Forever it seems, one purchased eye glasses from the family optometrist. They were expensive, took time to get, and the frame selection was rather limited. The rise of large-scale eyewear retailers, often with an in-house optometrist, modernized the process. More frames from which to choose, the cost came down slightly, and turnaround was a bit faster.
The first movers in the online eyewear business caused a genuine seismic shift. Leveraging a direct-to-consumer model drastically reduced cost. Focusing on high-touch services like personalized email updates and in-home try-ons of multiple frames have solidified this business model for a new generation. This shift in the cost burden of glasses has allowed people to have what used to be a true luxury – several pair of current prescription glasses to swap as fashion and mood dictate.
Yet, for us at least, there was always a sense of shortfall. For those who wear glasses because we need to, the idea of eyewear as fashion is still a little jarring. After all, bullying for being a “four eyes” is really not too far in the past.
In addition, ordering prescription eye glasses over the internet is not the same thing as buying some socks or even a new suit. It’s a medical device that must work perfectly; that’s a pretty tall order to fill when you stop to think about it.
So, when we recently slipped on a new pair of Oren Issac glasses, two questions immediately presented themselves: why do these frames feel so perfect and what’s with these fantastic lenses? Oren Isaac is a relatively new label to the online eyewear space, but they have big plans for the future. The keystone to their model begins, as it should, with the glasses themselves.
Our Michael frame is tight, strong, and well-crafted. It’s also very slim, but with clean, visually strong lines. The snap hinges are precise without a wobble to be felt.
The feature, if you can call it that, to which we keep returning is the frame’s material. The cellulose acetate frame is dense and visually rich. And, the “Havana” tortoise shell pattern is subtle and pronounced at the same time, give the glasses a richly classic yet modern feel.
We asked Oren Issac founder Mr. Emmanuel Aboucaya about his glasses and what makes them so distinctive. He’s been in the eyewear business since 1997, and that experience prompted him to create Oren Isaac.
“I’d say 95 percent of glasses factories manufacture cheap quality frames, use cheap materials, and do not tend to have any quality control. My past experience with glasses helped me find our factory among the 5 percent. I pushed them to deliver, at the same costs and quality I expect in all our frames. All Oren Isaac styles have great hinges, nice acetate celluloids, and a solid build. It took us one full year of research, design sketching, sampling, and testing before launching our brand. And every future collection is going through the same process.”
The lenses matter too. Mr. Aboucaya recommends against getting polycarbonate lenses. “It’s the worst material for your eyes,” he said. “I call it the ‘lazy’ lens. Easy for opticians to sell as it’s the strongest material out there, but it’s also easily scratched is often distorted.”
When it comes to frames, Mr. Aboucaya suggests taking a close look at their fit and feel. You can feel and even hear how plastics can differ. For example, he suggests knocking the temples together. A deep sound indicated a better material, while a “click” sound, means it’s likely a cheap plastic. “Also cheap plastics break very easily and can hardly be bent by using heat like we do with good acetate frames,” he added.
We also asked Mr. Aboucaya about the details – from branding to product to brand story – that help draw and keep Oren Isaac’s customers?
“We are focusing on shapes and colors,” he said. “Think Uniqlo but for glasses. We love the Japanese brand culture, their packaging.” Oren Isaac is expected to debut new packaging in Spring 2016. “We want to find the perfect shape and color combination for each of our customers. That’s how we are defining our style: with our customers desire in mind but with simple lines. Each of our frames should be a statement on their own. A brand within.”
“We simply love glasses, their shapes, their colors, their history, their utility, and the outstanding accessories that they are. Our customers are like us.”