Warby Parker wasn't the only company to realize that stylish glasses don't need to cost a fortune. Sure, many of those other companies were probably inspired by the successful startup's philosophy, but they all more or less have their own thing going.
A few are, like Warby, e-commerce startups. Tortoise & Blonde started out as an online-only purveyor of hipstery eyewear, but recently nabbed a deal with Urban Outfitters and now has little shop-in-shops at a few locations. Rivet & Sway sells exclusively through Glasses.com and charges $169 for the first pair and $99 for a second pair in the hopes that its customers will start shopping for glasses the way they shop for shoes.
Then, there are brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade, whose eyewear fits in with their pre-existing brand identities (albeit the former's is currently undergoing an overhaul). Kate Spade's is decidedly retro-inspired and feminine. Banana Republic does simple and classic and does it well. Super's slightly oversized, vintage-inspired frames are just really cool. Makeup guru Bobbi Brown was certainly not the first person we'd expect to do an eyewear line, but she nailed it. At a recent preview for Safilo's portfolio of brands, which include the likes of Dior, Céline and Saint Laurent, Brown's much more affordable designs were among my favorites.
The experience led me to wonder why anyone pays more than $200 for glasses at all. Is that tiny "Chanel" or "Prada" logo hardly anyone will see really worth it? Isn't good overall design -- which isn't what costs money -- more important?
I think so. Of course, I'm not saying you should start buying your glasses at Walmart either. Read on for a few brands who are producing stylish, good-quality eyewear for under $200/pair. And remember -- that doesn't necessarily include the cost of putting your prescription into the lenses.