warby parker

“Like Warby Parker and AYR before it, flash sale site Gilt is the latest e-commerce startup bringing its customers some real-world action in the form of a shoppable showroom, conveniently (and rather economically) located in its Manhattan headquarters.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Gilt

“Warby Parker has made no secret of its intention to rapidly expand its retail network — that is, in a very specific way, through its own independently-operated stores. With the exception of a few indie boutiques like Imogene + Willie in Nashville and Art in the Age in Philly, Warby Parker has never sold a range of its eyewear through another national retailer, until now.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Warby parker x Nordstrom

“A little over two years ago, eyewear e-commerce pioneer Warby Parker opened its first retail store in SoHo with fairly low expectations. “Initially, we only had plans to open one, maybe two stores,” co-founder Dave Gilboa told Fashionista over the phone. “We were just blown away by the response that we received from customers.” That store still occasionally has a line out the door on weekends, and Warby Parker now has 12 retail locations across the country, with plans to open seven more before the end of this year.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Warby Parker

Warby Parker

More than 85% of millennials correlate their buying decisions to the responsible efforts a brand is making. Moreover, their willingness to recommend a given brand to others also increases in tandem with a brand’s goals towards doing social good. With an affluent, younger generation spelling it out loud that they want capitalism-with-a-conscience, luxury fashion brands can no longer afford to ignore the trend towards social good models. So who in the fash pack has listened to the millennials’ message so far – and how does technology help the cause of fashion’s leading B-corporations and environmentally friendly brands?

One of the best known B-Corporations – a for-profit company that also commits itself to the pursuit of social goals – is Warby Parker, the designer eyewear start-up equally admired for its affordable frames and its socially conscious business model. Not ones to miss out on a burgeoning retail trend, however, Warby Parker have also tapped the ‘fun and serendipity’ of real-life shopping, as they put it: stores in 7 satellite cities as well as showrooms inside boutiques also give customers the option to try on in-store. Technology is equally key to the offline strategy, however: each store uses smart data gleaned from sensors and wi-fi to increase business intelligence – an especially perfect technique when employed in combination with the online shopping data that comes with WP fans’ brand loyalty. Most important of all in the Warby Parker formula is that it’s a business model with heart: when each customer knows that for each pair of glasses bought, a pair will go to a person in need (through VisionSpring), said customer is certainly more likely to share their data with Warby Parker in the first place. Indeed, technology helps certified B-Corp Warby Parker stay ethical, right down to the coding: they have an active open source program, giving away quite a lot of the software that’s created in house. As CEO Dave told The Huffington Post, “Technology is the backbone behind everything we do as a company.”

Established brands aside, who else in the fashion world is set to disrupt the world of e-commerce in the name of social enterprise? Raven + Lily is one such brand – based out of Austin, Texas, it creates ethical fashion and lifestyle products with a mission of empowering women through design. Dedicated to fair trade and eco-friendly designs, each of Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin’s collections refers to a particular country and cause: so, the statement jewellery of the Ethiopia Collection empowers HIV+ women in Ethiopia, while the Kenya Collection’s intricately handbeaded jewellery assists Maasai women from the Esiteti community to eradicate FGM and send girls to school.

The trend towards incorporating efforts towards doing social good within business models – and not just as part of ‘sadvertising’ marketing campaigns – is a challenge we can expect to see more and more fashion brands taking up going into 2015. The freedom and international scope that a strong e-commerce strategy can give such brands has opened up a whole new space for disruptive business models – defying those inherent inequalities that too often define the fashion industry at large.

Reported by Claire Healy

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  1. This Mask gives You Superhuman Abilities
    Two prototypes of the masks created by a group of students at the Royal College of Art in London have been created to enhance hearing and sight.
  2. SNL Takes on Google Glass
    During SNL’s Weekend Update, the cast joked around a bit about the complications and odd appearance of Google Glass.
  3. Scott Lachut: Warby Parker’s Foray into Physical Retail
    Warby Parker, the online eyeglasses retail store, has previously experimented with themed pop-up stores, an in-office showroom, retail partnerships, among others. Now, it has opened its doors to its first brick-and-mortar store located in Soho on April 13th.
  4. The Fitbit Flex is the Best Fitbit Yet
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