GLASSES: THE BEST, MOST AFFORDABLE BRANDS

Zadie Smith. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images

I have been meaning to do this round-up on the site for so long because, as someone who could rarely afford new glasses or would have to use all my birthday wishes to access new frames, the glasses industry has really turned itself around in the last few years in terms of accessibility. There’s still a long way to go to fully include those who need thicker lenses and varifocals but hopefully these more affordable options can help more people find a more attractive offering at a decent price. All of these brands sell online too, but we have mentioned stores if they have (because sometimes it’s nice to have a try-on session, especially when glasses are so personal).

1. IOLLA

IOLLA launched in 2015 and has stores in Scotland but a large offering online, too. Every frame is designed in-house and made from acetate.

Price point: £75 for prescription glasses and sunglasses. Thinner lenses at no extra cost (up to 1.74 index).

Varifocals? £70 extra (£145 for frames)

Eye tests offered? NO (take your prescription with)

Virtual try-on? YES

Home try-on? NO

Any charity or sustainability credentials? Iolla work with Orbis charity and are very transparent about their production methods and factories (read more here). They also offer ‘refresh’ services allowing you to keep every pair for longer.

Fun trivia: They produced the glasses for Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) in Series 5 of ‘Peaky Blinders’.


2. BLOOBLOOM

Bloobloom’s ethos is to offer great quality ethical prescription eyewear (sunglasses and eye glasses) with a transparent pricing structure (their mark-ups and production costs are shown throughout the site).

Image: Bloobloom

Price point: All frames, including single vision lenses are £95. Extras are at an additional cost, such as blue light filter. Lens thinning is included in this price, varifocals cost an additional £100 as they are custom-made (they also take a few days extra to make).

Home try-on? YES up to 5 pairs (only currently available in the UK) with free delivery and returns.

Eye tests offered? YES, and for free in their London stores.

Any sustainable or charity credentials? The site is very transparent about their mark-ups and are part of their own a ‘pair for pair’ scheme. You can also take in your old frames to be recycled in their stores.

‘Virtuoso‘, one of BlooBloom’s most popular styles

One critique I have when browsing was that in the ‘womens’ section of glasses (which probably isn’t necessary, anyway) there are glasses called ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Dancer’ which don’t exist in the men’s section – but that’s probably just me being pernickety. Other than that, this brands ticks all the boxes!

Fun trivia: They have a ‘pay what you can’ scheme, so if you order a second pair, you choose between three price points.


3. ACE & TATE

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