New Thing We Tried: The Warby Parker of Reading Glasses

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These aren’t your grandmother’s Rite Aid readers.

A few months ago, we got an email about a new company, Look Optic, a start-up billing itself (in so many words) as the Warby Parker of reading glasses; the design team is made up of Oliver Peoples alums, their glasses are manufactured by the same company behind Garrett Leight, and with each pair purchased, a donation is made to Charity: Water. All glasses cost $68, and they come in a range of stylish shapes and colors (the Sullivan, the Bond, the Abbey). The concept is pretty straightforward: to disrupt the Rite Aid reading-glasses market. Since these are about triple the cost of drugstore frames, we passed along two pairs of the Sullivan style to New York Magazine managing editor Ann Clarke, who’s been wearing readers for the past year or so, to see if they are worth the price. She wore them for two months, and reported back to us with her thoughts.

Pre–Look Optic, Ann would go to Duane Reade, or Target, and stock up on $20 readers. “I would just kind of throw them in my purse, keep a bunch at home, a bunch at work,” she told us. “But with those cheapos, one arm would fall off, or they’d start tilting to one side.” For the past two months, she’s only worn her Looks; “and now they’re my go-to glasses,” she says. She keeps a pair at her desk, and a pair at home. “Really, the main reason I like them is because they are so sturdy. They feel well-made. I don’t think there is any difference in the lenses, themselves, but they feel a lot better on my face. They feel like real glasses,” she says. That is in part because they are full-frame glasses, as opposed to typical half-frame reading glasses, which Ann says she doesn’t miss. “They are just … solid,” she says. “They’re not lighter, they are not heavier, they just fit me well, and they don’t tip to one side.” She also likes the handsome felt case, the inside of which is lined with a soft fabric, so the lenses don’t get scuffed. Plus, she says, “I love that the frames are somewhat frosted. I can’t tell you why I like it, but I do.”

So, would she spend $68 on another pair? “That is a lot of money,” she admits. “But if I’m spending $20 on several pairs a year, which are always breaking, I just might.”

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New Thing We Tried: The Warby Parker of Reading Glasses