I have a love-hate relationship with glasses. Mostly a hate-relationship, actually. Although I like the idea of glasses as an accessory, that loses its appeal when the accessory becomes a daily necessity. That, combined with my hefty prescription and hard-to-fit face, makes finding glasses that I truly love a big challenge. Even so, they’re something that I require so I might as well try.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve fallen in love with the P3 frame shape, and that love quickly led me to Garrett Leight. After years of hemming and hawing and thinking about buying, I finally took the plunge. And since functional glasses have two distinct parts – the frames and the lenses – I figured I’d combine both the frames and the lenses from Replace-A-Lens in this review.
Since I’ve covered GLCO extensively in the past, I won’t bother doing that again. I picked up this pair without prescription lenses at the new GLCO boutique in San Francisco. Although I absolutely love the Hampton model in chestnut, the color was just a bit too strong against my pale complexion. I instead settled for my second favorite color – demi blonde.
Although I’ve found a few frames at GLCO that are quite to my liking, I always end up coming back to the Hampton. With so many chunky frames on the market these days, it’s refreshing to see a style that’s shapely without being overly obtrusive on the face. On top of that, the fact that it comes in three sizes makes it that much better. As usual, I went for the narrowest size they offered – 42mm.
In terms of construction and materials, the real star of GLCO’s frames is the beautiful acetate they use. The colors are always so vibrant and rich. All of the hardware feels sturdy and strong, as well. GLCO’s frames are made in China – something they wear on their sleeve – so in terms of provenance they’re not particularly impressive, but I do think that they are on par with other popular acetate frames from Italy.
To that point, though, I will say that GLCO’s pricing (and advertising) is starting to position them as a fashion brand that is more about the label and celebrity endorsements than the product itself. It’s a great product, to be sure, but at the price that they sell at I’m sure that their margins are quite comfortable. They’re starting to remind me a bit of Common Projects – nobody can deny that it’s a fantastic product, but we all kind of know that the price is higher than it needs to be and that there are higher value options elsewhere. Even so, that didn’t stop me from getting a pair, as deal-oriented as I am. Sometimes it’s just worth it to get exactly what you want.
As mentioned, I got the lenses from Replace-A-Lens – I found them to be very competitively priced, and after hearing good things I decided to try them. The process was incredibly simple – I mailed them the frames and emailed a photo of my official prescription, and in a couple of days they sent the frames back with new lenses. Throughout the entire process I was given concise email updates, and if any information was missing I was promptly notified. They also quikly replied to my email questions, of which there were many (go figure). The lens I received are of great quality (much better than my Warby Parker ones) and were priced much better than if I had gone through my optometrist or through GLCO. The whole process was easy and professional – I would recommend them highly.
For those that are curious, I thought I would do a brief comparison between my old Warby Parker frames and my new ones. I do think that WP is a high-value brand, but these pictures speak for themselves.
This difference is even more dramatic when the two frames are compared looking along the plane of the lenses – all the components of the GLCO frames are much, much, smaller. The WPs look downright clunky and huge, even though the lenses themselves are approximately the same size. That said, this decrease in size is not accompanied by a decrease in sturdiness; the tight tolerances of the GLCO frames and the snugness of the hardware make them feel even more solid (and much lighter) than the WPs.
All told, I’m very pleased with my new frames and lenses. I don’t know if wearing glasses will ever be truly enjoyable for me, but this is a big step in the right direction. And although my Warby Parker frames served me well, I’m definitely happy with this upgrade. Of course, this new package cost four times what the WPs did – are they four times better? Absolutely not. The law of diminishing returns is definitely in play here; I’m paying a sizable increase for a small increase in construction quality, material quality, and design. But you know what? Sometimes it’s worth it to make an unavoidable accessory that much more palatable.