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Warby Parker on why technology is the lynchpin to customer service

Technology can enable us to do great things, says Warby Parker co-founder and CEO, Neil Blumenthal, with regards to the brand’s meteoric rise in the direct-to-consumer space, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar at this year’s NRF Big Show in New York, Blumenthal explains how technology is critical to making customers’ lives easier.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Warby Parker sees itself sitting at the intersection of three communities – tech, fashion, and social enterprise, he notes. It’s both a tech company and a retailer focused on creating products and services that tangibly impact consumers every day.

Warby Parker is one of Silicon Valley’s first so-called unicorns, a special group of startups that exceed expectations to pioneer within their own category by hitting over $1bn in valuation – including Airbnb, Uber and WeWork.

The nine-year-old company has paved the way to creating a great retail experience that transverses seamlessly between online and offline, and as a result, inspired the business model of many single-product focused startups known to consumers today – from suitcases at Away,  to footwear at Allbirds.

But from its scrappy beginnings hosting a showroom at Blumenthal’s New York apartment, to being one of the first DTC brands to launch a brick-and-mortar retail space, the eyewear company has had a razor sharp focus on treating the whole experience of buying glasses as a single product – from trial to wear.

From its successful at-home trial program to digital eye tests, Warby Parker works with a team of in-house technologists to constantly iterate its approach to better serving the customer. For example, after receiving feedback that it was inconvenient for customers to take time off work to get an eye exam, it developed a prescription app that pairs an iPhone to a second screen to test the user’s vision. Recently, it then deployed Apple’s new AR technology to launch a virtual try-on feature.

During this conversation, Blumenthal also shares how the brand has been built to resonate with multiple consumer segments, the importance of the social aspect of the company, and why he sees Amazon more as inspiration, rather than threat.

Liz Bacelar and Neil Blumenthal Warby Parker
Liz Bacelar and Neil Blumenthal

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Editor's pick mobile social media

Prism launches emoji app to introduce new pre-fall line

PRISMoji emoji app
PRISMoji emoji app

Hot on the heels of #worldemojiday on July 17, the push for branded emojis continues – this time with British resortwear label, Prism, introducing a series of shareable characters to support the launch of its pre-fall 2016 collection.

Available on the new PRISMoji app, the emojis include swimwear, sandals, eyewear and beach cover-ups from the new line, alongside tropical lifestyle accessories as well as versions of celebrities ranging from Rihanna to Beyonce and Kate Moss. There’s even a swimwear-clad model lounging in the mouth of a shark.

“I chose emojis as we all kind of speak in this language now and use emoji’s so much in daily chat online,” founder Anna Laub told Vogue. “I thought PRISMoji was a cute way to get people involved in the world of Prism. It’s also a fun way to shop the collection and see it in action, engaging the consumer in another light.”

Emojis from the PRISMoji app
Emojis from the PRISMoji app

Laub won The Emerging Accessory Designer of The Year for Prism at the 2014 British Fashion Awards. The brand has also been nominated for the 2016 BFC Fashion Fund.

Other brands experimenting with emojis in the past have included Footlocker, Harper’s Bazaar, Ikea, McDonald’s and more. According to emotional marketing platform Emogi, emojis are used by 92% of the online population, with the face with tears of joy the most-used globally.

social media technology

From social to wearables: Is Snapchat developing smart glasses?


It’s not impossible Snapchat is going to start making technology products that we can actually touch and wear. Or that’s certainly the hint from some of its recent hires.

CNET did some digging and found that the $16bn social media network (used by around 100m teens and younger millennials every day), has about a dozen wearable tech insiders on its payroll, as well as veterans from Nokia and Logitech.

The talk is that if it’s working on anything, it’ll be smart glasses. After all, it’s already owned Vengeance Labs (a smart eyewear startup) since 2014.

Snapchat has more recently hired a couple of key people from Microsoft’s Hololens project and Qualcomm’s Vuforia team, plus some more people with eyewear design (rather than tech) skills and has some intriguing job ads out there that hint at further eyewear development.

Given that Snapchat is all about fast photo and video messaging, smart glasses could work. One of the problems with Google’s original Glass product was that it tried to do so much and looked pretty unappealing as a result.

But smart glasses that are only about photography/video could have potential… and they’d beat the current crop of wearable cameras that still have a way to go before the reality meets the advertising claims.

Still, Snapchat’s not letting on for now so we’ll just have to wait and see.

This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Editor's pick technology

Smart watches to lead wearables growth in 2015 and beyond

This post first appeared on


Unit sales of smart watches are expected to grow 358% year-on-year in 2015, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The introduction of the Apple Watch as well as continuing uptake of other similar wrist-worn devices from the likes of Samsung and LG, will result in a total of 10.8m sales across the US.

The category – one of a number of wearable technologies being tracked by the CEA alongside fitness trackers and smart eyewear – will also see 470% growth in revenues year on year, to a total of $3.1bn. Combined, the industry is expected to hit $5.1bn in 2015 and up to $7.6bn in 2018.

“Once you put a big name like Apple or Samsung into the mix, [everyday consumers] start to take notice and start talking about them over coffee,” said Jack Cutts, director of business intelligence at the CEA, referring to the mass awareness of wearables ahead.

Speaking at technology trade event CES, he suggested these devices – smart watches especially – will be mainstream by 2018, but he urged the industry not to set expectations around the kind of penetration experienced by smartphones. Success doesn’t have to come in the form of ubiquity, he explained.

Those who do win will incorporate both ‘premium’ and ‘fun’ designs over the next few years, he outlined, with price points sitting at $500 to as low as just $30 in 2020.

He also suggested that such devices would become increasingly useful. Beyond just the communications or fitness/health tools they are today, they will also incorporate things like authentication, a central hub alongside the phone for everything to do with the ‘Internet of Things’, and more.

“Does my dad need one yet?” asked Cutts. “No, not really, it’s still a very techy device, but we’re on the cusp of that changing.”

film social media

Armani partners with VideofyMe for #framesofyou campaign


Giorgio Armani is continuing its Frames of Life campaign, this time with an initiative that calls for fans to create their own video using Swedish social platform VideofyMe.

Designed to push the brand’s sunglasses line, the #framesofyou campaign, as it’s named, invites users to capture stories of themselves or friends wearing their own eyewear using a colour filter developed exclusively for the occasion.

The VideofyMe app – which currently has over 750,000 users uploading more than 440,000 videos every month – allows anyone to shoot, filter, edit and share moving images. Unlike many other popular social video sites, however, it also allows users to overlay music from their iTunes’ library, and for up to five minutes in length.

Robert Mellberg, founder of VideofyMe, says: “We are really proud to be collaborating with a brand as globally renowned as Giorgio Armani, and believe that the creative tools offered by VideofyMe will result in some really beautiful videos for the #framesofyou initiative. The content produced by our users is continually innovative and original, and we are excited to see submissions taking advantage of the new Armani filter.”

The best submissions will be featured on the Frames of Life site, as well as across Armani’s social media channels. See an example of one of them here.

The main Frames of Life campaign for the season meanwhile, tells the stories of Luc, a writer, Carlos, a young barman, Nina, a talented cellist, and Lucille and Adrian, two successful young architects.

digital snippets e-commerce social media

Digital snippets: Gap and DVF, JC Penney, Nike, eBay and Kate Spade Saturday, Burberry

A round-up of recent stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital:


  • GapKids launches photo filters and stickers with Aviary to promote Diane von Furstenberg collection (as pictured) [TechCrunch]
  • JC Penney says ‘We’re Sorry’ and ‘Come Back’ with social media blitz [BrandChannel]
  • Nike gears customised shoe campaign to Instagram users [ClickZ]
  • eBay and Kate Spade Saturday to launch touchscreen store window [PSFK]
  • Fashion meets music with Burberry’s new eyewear campaign [Vogue Australia]
  • Condé Entertainment previews video channels for Vogue, Wired and Vanity Fair [WWD]
  • Making the best of a digital situation: what luxury brands can do to catch up online [Forbes]
  • Online, everyone can be a make-up critic [NYTimes]
digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Nike, Bloomingdale’s, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Sephora

A round-up of stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:


  • Holographic ad gives live demo of Nike shoes on the street [PSFK]
  • Bloomingdale’s installs body scanners to help you find jeans that fit (as pictured) [Mashable]
  • Michael Kors releases limited edition sneakers to celebrate reaching 500 million fans on Facebook [Web & Luxe]
  • Marc Jacobs to dress famous Japanese holograph, Hatsune Miku [Fashionista]
  • Armani touts brand personality in latest Frames of Life eyewear campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • How Sephora differentiates in digital [Digiday]
  • The Business of Fashion is nominated for a Webby Award [BoF]
  • This Bond No. 9 ‘digital fragrance’ is only sold via QR code [Styleite]
  • Tavi Gevinson creator of The Style Rookie is the next big media mogul [AdWeek]
  • Menswear e-tailer FreshCotton creates drug cookbook to promote Stüssy’s spring line [Campaign]
  • Fashion e-commerce flowers in the Middle East [BoF]
  • Japanese luxury market evolves to keep up with digital generation [Japan Daily Press]
social media Uncategorized

Warby Parker runs Google Hangouts on site at Social Media Week

It might have been all about Topshop’s big partnership with Google during London Fashion Week, but at Social Media Week (SMW), it’s Warby Parker we’re talking about.

The eyewear brand, a long-time social media enthusiast, has set up an installation at SMW’s New York HQ that allows visitors to gain feedback on which frames to choose via a Google Hangout.

A shelf at the stand is filled with glasses, encouraging users to try on different options. Rather than just looking in the mirror, they can log in to a live session where various experts are waiting to share their professional thoughts on which ones to go for.

Those on hand throughout each day include celebrities, influencers, fashion experts and members of the Warby Parker and Google teams, according to a post on SMW’s blog.

Each Hangout is being screened on site, as well as live-streamed on Warby Parker’s G+ and YouTube pages. See a couple of examples from today below.

SMW runs from February 18-22.


social media Uncategorized

Giorgio Armani crowdsources eyewear shots via Instagram #framesoflife campaign

Giorgio Armani is calling for consumers to share Instagram pictures of themselves wearing their favourite sunglasses, as part of its spring/summer 2012 Frames of Life eyewear campaign.

Frames of Your Holiday, as it’s called, invites users to upload shots of an unforgettable moment, place or scene using the #framesoflife hashtag.  The pictures will then be included in a digital photo gallery on the site.

The aim is to create an “entertaining visual diary”, reads the write-up. It suggests pictures that signify life at its fullest, ranging from holiday shots on the beach or in town, with friends or in total relaxation, immersed in the pure enjoyment of nature and sport, or surrounded by the charm of some distant city.


Diesel eyewear video features model dogs

Dogs in sunglasses, a new take on the fashion ad… why not? Diesel certainly seem to think so, releasing a particularly cinematic online video featuring its spring/summer 2012 eyewear on models of the canine variety.

Check it out below:


[The Inspiration Room]