Warby Parker vs. Zenni Optical: Comparing Two Affordable Glasses Brands

Lots of stylish frames.

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Warby Parker and Zenni Optical both make great-looking affordable glasses. Between the brands, they offer a huge array of frames at various price points. There are some pretty significant differences between the two companies, though. These are what we’ll explore in this article. First up, here are some of the things we like best about each eyewear manufacturer.

What We Love About Warby Parker

  • Frames starting at $95.
  • Good selection on on-trend and retro glasses.
  • Try on five pairs of shades at home for free.
  • Decent quality for the price.
  • Year long lens scratch guarantee.
  • Free shipping and returns.

What We Love About Zenni Optical

  • Frames are super affordable, starting at under $10.
  • Huge selection of frames and lenses.
  • Virtual try-on is a neat tool to assess fit.
  • Decent quality for the price.
  • Easy to add prescription lenses.
  • Many options to customize your glasses.

Warby Parker vs. Zenni Optical: In Detail

Brand Stories

Warby Parker is a mid-range glasses brand well known for its direct-to-consumer model that cuts out the middle-man to sell glasses to consumers at an affordable price. The brand was founded in 2010 and has seen significant growth due to the perception of the glasses being good quality for the price. Warby Parker sells its glasses through its impressively easy-to-use homepage and its physical retail locations.

Zenni Optical sells affordable glasses at a price few companies can match. While older than Warby Parker, it is still relatively new to the eyewear game, having been founded in 2003. The company also uses a direct-to-consumer model and it sells its frames through its website. The brand does not have a physical retail outlet, which presumably helps keep costs down. You can find out more about the brand in our full Zenni Optical Review.

What are the Collections Like?

Warby Parker has a large selection of acetate and metal frames. At the time of writing their are 57 men’s sunglasses styles and 87 women’s sunglasses styles. And that’s before you consider that many of the frames are available in multiple colors.

Even if there is overlap between the men’s and women’s collections, that’s still a large number of glasses. The also look great. There are many on-trend styles and even the most fashion-forward people are likely to find something they like.

Zenni Optical also has a vast array frames. Clicking on “Shop All Glasses” brings up an astonishing 1710 results. As well as fashion-focused designs you can buy more basic styles as well as practical frames like goggles and sports glasses. It’s a selection that is hard to beat, no matter where you look.

Zenni Optical and Warby Parker Hit Different Price Points

While both brands sell affordable frames, Zenni Optical’s offerings are significantly cheaper. The brand’s frames start at just $6.95 and go up to $45.95 for a pair of titanium rimless glasses.

For the price you get the frame and basic prescription lenses. Prices increase if you choose premium lenses and there is an almost confusing number of extras you can choose. But the total you pay will still typically be among the cheapest around.

Warby Parker’s glasses hit a higher price point with its acetate frames costing $95 and its metal and mixed material frames costing $145. For the price you get single vision prescription lenses, sunglasses lens, or reading lenses.

If you choose progressive lenses you’ll pay $345 for a metal frame or $296 for an acetate one. You will also typically get a discount if you buy multiple prescription frames in one order.

What are the Glasses Made From?

Warby Parker sell frames made from either acetate, steel, or a combination of the two. Standard sunglasses lens are made from CR-39, are scratch resisten, and block 100% of UV rays. Prescription lenses are made from polycarbonate and have a 1.67 high index.

Zenni Optical sells glasses made from a large number of materials that reflect its more extensive selection. You can buy frames in acetate, steel, titanium, various other metals and plastics. You can also choose a mixed frame. The lenses are either basic plastic or polycarbonate.

Warby Parker Offers More Extras

Warby Parker ships a case and lens cloth with every pair of glasses. They also have a useful lens scratch guarantee that promises to replace lenses that get scratched in the first year of owning them for free. The company also provides a 30-day return policy.

While these extras are nice, the standout feature is one that lets you order up to five frames to try on at home for free. This helps ensure you get a pair of glasses that fits and that you’re happy with.

Zenni Optical doesn’t offer as many extras, which is unsurprising considering the low price point. There is a 30-day returns policy that gives you either a 100% store voucher or 50% cashback if you don’t like the glasses, or 100% cash if there is a manufacturing problem.

The virtual try-on service is an innovative way to see how the glasses fit before buying. Although, it’s obviously not quite as good as actually trying them on.

Warby Parker vs Zenni Optical: The Verdict

The two companies offer quite different services which means choosing the best for you is relatively straightforward. If you want the the cheapest pair possible go for Zenni Optical. If you want a higher quality service and extras like the ability to try on five pairs of glasses before buying, then Warby Parker is the better option, assuming you don’t mind paying for it.

Warby Parker Top Picks

Here are some of our current favorite Warby Parker glasses:

Warby Parker Dorian

Warby Parker Duncan

Warby Parker Sutton

Zenni Optical Top Picks

And here are some of our favorite’s from Zenni Optical:

Zenni Optical Square Glasses

Zenni Optical Plastic Aviators

Zenni Optical Browline Glasses

More in Sunglasses

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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