Why you should care

Because glasses are expensive. Why not rent them?

Le geek, c’est chic. Somehow it has become cool to be shortsighted. With Emma Watson and Jennifer Aniston sporting frames these days, it’s a great time to embrace the four-eyes look. But fashion is fickle. A new eyewear subscription service lets wearers stay on trend by switching up their specs style regularly, whenever the mood moves them.

It’s a new take on those beauty box services — kind of like a Netflix for glasses — called Endless Eyewear. For $29 a month, you receive a pair of glasses with your prescription ($19 for sunglasses) that you can switch out whenever you’re bored, as many times as you like. You keep your current pair till the new one arrives, and shipping is free both ways. The service, which started in February, is operated by Ditto, an online spectacle retailer based in San Mateo, California.

Interest had been so high that it had to temporarily close sign-ups while it figured out how to cater to the demand.

But what would make a company that sells glasses — at full price — go with this type of service? It’s challenging to buy just one pair of glasses, explains Catherine Magee, Ditto’s vice president of marketing. “We call it the ‘one and done’ decision,” she says. Because “quality and fashionable eyewear is expensive,” she explains, many people are stuck wearing the same pair of glasses for a year or longer. Endless Eyewear gives wearers the option to change up their frames when it suits them. And it’s already popular: Interest had been so high that Ditto had to temporarily close sign-ups while it figured out how to cater to the demand — it has since reopened for new subscribers.

Where Endless Eyewear differs from other subscription services — whether for makeup, clothes, records or weed — is there’s no “surprise element” that people enjoy, says Liz Cadman, editor of My Subscription Addiction. Which maybe takes a little of the fun out of it. “But the risk is eliminated,” she says. “You’ve picked out what you want, so there’s very little chance you’ll be disappointed with what you receive.”

The Girls With Glasses blogger Summer Bellessa doesn’t see it that way. What she likes: It’s an opportunity to “pick styles and colors that might be outside your comfort zone,” then trade in the shades when you’re done. Bellessa is a fan of Ditto’s try-on software that lets you view glasses on a 3-D model of your head. But Siu-Yin Shing, editor of MyGlassesandMe, says that trying on virtually isn’t the same as in person: “Picking a pair of glasses is a very personal thing, to ensure a good fit against your nose and to see whether your ears are aligned.” Which means some spec shoppers might still want to visit Warby Parker for low-cost stylish frames.

Either way, we can enjoy the positive perception that wearers of glasses now receive. “Society has realized that being smart is sexy,” says Bellessa. “Nerds rule the world and make it a better place; thus things that once were thought of as nerdy are now sought after.”

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