David Lazarus asks "Why are eyeglasses so expensive?" in his LA Times article and makes this bold statement:
"Prescription eyewear represents perhaps the single biggest mass-market consumer ripoff to be found."
As the co-founder of Lens & Frame Co., offering premium reading glasses and custom prescription eyewear, you would think my reaction would be to bristle and offer up a stinging rebuttal. However, I have to say, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, that’s why we started Lens & Frame Co.
I’ve been in the eyewear business for over 20 years. I first ran up against the power of the 800-lb gorilla that Lazarus refers to when I was one of the founders who started Kaenon Polarized in 2001. We made polarized sunglasses that featured high-quality, performance lenses. As an independent brand, we ran up against a number of competitive challenges, not the least of which was fighting against the massive industry behemoth that is EssilorLuxottica who owns most of the well-known eyewear brands in the marketplace (including the two largest: Oakley and RayBan), and also owns much of the distribution channels (including Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision), and owns one of the largest vision insurance companies (EyeMed).
As Lazarus points out, a fashion brand's frame alone can easily cost $300 or more. Add the custom prescription lenses and you’re looking at another $250-$500 depending on who you’re buying from, the lens material you choose, and the various lens coatings you select. And with one conglomerate controlling so much of the eyewear buying process, no wonder prices seem to be out of control.
We believe independent brands tend to create some of the most interesting product innovations. And we believe that entrepreneurs who want to shake things up tend to offer something better than what is available in the mainstream marketplace. So with that in mind, we wanted to be able to deliver high touch customer service - something akin to the experience one might find at a high-end boutique. And perhaps it goes without saying that we wanted to offer only premium quality frames, top-tier lens materials and lens coatings. And we wanted to deliver this amazing experience direct to your doorstep at a fair price.
To create our online eyewear boutique, we decided to partner with a few of our favorite independent brands. We curated our collection of brand partners based on their unique raisons d'etre. We love RAEN because, like us, they are located in Southern California just a little ways down Pacific Coast Highway and have created a fantastic eyewear collection that is fun, on trend, and "inspired by the classics and handmade for today". Ombraz armless sunglasses, on the other hand, is the next revolution of eyewear: no sidearms, no problem!
On the other hand, STATE Optical literally built a factory in Chicago in order to launch their luxury line of eyeglasses and sunglasses. They are redefining Made In USA by producing some of the finest acetate and titanium eyewear on the market. And if you're looking for classic styles such as the original aviator or the original wayfarer, look no further than American Optical. Made in America, AO is the "True Original since 1833!"
L&F is proud of our growing collection of independent brands. And we are committed to making their frames even better by marrying them with the best possible custom prescription lenses. In order to achieve our mission of Glasses Done Right, we work closely with our local lens lab in order to ensure that every set of lenses is produced with the hands-on attention to detail that results in perfect prescription lenses. Lastly, every pair of glasses we ship is inspected by hand for build quality, and the lenses polished and the hinges calibrated. And a personalized note to make sure that everything is just right.
Sure, to accomplish all of this, we have to mark things up. It is a business after all. But our business is driven more by the desire to offer something better for our customers than by any desire for high profit margins and mass-volume scale. As a result, we consistently produce:
* Better quality.
* Better service.
* And better prices.
So if you're looking for something better, we invite you to browse our collection of premium eyeglasses and sunglasses. Step up to Lens & Frame Co. and see for yourself how it feels when you get your Glasses Done Right.