Chicago has a new addition to the Armitage strip in Lincoln Park, and it’s one that’s helping us all see a little clearer. The super popular eyewear brand Warby Parker has landed in Chicago with an innovative new take on the retail experience, branded #SmileChicago! Self-admitted creators of “the alternative”, the New York based brand was formed to provide an alternative to high-priced glasses and sunglasses brought on by a monopoly of the industry from overblown, and often overseas parent companies. The solution? They say it best: “By circumventing traditional channels , designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.” And creating a memorable retail experience, like one we had last night, is just icing on the four-eyed cake.
Located at 837 W. Armitage until March when it will move down the street, the company’s first Midwestern store is dubbed a Frame Studio and it has just that – shelves upon shelves of eyewear frames, ranging from classic to eclectic. But also an actual built-in photo studio, complete with revolving local photographers that will snap free (yes, FREE) portraits at anytime. Framed photos of employees clad in their vintage photo studio aprons deck the minimal decor in the boutique which consists mostly of branded wooded boxes reminiscent of the sparse props you would have to sit on during grade school picture day. The theme is replayed throughout the space, playing host to vintage cameras (on loan from a Chicago camera store) and video jukebox corner with VHS collection. When we came in Edward Scissorhands had just begun, making it extremely difficult not to flop down on the leather easy chairs and watch it from start to finish.
For those on the hunt of endless eyewear options, Warby has them in spades. Their expert crew of staff will help you find a style from the staggering selection, fit you to them and get your prescription info before you can say “aviators.” And their cute Reference Desk, which serves as a sort of customer service area for returns, exchanges, or fittings, recalls your neighborhood library desk where you’d agonize over your 10 cent overdue fees. Bottom line: whether you’re in the market for new specs or not, the space is worth a “look” for the sheer fun of the experience. And the price tags on most frames running less that $100, will definitely help you forget that your vision is 20/20.
The Warby Parker Frame Studio at 837 W. Armitage (just west of Halsted) opens to the public this Saturday, November 22nd. See their Winter 2014 collection and order frames at WarbyParker.com.
Photos: Second City Style
Tags: #SmileChicago, accessories, Alia Rajput, Chicago events, Chicago eyewear, Chicago Shopping, eyewear, glasses, Lincoln Park shopping, sunglasses, Warby Parker, Warby Parker Chicago, Warby Parker Winter 2014