New York City-based eyewear retailer Warby Parker has opened its first international store location in Toronto. It could be the first of several locations, as the retailer tests out the Canadian market following the launch of its Canadian e-commerce site in 2012.
Located at 684 Queen Street West (on Canada’s ‘coolest street‘), the store’s interior is designed with “classic libraries in mind”, according to the company. The store features terrazzo-tiled floors, custom-made brass library lamps, suspended globe lighting, books displayed in custom shelving (and even more reading materials available for purchase) selected from some of Warby Parker’s favourite Canadian authors. The 1,048 square foot store was designed by Partners & Spade, in conjunction with The Lawrence Group.
To celebrate the Toronto opening, Warby Parker is releasing an exclusive set of frames for its Canadian customers only, that can be purchased in store and online. These include the ‘Durand‘ in Moss, and ‘Chamberlain‘ in Jet Black. They’re available for a limited time in those hues, both as sunglasses and optical.
As well, Toronto-based artist, Micah Lexier (recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts) has created a series of three newsprint books called Free For the Taking, made in collaboration with fellow Canadian artists Maggie Groat, Mark Laliberte, and artist collective VSVSVS. The books will be on display throughout the store, and are free to take.
Warby Parker is an innovative, value-priced prescription eyewear retailer, which was founded in 2010 as a pure play online retailer with a $2,500 seed investment by students in the Venture Initiation Program of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Shortly after its launch, the company was featured on Vogue.com andGQ, referred to as ‘the Netflix of eyewear’.
The company has grown substantially and now boasts 30 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States. Last year, the company was reportedly valued at US $1.2 billion. Warby Parker designs its glasses in-house and sells directly to customers — prices are therefore generally lower than regular optical stores, which may mark up product substantially.