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June 25, 2009 4:59 PM   Subscribe

So, apparently I need glasses. Where can this Canadian get the best deal on some designer frames?

After a visit to the optometrist today, I'm shopping for glasses. I found a pair that I quite like—Armani 500s—but I'm wondering if I can get them any cheaper than the $165 CDN they're charging at the local store. I've scoured previous AskMes and been reading about shopping for glasses online, checked froogle and ebay, and have found cheaper sticker prices but after you factor in shipping and the exchange rate and (I'm assuming) duty, the deal isn't quite so good.

Where do Canadians get their designer frames? Or is there some secret way to find good quality replica frames that will be available on the discount sites that I have read about here? My concern with the online sites are that I can't try on the glasses to make sure they look okay or that the quality won't be so great. Or should I just go and try the cheap glasses they have in so many stores and try to find something to pop my prescription into?

So, I guess my question(s) boil(s) down to:

1) Are designer frames worth the price, or are they just the same as the cheap ones with somebody's famous name on them?

2) If I go for the nice Armani glasses, is there a cheaper place to get them than the store I was in? (Note also that I do not have a Costco membership)
posted by synecdoche to Shopping (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I got my last pair of glasses from the framesdirect.com site you linked to. They were considerably cheaper than what they were going for at the local Lenscrafters here... Strangely, I paid no duty. NB that there's a bit of price variation among the online retailers.

FWIW as a data point, I've never had a hassle with any of my 'brand name' glasses, but a friend with a seriously cheap 'discount' pair has had his break twice in a few months. If you go the cheap route, see what sort of warranties are offered.
posted by kmennie at 5:13 PM on June 25, 2009

Bizarre cash saving tip. Do you have a CAA membership? When I bought my gorgeous and really overpriced Chanel glasses at Lenscrafter in Toronto, they had a whole bunch of ways I could save some cash. CAA membership was one of them - 40% off the frames. I didn't have one, but my parents do and the store let me phone my mom and get their CAA number and use it. So worth calling around to see who has what discount!
posted by meerkatty at 5:15 PM on June 25, 2009

Zenni Optical has many "designer" frames starting at USD $8.00 (including prescription lenses), and shipping to Canada is a flat $6.95. A quick scan found this $19 frame which is similar (at least a little bit) to the Armanis.
posted by Perplexer at 5:24 PM on June 25, 2009

As someone who used to spend over $300 per pair of glasses, I'm enthusiastically seconding Zenni Optical. I have had nothing but fantastic experiences with them. Be sure to get your pupillary distance from your optometrist. Also, if you've already got a pair of glasses or sunglasses that fit well, measure them and aim for those numbers when selecting a frame. I had two go through two $10 pairs before hitting the jackpot of my favorite frames ever (and at only $18!)
posted by theraflu at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2009

I bought a pair of Prada frames from these guys, and it was a good price and good service... actaully I think they put in the lenses too. It's my second pair of Prada glasses, and I think it's worth it - the style is good but not too flashy or blingy, and they are very solid and durable. My first pair I left on an SAA plane in South Africa, and those frames I bought on EBay from a woman in Brooklyn, and had lenses installed by another online eyewear place in the UK... complicated, but a fraction of the price of getting them on the high street.
As to seeing how they actually look, you could always just go to an optometrist and try on a pair, or a similar pair, there.
posted by Flashman at 5:39 PM on June 25, 2009

http://www.clearlycontacts.ca is where I buy my contacts...they have a lot of glasses and a good return policy...
posted by stray at 6:10 PM on June 25, 2009

the sites listed on glassy eyes seem to go between free and 9 bucks for shipping to canada.

go to expensive brick and mortar stores. try on the glasses. find the ones you like, write down their model and measurements. go to cheap internet site and order them.
posted by nadawi at 7:01 PM on June 25, 2009

framesdirect.com has the best designer selection in my experience.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:35 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Zenni Optical. Avoid the Luxottica tax (which, if you look at the FramesDirect link above, you can see is about 1500%).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:43 AM on June 26, 2009

I'll second framesdirect.com.... even with postage to Australia, they were about $150 cheaper than if I had bought the same designer glasses locally. Good customer service too - was strange, but nice, for a customer service person to call me all the way from the US to confirm that my order was being shipped to me.
posted by ryanbryan at 6:02 AM on June 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. Remarkably, the store attached to the optometrist's office ended up being the cheapest I could find for these frames. I'm keeping all of these links in mind though should (when) I ever need to replace them and won't be able to get my insurance to pay for them.
posted by synecdoche at 7:04 PM on July 6, 2009

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