How Warby Parker Designs the Trends You Want to Wear

Credit: Courtesy of Warby Parker

You’re in high school. You have braces and acne and the shirt with the logo and no chest hair. Things aren’t looking great. Then you find out you have to get glasses.

Your dad takes you to the eye doctor a few blocks away. The exam hurts like hell. They show you some frame options, and you settle on a rectangular wire pair because you think they look modern and cool. You are wrong. In college, you decide to do something crazy and get trendy, thick frames. Black. Your girlfriend tells you they take up too much of your face, but the glasses stay around longer than she does. Eventually you grow up. Your acne clears, your clothes fit, you have a haircut that doesn’t offend your mother. And now, you're due for a new set of glasses.

Luckily, Warby Parker launched its Fall 2014 collection earlier this month, with a slew of classic shapes and dark shades with names such as "Striped Pacific" and "Whiskey Tortoise."

"When we designed the Fall collection, we were looking to develop the most wearable shapes for a variety of looks," says Shannon Malone, director of product strategy. "We started by reviving a construction that people loved when we first introduced it in our Spring 2013 Hayworth collection: acetate fronts with titanium temples. We then wanted to explore a mixture of statement acetate frames and ultra-classic acetate frames — a little something for everyone — and were interested in differentiating both stories with a new color palette of striped slate blues, newsprint-greys, and a tortoise color inspired by wood grain."
 
Among the new collection are three crystal clear frames. "Customers started asking for crystal frames in our stores and showrooms, so we jumped on it immediately and started sketching," explains Malone, adding that the company also focuses on the research it conducts. So what happens with those black rims we sported? Will the acrylic style replace them?

"Dark rims, like so many icons who wore them — from Buddy Holly to Bill Evans — will never go away," Malone explains. "A dark rim is like a punctuation mark for your face. That said, crystal is having a moment: It's more sly in its approach. Makes people take a second look."

When it comes to trends, Malone says that eyewear is a lot like that of the rest of the fashion world. But, that doesn’t mean the frames you just ordered will be out of style by next season. "They tend to be wearable for a bit longer than other accessories. A pair of frames is the most prominent part of the wearer’s look. You pick your frames carefully and tend to stick with them longer. Instead of being seasonal, trends tend to last a year or more."

As for the guy who still hasn’t given up on those wire frames, will they ever return?

"Yes," Malone says. "Stay tuned."