warby-storefrontI tend to order everything I can online. My current pair of glasses were looking pretty beat up and my benefits plan at work had just reset, so I decided to take the plunge and order glasses from online retailer Warby Parker. They’ve had a strong online presence for US-based shoppers in the last few years and have recently started shipping to Canada.

Selection

The grid-style view of frames displayed on the website is at first mildly overwhelming. Each frame is different in some small way from the others, yet all share a very similar look. It’s very easy to go back and forth and agonize over what precise frame would look best as you’re unable to physically try them on. Warby Parker in the US solves this by offering a home try on program where you pick five of your favourite frames, they’re shipped to you without lenses, and you can try them on to see what you like. Unfortunately, this program is unavailable in Canada leaving you a bit in the dark.

I ended up going with Theo in Whiskey Tortoise. I typed in my prescription, and then used Warby Parker’s PD calculator to determine my pupillary distance. It’s a rather clever bit of software that uses a credit card as a reference to determine the distance between your pupils, a necessary measurement for the manufacture of glasses. Once all my information was in, I paid with a credit card and the order process began. The total cost was a very reasonable $130, $120 for the glasses and $10 for shipping with duties and taxes included.

Shipping

It took 11 days (7 business days) from when I first submitted my order to when my glasses were delivered. A few days after I ordered Warby Parker’s Canadian site was upgraded, and somehow the information in my online account was erased. No saved prescriptions anymore, no record of my order, and my name was now stored as FiftyOne Milburn – presumably an artifact from the fact that Warby Parker uses FiftyOne (now known as BorderFree) as a third party international shipper. A bit concerning, but after a phone call to Warby Parker offices I was reassured that my order was still moving along fine, this was simply a software issue due to the website upgrade.

Order received Nov 20, 2014
Order confirmed Nov 20, 2014
Left Warby Parker for third party shipper (Borderfree) Nov 26, 2014 4 business days to make glasses
Left third party shipper (Borderfree), got tracking number Nov 28, 2014 2 business days to ship to third party shipper
Successfully delivered Dec 1, 2014 1 business day to ship internationally to Canada

Shipping from the US to Canada was particularly fast (sent Friday, delivered late Monday). There’s a bit of room for improvement at the start of the order process however. I understand that prescription glasses take time to make unlike a retail good that can be pulled off a warehouse shelf, but there was a six day period at the start of the order where I had no information about what was happening with my order. A simple page with basic information (“Your prescription is being reviewed”, “Your glasses are being made”, “Your glasses are being prepared for shipping”, etc) would be sufficient.

Unboxing

The glasses arrive packaged in a clean looking box with a well constructed case and branded microfiber bag. The only problem I have is that the glasses case is just a tiny bit too small for the frames – the end of the arms peek out just beyond the edges. The case can still be closed, but it still seems like a small detail that was neglected.

I was quite impressed with the glasses themselves. They’re well built plastic frames, with the temples mating cleanly to the front of the frame with no gaps or misalignment. The nose pads are comfortable and the details (including a WP at the end of the left temple) are a nice touch. The hinges are simple but sturdy screw hinges, and do not offer any spring or give when open fully. This became obvious when first wearing the glasses, as apparently my face is just a bit too wide for the frames and there was some pressure above my ears.

Wear

I’ve had these glasses for about a month or so now. The pressure the arms were applying above my ears has subdued with a bit of gentle bending of the frames and time, although there’s a bit of annoyance when eating. They’re beautifully clear, I haven’t worn glasses in years and was surprised with the clarity versus my contact lenses, particularly reading electronic screens and books. I now typically wear the glasses on most evenings and weekends.

Overall

Pros: Well constructed and reasonably priced glasses.
Cons: Some hiccups with cross-border logistics.

Strongly recommended if you’re comfortable with online shopping and enjoy the style of acetate framed glasses.

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