(Image credit: Warby Parker (top & bottom left); Ace & Tate (top & bottom right))
I think I have been wearing prescription glasses for as long as I remember. No, that would be a lie, I do remember the day I admitted that for the past year or so, I hadn’t been able to read the black board at school. Yes, a year, and I did cry when admitting to that fact. We’re talking 1994, I was an insecure pre-teen and the last thing I wanted, was to wear prescription glasses. I already had a gap between my teeth (got that fixed in due time), so that was quite enough at the time. Not to mention, prescription glasses were anything but fashionable at the time.
Over the years, the condition of my eyes got a lot worse and as of today I am the not so proud owner of a sphere value of -7 and -4.75 on my eyes. Luckily, these numbers have been steady for the past ten years and I can only hope it stays that way.
When I was in college I eventually embraced the fact that I had to wear glasses. I got myself a set of Gucci frames and I was all set. Of course, it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t walk past a retailer and stare at all the beautiful collections.
However I tend to buy all my frames at the same optician I’ve been going to for the past two decades. For some reason, she always buys the frames I like best and I tend to have a liking towards Gucci and Ray Ban.
Glasses do get expensive and not only because of the frames. Since my sight is that bad, I need glasses that are extra thin, which tend to become more expensive and we’re only talking regular glasses here. Glasses designed for sunglasses are even more expensive.
Since my sight has been quite steady, I have had to ability to purchase new frames over the years without getting rid of my old ones. So, I switch now and then, but my Ray Bans are still my favorite. I also happen to wear contacts on weekends and during my vacation because they allow me to wear a range of sunglasses that I wouldn’t be able to wear with prescription glasses.
Around this time last year (or presumably even earlier on), I first learned about Warby Parker. They pop up on American blogs now and then (I think I read about them on Oh Joy!). They are indeed an American company, with their headquarters based in New York. They produce and sell prescription glasses directly to the customer via their online shop. From what I’ve read: good quality and by judging those $, a low price as well. Next to that, they are also involved in a charity program: for each pair of glasses sold, a pair of glasses is offered to people in need.
As for the customers, they have a home try-on plan which allows you to try up to five different frames during five days. After this trial period you send the frames back and you can purchase (no obligation) the frame of your liking. When I think about me sitting at my optician for over two hours trying to choose a frame, this sounds wonderful. I also think my purchase would be much considerate.
If you’re not really into that online stuff, they also have a showroom and a couple of retail locations in the US. I think I might be step foot into one of them during our West Coast trip, since they don’t ship abroad.
However, I recently stumbled upon Ace & Tate, who operate very similar to Warby Parker and have their headquarters in Amsterdam. From what I’ve read on their Facebook page they are shipping to Belgium as well.
They emulate Warby Parker’s business model of letting go of the middlemen, except Ace & Tate products are manufactured in Italy, in a family-operated factory to be more precisely.
I admit, I’m a bit reluctant, but then again, I have my eyes set on a new pair frames since like forever. The question remains though, will I pull the plug and take a leap of faith with Ace & Tate or will I go back to my regular optician? Time will tell, but at €98, new prescription glasses are a bargain, that I can tell you.