Warby Parker opening New Orleans frame studio; CEO: 'We view New Orleans as a center of art and culture'

April 11, 2015

Warby Parker, the hip online glasses retailer, is opening a frame studio Uptown.

The location at 3964 Magazine St., is set to open Saturday, said Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and CEO. This will be the 12th Warby Parker retail store in the U.S., joining locations in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas.

“We view New Orleans as a center of art and culture,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a city that we love.”

At the frame studio, customers will be able to try on frames selected with the help of advisers on staff. A professional photographer will be on hand to take free pictures of the customers in their new frames. Shoppers will be able to walk out with Warby Parker sunglasses and fashion frames, while customers who need prescription lenses can have their new glasses shipped to them in a few days.

About 12 people will work in the store.

The frame studio is a new concept for Warby Parker, which opened the first one in Chicago in the fall. The plan is to shutter the Chicago location, replacing it with the one on Magazine Street.

“It’s a fun, active chance to engage with our customers in a meaningful way,” Blumenthal said. “We think New Orleans is a better fit for this than Chicago, because of the artistic history.”

The company was founded in 2010 and takes its name from two characters mentioned in the journals of author Jack Kerouac. Most of the glasses sold on the website cost $95, with prescription lenses. Blumenthal notes that the price may be low, but the frames are made with custom acetate, held together with titanium screws and the lenses are UV coated and scratch-resistant.

After less than five years in business, Warby Parker is bringing in more than $100 million in annual sales, according to Fast Company magazine. And the company’s retail stores are posting sales per square foot that rival those of the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.