Warby Parker may have changed the face of eyewear, but it's not the only company looking to overhaul the industry.
This week, eyeglasses seller Frameri of Cincinnatti opened its online doors to the public. And like its fashion-forward predecessor, Frameri is hoping to make a mark with both budget- and image-conscious consumers. Its key selling point? Interchangeable lenses.
The frames come in a variety of colors, but just three models that are standardized to fit for lenses that may be swaped out--depending on the user's needs. Users can choose to swap out their shades for eyeglass lenses, using just the one set of frames, for instance. At Warby Parker, if you want sunglasses and eyeglasses, you'll have to shell out for two sets of frames.
"Warby Parker reinvented the model, changing the way people buy glasses, but we changed the product," says CEO Konrad Billetz told TechCrunch.
That's not the only difference between the two companies. At Frameri, frames and lenses are priced at $100 each, which more than doubles Warby Parker's offer of $95 for a pair with lenses.
Still, Billetz thinks there's a market. At age 11, he was accidentally shot in the eye by a friend's BB gun, and had to wear corrective lenses even since. As a lifetime eyeglasses wearer, Billetz thought, why couldn't glasses be fun and more functional? The site's virtual try-on capability, which uses live video to show what consumers look like with Frameri frames, helps add to that fun factor.
Plus, the company also landed $750,000 in seed funding to help it on its feet. An Indiegogo campaign last year, yielded more than $60,000 from crowdfunding, and Billetz secured $100,000 investment from Steve Case, the former CEO and chairman of AOL. Case is currently chairman and CEO of Revolution, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm.
Now, besides competition with established and upstart retailers alike, perhaps the biggest challenge for the startup is to convince consumers that the idea of "interchangeable" technology is actually workable. Currently the company installs polycarbonate rim around the lenses and locks into the groove on the frames. The "Key," as Frameri calls it, also comes with fashionable colors and can make the look of glasses even more unique.