If youve ever worn prescription eyeglasses, you are more then familiar with the agony of having to shell out hundreds of dollars each time you need a new pair. If youre any bit as clumsy as I am, its probably because you sat on your brand new $400 frames for the third time this year. So you can imagine my excitement when I first heard about Warby Parker Eyewear. Besides the fact that each pair of stylish frames are under $100, Warby Parker is also helping those in need, one pair of glasses at a time.
I got a chance to chat with Neil Blumenthal, one of the four founding members of Warby Parker.
First off, let’s start with the name Warby Parker. How did you come up with it?
We had a very good idea for what we wanted for the brand something classic, American, sophisticated, not overly serious and something revolutionary and transformative. So in coming up with the name, we looked to some literary figures, including Jack Kerouac. After reading some of his unpublished journals, we came across two of his characters, named Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper. We thought it was fun and different, with a little Waspy feel.
You partner with a number of non-profits. Besides RestoringVision.org, what are some of the other big names you work with?
Well, right now were launching a pilot with VisionSpring, in which every pair of glasses they sell to a parent, the child will get a free pair. We also just launched a pink frame for breast cancer and partnered with Susan G. Komen for the cure.
Warby Parker’s Limited edition Japhy frame to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure, $150, at Warbyparker.com
When GQ calls you the Netflix of eyewear, you know you’ve made it. Did you ever think WP would end up becoming such a fashion craze?
Fashion was the most important part of it for us. Glasses are fun. I think you should have 10 pairs for 10 moods, just like you have 10 bags and 10 pair of shoes. So while weve not necessarily worked in the industry, we considered ourselves pretty fashionable whether shopping for sneakers in Tokyo or a bow tie in Louisville, Kentucky. I learned most about fashion through my wife Rachel, who has a contemporary jewelry line, called Rachel Leigh.
What inspired you guys to go with the whole vintage aesthetic (which we love by the way)?
We are paying homage to our family. We so often looked to grandfathers and fathers as inspiration. Its 1950s classic America, probably what our grandfathers would wear to work. The monocle is actually modeled after Andys grandfathers monocle. Our parents were more hippies, so while we didnt necessarily look to them for the fashion aspect, we got the revolutionary and progressive part from them.
Speaking of the monocle, were kind of obsessed with the monocle in your collection. Do you have a favorite pair of glasses from the current or upcoming collections?
Yes, The Huxley in Whiskey Tortoise (pictured below). Men’s Huxley frame, $95, at Warbyparker.com
Do you wear glasses? If so, what age did you start wearing them?
Its pretty embarrassing, but I have 20/20 vision. I still rock glasses though.
Now completely off topic, we read youre a big Hall & Oates fan! My favorite song of theirs is “Rich Girl.” Do you have a favorite?
That would be Maneater, but Rich Girl is definitely a close second!
All photos courtesy of Warby Parker