Innovative New York City-based eyewear retailer Warby Parker officially opens its second Canadian store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre on Saturday, December 17, and we toured the space ahead of the date to take photos for this article. The spacious 1,825 square foot Warby Parker is one of only a handful in an enclosed shopping centre, with most of the company’s stores being located on urban street-fronts.
Yorkdale’s Warby Parker features a unique facade by local artist Micah Lexier, including a text-based piece that spans the store’s entire facade. Local art is also featured inside, with a vibrant mural behind the store’s ‘Reference Desk’ by artist Adrian Forrow. The store’s design is library-inspired with terrazzo-tiled flooring, suspended globe lighting, walnut shelving, and colourful book displays overhead. Books by Canadian authors are also available for purchase in the store.
In honour of the new Yorkdale store, Warby Parker has released a limited edition style of sunglasses. The style is called ‘Haskell’ and includes a new acetate colour, Striped Pacific, and a striking new lens colour — Flash Mirrored Chrome.
Yorkdale is Warby Parker’s second Canadian store, following the August opening of a location at 684 Queen Street West in Toronto’s hip ‘West Queen West’ neighbourhood. That location spans just over 1,000 square feet on its ground floor. More Canadian Warby Parker stores are expected to follow, though the company won’t confirm any new locations.
With many of its glasses/frame combos priced at $150, Warby Parker is entering an increasingly competitive value-priced eyewear market in Canada. Clearly Contacts began opening Canadian locations in the spring of 2013 (now with two Vancouver stores and one in Toronto), and Australia’s Bailey Nelson began opening stores in the summer of 2014. Montreal-based BonLook, with many of its designs priced at $135/pair (including lenses), opened its first Ontario stores this month — with plans to operate about 10 Ontario locations, 10 in Quebec, and several in Western Canada.
Warby Parker is expanding rapidly within the United States as well, now boasting 46 store locations. Most of these are on urban street-fronts, with only a handful of Warby Parker stores being in enclosed malls. The company has ambitious plans to open many more physical stores, we’re told, so more shopping mall stores are likely in the works for the United States in the coming years.
The company was founded in 2010 as a pure play online retailer. Having since expanded into brick-and-mortar, Warby Parker designs its glasses in-house and sells directly to customers, with prices that are generally lower than regular optical stores.