Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, co-founders of hip online eyewear brand Warby Parker — which sells trendy, affordable glasses with prescription lenses starting at $95 — recently opened the doors to their stylish new SoHo digs. Gilboa gives us a tour and tells us why we should spring for, say, pink glasses this summer.
Your website is so successful. Why open a brick-and-mortar shop?
We wanted to create a much more refreshing shopping experience considering glasses are a really fun accessory. All of our glasses are out in the open, so you can try them on. We have full-length mirrors and a lot of room to bring family members and other people just to get feedback. The act of buying glasses is a pretty social experience.
The boutique feels like a modern library.
For the design itself we wanted people to feel like they were walking into a great library. The name Warby Parker came from two early Jack Kerouac characters that we discovered at the New York Public Library. We took a lot of inspiration from there with really high ceilings and bookshelves stacked with reading material. In addition to glasses, we have really interesting books from 14 different publishers, including McSweeney’s and Dashwood, and have books from a lot of these new generation writers. We wanted to relate the ties Warby Parker has to academia and literature and I think, in general, glasses have a natural tie to reading and learning, so we wanted to build that into the store.
What are some eyeglass trends that you are loving, and which ones are over?
For a while, really thick, chunky glasses were in vogue — and now a lot of those people are moving toward thinner frames.
And as we enter spring and summer, people can take a little more risk with color. In the past, people wore the same pair for two to three years. Part of the reason why we launched Warby Parker is because we realized that we could make glasses affordable. If you can buy more pairs, you can take more risks, and have more fun with color. [You can] have some frames that you wear to work and then some frames that are a little bit more fun, for weekends or when you’re going out.
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Gilboa's tips for finding the perfect frame for your face
• You typically want the glasses shape to be the opposite shape of your face. If you have a really round face, you’ll look better in square glasses.
• You don’t want your eyebrows to be covered up by the frame, [because] then the frames are probably a little bit too big.