Schoolyard taunts and bookworm stereotypes aside, eyeglasses have accompanied many a trailblazer into the annals of iconic style. For the latest generation attempting to achieve the bookish vibe of Buddy Holly and Woody Allen, however, a glut of expensive eyewear has made the market a potentially prohibitive one. Declaring the state of the industry unacceptable, four bespectacled students at Wharton decided to try and level the playing field. With a potent blend of good design, economic savvy, and customer service, the masterminds behind affordable prescription eyewear line Warby Parker are slowly democratizing the industry both stateside and abroad.
Named for Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper, two of Jack Kerouac’s early fictional characters, Warby Parker’s first collection consists of twenty-seven limited-run styles inspired by vintage frames. The handcrafted cellulose acetate glasses boast grandfatherly names like Fillmore, Miles, and Huxley to complement their sturdy, old-world charm. Yet the frames are hardly carbon copies of their vintage predecessors; they’re available in black and various tortoise variations, as well as bright purples and greens.
The glasses are only sold through Warby Parker’s website, which keeps each custom-fitted pair at a manageable price of $95. In order to recreate the experience of visiting an eyewear boutique, the company is willing to send five pairs for customers try on at home for free.