In partnership with Pair Eyewear.
In sixth grade I visited the eye doctor for the first time, and discovered that everyone else was seeing details like the leaves on the trees, far away signs, faces of loved ones when they weren’t three feet away… the list goes on. Since then, I’ve mostly moved over into the realm of contacts, particularly in adulthood, but as a lifelong user of products for the vision-impaired, I can tell you things have gotten a lot better since I was first getting fitted with a pair at 12 years old.
What’s the single most terrifying thing about getting new glasses? If you’re me, back then (and now, kind of), it’s that even after carefully narrowing down the field from ten, to five, to one pair, that as soon as I leave the optometrist, I’ll begin to hate the glasses I chose. Irrational, yes, but when it comes to something you’re wearing on your face every single day, a little irrational thinking makes sense. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one dealing with this issue. Enter Pair Eyewear, who set out to solve customization in the eyewear space. Let’s get into it.
- Makes owning multiple glasses styles extremely affordable
- Great price point for first-time glasses-wearers
- Solves the prescription sunglasses dilemma
- Customization includes licensed partnerships with Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and more
- Smooth online ordering process and 30 day return window
We don't like
- High-end brand names aren’t available
- Progressive lenses are an extra fee
More Glasses Options Without The Sticker Shock
For glasses-wearing people who struggle with the same indecisiveness, Pair has disrupted the system with their base frames and top frames setup. Pair customers get to choose one base shape or frame style, all of which have cute names a la Warby Parker, and then a series of top frames that clip on and off the base, so customization doesn’t involve actually purchasing four or five pairs at a time. It’s a pretty brilliant move that’s possible because Pair makes all their own frames in house, sidestepping a monolithic company at the top of Big Glasses who is responsible for keeping frame prices so high in the industry.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of the Pair setup: The base frames cost $60 for both kids and adults, but then a whole host of top frames options can be added for an additional $25-$30. The top frames stay on the base frames with magnets, ideally remaining firmly in place for extended wearing. That means getting a base frame with three additional options would run you about $150—which is close to the price for one normal pair of frames. And, once your base frame is in place (I’m a Wanda), it’s easy to return to Pair during different seasons to get sunglasses options, holiday-themed frames, or a vacation-ready pair that really pops. Currently, there are ten base frame options for men, ten for women, and five for kids.
If you’ve never worn glasses before, getting in and out on a new pair for $85-$90 is a great deal for your first time. You can get reimbursed for your purchase through vision insurance, like at any other eyewear store, and they’re also accepted by most HSA and FSA accounts. Note: Because top frames are considered aesthetic and not medical, you may have to cover those yourself, it all depends on the insurance carrier. Also, these $30 sun tops solved my dilemma over whether to invest in pricey prescription sunglasses that we all know I’m very likely to lose after one or two trips to the beach. At least if this pair goes missing, I’m only out the cost of a round or two at happy hour.
Pair Is Great For Kids And Adults, With Some Caveats
The company started off catering to eyewear for children, and I wish it had been around when I was a kid, because insurance companies tend to be pretty particular about only covering one pair of glasses every year. If you are shopping with and for a child, it also means that you can commit to an iridescent purple-blue pair to support your kid’s eccentric taste (thanks mom!) but also swap back to simple black if those glasses aren’t considered “cool” anymore within two days.
Speaking of cool, one potential drawback is that because all the Pair frames are made in-house, there are no designer options available. So if you’re an adult glasses-wearer who always goes for the same brand name, that won’t be on offer here. However, in its place is something more unique—licensing partnerships with the estates of Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, and brand collaborations with Harry Potter, Peanuts, and more on the way. For culture and entertainment obsessed, these partnerships are the perfect way to show your allegiance to the house of Gryffindor or all that is good and pure about Linus and Lucy.
Additionally, if your prescription is complicated or requires progressive lenses, those are going to run you an additional cost, just like they would at a normal optometrist option. In some ways, that’s not really Pair’s fault though, because more complex lenses are just more expensive to make.
Through Thick and Thin
One difference between Pair and other glasses brands is related to relative thickness or thinness of the base frames, and how they look with top frames added. If weight or thickness is an issue, you can always stick with just the base frames. These are more flexible than other frames I’ve worn, because they leave room for another layer.
As they’re competing with big players in the space like Warby Parker, Pair has made sure their online ordering and prescription process is seamless. You select either an eyeglasses or a sunglasses base, opt for your lens type (single vision, progressive, readers, or non-prescription), add your prescription, and then you’ll have the option for lens customization. Premium lenses, blue light filtering, or light responsive lenses come at an additional cost that’s right in line with optometrist pricing at other carriers ($49-$149).
Purchases over $40 come with free shipping, and if you don’t like your order, for whatever reason, you can return it for free within a 30 day return window. More likely? You’ll just be returning to the site to grab a “champagne” topper for a New Year’s Eve party, or lock in some sunglasses to block out your first hangover of 2024. For the price point, the creativity, and the ease of ordering, Pair is the perfect way to easily add more options to your glasses repertoire.
Pair co-founder Nathan Kondamuri has been wearing glasses since the tender age of eight, so he’s more than familiar with the continual boredom and sometimes embarrassment that wearing glasses can bring. Turning that idea on its head is a big part of the impetus for creating Pair in the first place, and overall, is a great fit for kids, or a quick stylish choice, as well as your everyday, all-the-time glasses.
Glasses-wearers who are bored with the status quo will likely enjoy the chance to try some new styles—and for shoppers who are motivated by a charity angle, Pair’s got one of those, too. Working with The Eyelliance, Pair uses their “Pair for a Pair” program to provide glasses and vision care to children in need in developing countries throughout the world. If that’s not a reason to grab a pair of neon pink frames for January, I don’t know what is. An additional 20% for shopping between now and December 3rd doesn’t hurt either.