do something creative and innovative. By designing and manufacturing their own frames and engaging directly with consumers through their online platform, they were able to produce and sell frames at a fraction of the cost of comparable frames and glasses. The vast majority of their eyeglasses sell for $95. By comparison, The National Association of Vision Care Plans puts the average price of eyeglasses at $263.
Even better than the business model is Warby Parker’s commitment to social innovation through the “buy one, give one” strategy. For every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need. It is believed that 90% of individuals with vision impairment live in the developing world and 703 million people could have their vision restored with a pair of glasses. Warby Parker has partnered with Visionspring, a non-profit for which co-founder Neil Blumenthal used to work, to help solve this. Rather than donating the glasses outright, the company makes cash donations every month from its sales. VisionSpring trains low-income men and women to sell glasses in their communities for affordable prices, allowing them to earn a living. This helps ensure the donations actually meet people’s needs and provides sustainable employment to local businesses. It also results in people receiving a pair of frames that is fit perfectly for them.
Warby Parker has recently released a new Summer 2016 Collection of sunglasses for both men and women. The Raglan in Himalayan Salt is a Fjordlife favourite (pictured below). 

With social innovation at the forefront and plans for more brick and mortar locations we are excited to see what’s next in store for Warby Parker! 




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