Warby Parker Rocks Down To Ocean Avenue.

Sometimes, I wear glasses.  I love to wear my glasses.  Or more specifically, I love to wear my Warby Parker glasses.  My journey to find an amazing pair of glasses spanned years.  In fourth grade, I cheated on my eye exam because both glasses and braces were cool and I couldn't fake crooked teeth.  So I ended up with glasses and then ended up with horrible vision because I didn't actually need said glasses.  Feel free to tell that story to your kids.  Don't cheat on eye exams...you're probably going to need glasses at some point anyway.  After never really being in love with any of my spectacles, two years ago, I was introduced to Warby Parker (you can read about it here) and my relationship with glasses totally changed.  Warby taught me how to not just enjoy wearing my glasses but to actually have some fun with them. (Photo credit: Nate Poekert)

In the last few months, I've been wanting to expand my ability to have fun with my eyewear...and with the summertime having properly arrived, what better way to do that than with some color?!  (Not to mention, I really want a pair or five of some of Warby's super cool sunglasses.)  And as Warby Parker always seems to inherently do, the team there read my mind and have just launched their Ocean Avenue Collection to celebrate not just the warmer months but the nostalgic and retro-driven joy of summertime down by the boardwalk.  More specifically, the legendary Coney Island.

WP_ocean_ave_logo

Drawing inspiration from 1979 cult film The Warriors, a thriller that follows around rival gangs from across NYC on their way to Coney Island during one long, summer night, the collection is about fun and mischief.  With 8 optical frames and 14 sunglasses to choose from, it's the new colors that are the true stars of this show.  Sea Glass Blue.  Chocolate Soda.  Driftwood.  Orange Fizz.  Cream Soda.  Ginger Lemonade.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz-TzeIz-qs]

The Ocean Avenue Collection makes me want to take a trip down to Coney Island.  Grab a hot dog and an ice cream, sit on the boardwalk and re-live the days of having summers off to get up to trouble.  Warby Parker does an incredible job in this collection of giving us a modern take on days gone by.  The retro styles in updated colors give just enough away about the person wearing them that makes you want to know more.  And for those of us who want to wear them, kudos on making it almost impossible to choose, Warby!

Preston in Pearled Tortoise

Preston in Sea Glass Blue

My favorite styles have to be the Preston (Sea Glass Blue vs. Pearled Tortoise) and Beckett (Newsprint Grey vs. Driftwood) for optical frames, and Winston (in Cream Soda), Jules (in Marbled Charcoal) and Jasper (in Orange Fizz).  Not the narrowest of lists but hey ho, I do what I can.  Question is, which would YOU like to rock this summer?!

Beckett in Driftwood.

Beckett in Newsprint Grey.

Winston in Cream Soda.

Jules in Marbled Charcoal.

Jasper in Orange Fizz.

Check out all of the Ocean Avenue Collection by Warby Parker here.  And let me know when you want to hit the boardwalk.  I'm ready.

(All images c/o Warby Parker)

Have Yourself A Warby Little Christmas.

I know I love Warby...you probably know I love Warby...and if you don't know, you can read about it here, here aaaaand here.  And though I may have a pair of specs that I adore from the brilliant Warby Parker, I could always use more and maybe even some sunnies.  But 'tis the season and this isn't about getting as much as it is about receiving.  So of course, the amazing team over at Warby Parker has done it again and has made gift giving that little bit more special, as they seem to do with everything!

Gift cards for Warby Parker are available in four different amounts ($50, $95, $145, $195) which will get your loved one either halfway to a pair of one glasses or up to two pairs!  Want that extra Warby touch?  They will package up your gift card in a beautiful little box complete with a custom, hand-iced cookie (Santa wearing his Warbys, of course) and even create a hand-written note with whatever it is you want to say.  Unless you were crafting the frames yourself, it doesn't get more personal than that!

Their home try-on system, constant interaction and help in choosing the perfect frames might seem like all you could want, but when you buy a pair of glasses, they also donate a pair to someone in need.  So give the gift of Warby Parker this season.  You'll be giving sight to those you love, those you don't and I promise Warby will make it fun through the entire experience.  (And they aren't even paying me to say this!)

If you don't have a pair of Warbys, you're no friend of mine...seriously, I've talked most of my friends into getting their glasses here  :)  And they all look fabulous!

(All images c/o Warby Parker)

Twins For Peace: Be Cool. Be Good.

Long before I made my way over to Paris last month, I came across a French sneaker company called Twins for Peace.  I had recently found true love with Warby Parker and was jazzed about this new way of fashion meeting charity.  There was something so familiar about the effortlessly cool, affordably high fashion and charitably concious sensibility of Twins for Peace that mirrored what I admired so much about the eyewear brand.  Seeing that there might be an entire movement around the idea of smaller companies making it big with their priorities in the right place is enough to get any of us really excited about the world taking a turn for the better. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/16050489]

Twins for Peace was started in 2009 by twin brothers Maxime and Alexandre Mussard along with friend Louis Felix de Fenoyl under the strong vision of creating a shoe line that makes a difference.  Their motto 'be cool, be good' says it all.  The shoes, comfortable but fashionable no-fuss sneakers, are as straightforward as their philosophy. At the core, they are a 'buy one, give one' organization which is a powerful stance in its own right.  But Twins for Peace doesn't stop there.  They have partnered with SOS Enfants to create education and health invitiaves on top of their own Shoe Project that will help to provide meals in schools, offer vaccines, build wells and make sure that the children they help don't go hungry and are able to have the chance at an education.  These are some pretty powerful sneakers.

I had the pleasure of being invited into the office to sit down and chat with Louis Felix and the team, take a peek at their product and upcoming campaigns and even get a new pair of kicks for moi.  When I walked into the courtyard at Twins for Peace HQ, I immediately felt like a part of this small team myself.  The people are as warm and international as their product and the offices are as colorful as the countries they help.  They are excited to share not just their product but their philosophy on what they do and how they relate it to not just their business but to who they all are as people of the world.  In a day and age where younger companies can easily become flooded with the worry of succeeding in a pretty unsure economic climate, Twins for Peace just seems really happy to be getting to do the work they do.

The donated shoes are all made in the countries that they help fueling their economies and creating jobs.  But the company works hard to not just promote offering help in the form of reward but also in the form of showcasing the talents of the native people and culture.  The newest collection, Gacha, are probably some of the coolest shoes I have ever seen.  The team is incredibly proud of this collaboration of sorts with the artists who help them make these specific shoes in Cameroon and so they should be.  The entirety of the sneakers are hand beaded (over 50 hours goes into each pair) and when a pair were placed in front of me, I couldn't stop looking at them.  The craftsmanship, colors and designs make these shoes so incredibly unique and also really freakin' cool.  When Louis Felix showed me a street style shot of a girl in a black, relaxed jumpsuit with a pair of the sneakers and some simple gold jewelry it became even more obvious why the French are style icons.

So while I save up for a pair of sneakers from the Gacha line, I will very proudly wear my pair of bright red Twins and hope that you all take a look here and join the club too  :)  To see more videos of the Twins for Peace initiatives in action, click here.

Thanks so much to everyone at Twins for Peace for such a lovely visit and a real highlight to my Parisian adventures.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/21974748]

Why I love Warby...

Let me count the ways... If you know me, you know I love me some Warby Parker.  Not just because as I am writing this, I have the tortoise version of their Colton frames on which allows me to see that I am writing words and not a bunch of gibberish but because they are a company that is doing good things, loving what they do, creating as strong a product to match their moral code and just really damn clever and nice people.

I first came across Warby Parker when I asked one of my favorite bloggers, Triple Max Tons, where she had gotten a pair of sweet spectacles I had seen in one of her posts.  You can imagine my excitement when she directed me to a place that 1) sold very cool frames for $95 a pop, 2) offered an at home try-on service that allowed me to pick frames and have them delivered to my door and 3) allowed me to help make the world a better place by buying a pair (when you buy a pair, another pair is donated to a partner non-profit which helps train low-income entrepreneurs, read more about it on their website).

Anywho, when I wrote about trying on my Warby's waaaaay back here, and having just started Thrill of the Chaise, you can imagine my excitement and surprise when the Warby powers that be themselves reached out to me to thank me and invite me into meet the team when I finally got myself moved back to NYC.  This was just the beginning of lots of reasons that I fell hard for Warby.  They are kind, all-inclusive, appreciative and get really excited when you love what they do as much as they do.

Fast forward to November and I was honored to head up to the newest Warby Parker offices and beautiful showroom on Lafayette Street where I got a little tour and had the pleasure of sitting down an original Warby'er Brian who let me totally geek out on him about what makes Warby so cool.

We had a lovely chat about the massive and rapid growth of the company, who have grown from 8 full-time employees to about 50 in not much longer than a year, their new space in Soho (which you can visit to check out the showroom, btw) and the fundamentals of what makes Warby, well, Warby.  Here are some things to know:

1. It's the very nice press they got (starting with GQ) and their happy customers' word-of-mouth that launched and continues to maintain Warby Parker.  They pride themselves on having a strong brand, product and message and it's staying true to all three of those things that are making it easy to be successful.  (Refreshing, non?!)

2. Their fun ideas on how to get their brand out to the world are not only crazy clever but quite cost-effective, giving hope to all those start-ups out there.  They have had a 'hush mob' at the New York Library, where they invited press to basically find nothing more than a bunch of people reading...until suddenly, they all raise up their books and display the style of frame they are wearing on their book covers.  And look out for Warby Parker bikes, complete with try-on glasses) riding around the City.

3. They have showrooms popping up all over the United States (and are exploring internationally in due course, ahem, London?) so make sure you go to check them out.  I went to visit their San Francisco location in December and it was great!  And busy!  They have partnered up with great boutiques to have a bit of a pop-up retail space which means you get two great shops for the price of one.  So not only did I get to have a sneaky peek at the Warby's but I was also introduced to a little SF gem, The Parish Trust.

4. They have a great collaboration with SUNO that is still available which you MUST check out.  Fingers crossed that there will be more in the future!  But they always have new products and exciting limited editions being launched, so make sure to keep an eye on them.

5. If you have any question, any question at all, or even just want to tell them 'good job', give them a call!  They love to talk to everyone!

6. My last 'question' for Brian when I went to visit was a 'finish this sentence'.  And his answer was just as Warby as I had hoped  :)  'The best thing about working at Warby Parker is...really enjoying what we are getting to do.'

With the rush of my SF and then finals and then getting myself home to be with my family for the holidays, it wasn't until this week that I got to visit the Warby Parker Holiday Spectacle Bazaar (another great example of fun ways to engage with those of us who love them, want to love them and do not yet know that they are in love with them).  FEAR NOT.  You have until this Sunday to pop down there, explore their indoor yurts, get an eye exam, try on some glasses, enjoy a bunch of activities on offer or even just hang out and get some work done/schmoozing in their lounge area.

A big thank you to Brian at Warby and the rest of the team!  Visit Warby Parker here.

Warby Parker: The Result

Just before I came back to London a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of testing out some new spectacles with the amazing Warby Parker home try-on programme (read about it here).  It would have been very easy to choose any of the four styles I tried out but I am happy to announce that the winner is... *drumroll*

COLTON (in tortoise)

I may sound like a bit of a broken record, but I cannot say enough great things about Warby Parker and the whole experience I had in choosing my new specs (something which I would usually liken to trying on bathing suits, gross).  From start to finish, it's just been fun.  The folks over at WP HQ take the art of eyewear very seriously, but also seem to know how to have a laugh doing it.

Only having been around for a year and a half, Warby was started by a few friends that came up with the idea while studying at UPenn's Wharton School.  And they have already sold over 50,000 pairs of glasses!  You can read a great article on their story here.  They do good with their power, too.  Their 'buy a pair, give a pair' programme donates a pair of glasses for every pair they sell to Vision Spring, a charity that promotes entrepreneurship by helping to train low-income women to sell glasses in their native developing countries.

The people at Warby Parker are incredibly friendly.  Not in the 'overbearing customer service' kind of way, but in the 'these are friends I just haven't met yet' kind of way.  They get involved in a way that you know your best interest (and best looking glasses) are at the heart of this operation.

It probably sounds like I am working for them, haha, but I can assure you, I'm not.  I just really think that smaller companies who are good at their craft should be championed, and Warby Parker is one of the best that I have come across.

Added bonus.  Warby Parker has just announced its sunglasses collection!  I am swooning over the Mabel style.  (And monocles, love it.)

Wear glasses? You NEED Warby Parker.

And I need your opinion! I have been on the hunt for a great pair of glasses for some time now.  My lenses have been made (special order for my awful vision) but I have been searching for a great pair of frames that are not only cool but will last me as long as possible.  So just a week before I leave to fly back to London, Kirsten from one of my favourite blogs, Triple Max Tons, put up a picture of her wearing her glasses and she very kindly gave me all the deets on where to find them.  And I have now fallen in love.

Warby Parker is incredible.  Not only is their service second to none but the idea behind the company is brilliant!  All vintage-inspired, Warby Parker has a fantastic selection and they help you to find the PERFECT pair of specs for you.  When you look at each of the styles, they give pictures of them being worn by models, explain the thought process behind each style and suggest the face shapes that the frames tend to suit best.

Not only that, you get to try before you buy in the most amazing way! You can first upload a picture of yourself and you can superimpose the different frames and colours on top which gives you a pretty decent idea of what will work and what won't as practically as possible.  From there, you can take part in the 'Home Try-On' which is the icing on the cake.  You can choose up to 5 different frames to be sent out asap completely free of charge (they even take care of shipping and returns) to keep for up to 5 days.  Put them up on Facebook or Twitter and their staff will even check them out to give you their thoughts.  HOW FUN!  :)

If you choose less than 5 pairs to try, Warby Parker will send along extras to make sure you have a variety to try on, that they have carefully selected judging by what you have chosen yourself.  Their customer service just continues to be brilliant and fantastically attentive.  I gave them a call to see if I would be able to get myself a pair of frames before I headed back to London and they couldn't have been more helpful.  My glasses were here in 2 days and I was sent emails along the way being nothing but helpful and keeping me up on the progress of my order.

So here comes the fun part...which ones do you think I should keep?!  (Slight variations, but variations none the less...)

A huge thanks to Triple Max Tons and Warby Parker for such a wonderful experience.  I want to smooch all of you.  In a totally not creepy way.