Near- and farsighted fashionistas, rejoice: Cult eyewear retailer Warby Parker is coming to Chicago for good. Their newest concept store and first-ever Chicago location, The Warby Parker Frame Studio, will open at 837 W. Armitage Ave. on November 22, followed by a permanent location at 851 W. Armitage in the spring. And the brand is taking the whole “lens” concept to the next level with an in-store photographer and plenty of old-school photography references.
Warby Parker’s largely Web-based operation has allowed them to keep costs low from the beginning, but they’ve been venturing into brick-and-mortar locations for the past two years with significant success. After opening their first physical showroom in SoHo in 2012, they expanded to Boston and Los Angeles, and will open a San Francisco location this month along with their new Chicago showroom. Until now, Bucktown’s Apartment Number 9 was the only place in Chicago to try on Warby Parker frames, but that showroom will be discontinued when the Frame Studio launches.
As is typical of Warby Parker stores, customers will be free to test out frames and receive adjustments by in-store opticians, but the presence of a local photographer is what makes Chicago’s shop more interactive than others. All photos are complimentary, and customers are encouraged to bring friends, family, and props to stage holiday portraits and ambitious Facebook cover photos. But most importantly, the photos are one more way to decide whether you love a given pair of glasses.
The photography theme extends throughout the store, too. The space will be decorated with Apple crates—a common film and photography prop—and the salespeople, called “advisors,” will wear aprons designed by Brooklyn’s Kill Devil Kill as an homage to old-school photo lab aprons. Customers can also test out their eyewear in front of a retro VHS player stocked with cold-weather films, and rare cameras will be displayed throughout the studio (as well as available for purchase). Because, after all, nothing shows off your great eye like tortoiseshell frames and a vintage Nikon around your neck.
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