Eyewear startups compete with Warby Parker

Warby Parker helped revolutionize the eyewear category and created big business with an estimated $250 million in revenue and a $1.2 billion valuation. Given its success, other companies are eager to enter the space and bring further innovation to the industry, particularly when it comes to customization and try-on methods.


Pair Eyewear makes it easy and affordable for children to get glasses by using a system similar to that of Warby Parker. The startup offers a try-before-you-buy option in which parents or their kids can have cardboard cut-outs of five base frames mailed to them for free without having to ship anything back. After deciding on a style, shoppers order their base frame online, which costs $125. For each base frame, they can choose between 10 clip-on top frames, costing $25 a piece. Additionally, for every pair of glasses purchased, the company donates a pair of prescription eyeglasses to a child in need.


Topology brings more personalization to the eyewear category with an augmented reality app that helps shoppers design customized glasses using a 3D scan of their face. Users first take a video of themselves from the front, then left to right. The company then determines a specific fit based on facial factors, including how far back their ears are, how symmetrical their face is, and how wide their nose may be. Shoppers can see what they’d look like in different frame styles and colors, and the glasses they select are built on a 3D model of the face to help ensure that it conforms perfectly. Personalization comes with a higher price tag, with glasses costing between $545-800.


Italian eyewear startup Quattrocento streamlines the at-home try-on model by sending prospective buyers cardboard versions of its frames for them to test the fit and look at their leisure. While many eyewear companies offer this with actual frames, it creates extra delivery costs and requires companies to hold extra inventory. By using cardboard versions instead, there's a lower cost for both manufacturing and delivery. Quattrocento also hopes to distinguish itself from competitors by offering luxury glasses at an affordable price point (starting at 105 euros), as well as sending a handwritten note to every customer with their order.