This summer I needed new glasses. Badly. After inadvertently stepping on my beloved green ones last semester, I ran around campus with crooked frames perched on my nose. Once I arrived home I decided to shop around for a new pair but immediately encountered a major obstacle … the price. Ahem, I am a college student on a college student’s budget. I don’t have 260 bucks to blow on a pair of Elizabeth and James glasses no matter how drool worthy they are. The solution came from — as it usually does — the Internet.
Online eyestores have been stealthily multiplying, offering high quality eyewear with low prices and most importantly, awesome design. A few of them have been making quite the splash, replacing storefronts and slowly becoming go-to places. These stores don’t sacrifice quality or design for price by cutting out the middle man and manufacturing the glasses themselves. Most designers don’t actually produce their own frames, instead authorizing manufactures to do so. On top of that, they have pay distributors and thus increasing the cost of glasses tenfold.
I’ve compiled my three favorite online eyewear places, starting with:
- Warby Parker: Currently the frontrunner in eyewear sites with vintage-inspired unisex glasses that only cost 95 dollars including prescription lenses, free shipping and returns. The lenses are made from polycarbonate and boast anti-reflective/anti-scratch coating. You can choose up to five styles sent to your house for five days, making it possible for everyone to physically try frames on at their own leisurely pace. They also feature a virtual try-on system where you can upload your photo and try on the frame. They occasionally will feature collaborations as well as limited edition glasses. Named after two Jack Kerouac characters, this online store is a huge favorite among hipsters everywhere. For every pair bought, they donate a pair to someone in need.
- Classic Specs: This online store has its headquarters in Brooklyn and offers cool, chic glasses for a mere 89 dollars with free shipping and anti-reflecting/anti-scratch coating, not to mention made-in-Italy frames with polycarbonate lenses. For stronger prescriptions, they recommend switching to high-index, a thinner and lighter material, for an extra 20 dollar charge. They occasionally feature other brands as well at reasonable prices. They’ve partnered with New Eyes for the Needy and 6 percent of every purchase is donated to the group.
- Tortoise and Blonde: This super trendy online eyewear store is perfect for those looking for Mad-Men inspired specs. Although prices can be a tad steeper than the above, it is still a much preferred option. These frames cost between 97 and 117 dollars and come in a multitude of hues and shades. Their virtual try-on mirror (free) and home try-on service (1 dollar) ensure that you love the glasses you’re about to purchase before actually emptying your bank account. Like other internet eyewear stores, they’ve partnered with a charity, Eye Care 4 Kids, and donate the one dollar from the home try-on service to them.
So all my four-eyed compatriots trying to navigate the world of glasses, look no further than the internet for cute but reasonably priced pairs. Let me know how it feels when you buy your first frames at the fraction of the price you anticipated!