We were always told that wearing eyeglasses made us look smarter. In our youth, we were convinced it was just our parents' way of making us feel better about the unflattering bargain frames that masked half of our face, but nowadays we would be inclined to agree with them. Having discovered new prescription eyewear that makes it possible to actually retain a sense of style - and, in some cases, also help out those in need - we feel smarter already.
We like to change our frames to suit our mood, but considering the hefty price tag of a pair of specs, our mood has remained unchanged as of late. Offering a pick-me-up is NYC-based Warby Parker, an eyewear company that allows those lacking 20/20 vision to express their personality at only $95 a pair - including the cost of prescription lenses and shipping. (By cutting out middlemen and designing and manufacturing in-house, the company is able to significantly reduce prices.) For those choosy four-eyes who may be wary of purchasing a pair online, Warby Parker provides two options to find frames that fit your face: their virtual try-on booth
or a free 5-day home trial period that allows shoppers to give up to five styles a test drive before committing. Sweetening the deal even further, the company also partners with Restoring Vision
, through whom they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. And, hey, any company that attempts to bring back the monocle
is a company we can get behind.
It has come to our attention that small batch products now extend beyond our favorite artisanal chocolate bars
and indie booze
, as London-based PRISM is turning out small quantities of über-stylish, yet still classic, specs. Designed for the truly fashion-forward who take a head-to-toe approach when it comes to the aesthetics of their look, the frames are as unique as the wearer, but are still functional for those who can't function without them. Each pair is handmade in a family-run factory in northern Italy that uses traditional techniques; no molds are used, but rather the frames are hand-carved from an archive of colorful acetate blocks that date back to the mid-1800s. Inspired by vintage eyewear and European street style
, the glasses have a decidedly modern edge despite their traditional assembly - not to mention each pair comes with an awe-worthy case
that commands displaying in any cabinet of curiosity.?
Portland-based 141 Eyewear has been compared more than once to TOMS Shoes
, and while their products are different, their philanthropic business models are certainly in sync. Doing exactly as its name implies, 141's founders (Kyle Yamaguchi, a Nike designer, and Shu-Chu Wu, an optician) founded the company on the premise, "You buy. We Give. One four (for) one" - meaning that with each pair of spectacles bought by a nearsighted hipster, money will go towards supplying a new pair of glasses to a child who couldn't afford them otherwise. The do-gooder company has already hosted a clinic
in Taiwan earlier this year, giving away more than 200 new pairs of glasses to families hit by Typhoon Morakot
in 2009, and has plans to host additional free eye exam clinics in the future. Considering we were planning on hoarding these super cool specs anyway, we feel a little bit better knowing that our consumerism will be doing good.