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Warby Parker has its eyes on the future

April 4, 2023

Warby Parker storefront

The digital native eyewear brand is expanding its brick-and-mortar visibility

The best brands solve the simplest problems, and eyewear brand Warby Parker is no exception. When one of its cofounders lost his eyeglasses right before starting graduate school, he spent his first semester struggling to see because he couldn’t afford the staggering cost of a new pair.

Out of that experience, a billion-dollar brand was born. Founded in 2010 by Wharton classmates Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, Dave Gilboa, and Jeff Raider, Warby Parker made its name as a fashion-conscious eyewear brand selling direct to consumers online at a surprisingly affordable price. It was a monopoly-disrupting strategy that would reshape the eyewear industry and provide a business model for other consumer staple startup brands.

In 2013, Warby Parker opened its first retail store in New York City, with a library-inspired aesthetic that reflected its literary-inspired name, derived from two characters that appear in a journal by late author Jack Kerouac.

Currently led by Blumenthal and Gilboa, who share the CEO reins, today the brand boasts 213 physical stores across the country, including Brookfield Properties locations at Alderwood, Baybrook Mall, Fashion Place, Jordan Creek Town Center, Kenwood Towne Centre, The Mall in Columbia, Natick Mall, Oakbrook Center, Oxmoor Center, Park Meadows, Perimeter Mall, Plaza Frontenac, Ridgedale Center, Short Pump Town Center, The Shops at La Cantera, The SoNo Collection, and The Streets at Southpoint.

After making its stock market debut in September 2021, Warby Parker is on a mission to grow its U.S. brick-and-mortar footprint, with plans to add approximately 700 more stores in the coming years. There are currently 213 Warby Parker retail stores in the U.S.

“We commissioned a third-party study that concluded our retail footprint has room to expand to over 900 retail locations in the U.S.”

As Warby Parker continues to expand its vision, which now includes walk-in eye exams, contact lenses, and a full line of sunglasses — including a new pair of reversible sunglasses dreamed up by “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon — what hasn’t changed is the brand’s dedication to giving back. For every pair of glasses sold, Warby Parker distributes a pair to someone in need through its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. And all proceeds from the brand’s collaboration with Jimmy Fallon benefit Warby Parker’s Pupils Project, a program that provides free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to schoolchildren in the U.S. “We believe that everyone has the right to see,” says Warby Parker on its website, noting 2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them and another 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.

  • 17 Brookfield Properties locations
  • 213 Brick-and-mortar stores
  • $169.90 billion global eyewear industry

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