Learn more about Vint & York and review how Founder Larisa Ginzburg is evolving her company’s online platform to sell more eyeglasses for modern nostalgics in the face of the COVD-19 pandemic.
This article is part of an ongoing series examining how startups, small businesses and retailers are managing uncertainty in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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About Vint & York
Vint & York is a digital-first eyewear brand that sells unique, vintage-inspired prescription eyeglass and sunglasses online and through a flagship brick and mortar in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.
Larisa Ginzburg founded Vint & York in 2012 to “reimagine the best of vintage silhouettes and trends into timeless and contemporary designed frames that are stylish, chic, and sophisticatedly nostalgic.”
She told me that her goal is “to inspire everybody to style boldly, manifest their self-expression and add character to their looks.”
“These are the things we keep in mind when we design and curate our eyewear,” she added.
Vint & York offers a VR-powered virtual try-on option plus free shipping and free returns, making their nostalgic glasses a unique alternative to Warby Parker’s home try on program.
Larisa pointed to the high-quality of Vint & York’s eyeglasses offerings as a particular selling point.
“We are proud of the meticulous detail that goes into designing each pair of glasses,” she told me. She added that all of Vint & York’s frames are made from high-quality, durable acetate.
“Vint & York offers all the lenses you would find in a ‘regular’ optical shop, but we make it fashionable: we combine the edgiest frame styles with the most sought-after lenses, like blue light protection lenses, progressive lenses, readers or tinted lines, and we customize every pair for any type of prescription,” she added.
That last point is particularly important: Vint & York can handle a wide variety of prescriptions. From experience, I know that not every online glasses retailer can accommodate the prism correction that is required to treat my astigmatism.
I asked Larisa to unpack the impact of COVID-19 on Vint & York and to describe where she sees the future of retail and online prescription eyewear headed. Her first-person account is below, lightly-edited for grammar and length.
Reevaluating customer needs
“During these hard times, our customers need more from us (and for less).
“Our team has taken this time to reevaluate our customer’s needs and reengineer what we believe to be the future of shopping.
“The situation has pushed consumers towards online purchasing like never before. While we previously saw a familiar pattern where customers would browse online and buy in-store, today’s consumers expect an end-to-end digital shopping experience that takes them from browse-to-buy.
“While physical touch will always be important, our customers are busy people and their comfort with online shopping is growing.
“For the safety of our customers and staff, we closed the doors [to our flagship store in Nolita] to help fight the COVID outbreak.
“We are lucky to have a group of loyal and dedicated employees and we were able to keep most of the team intact working from different places within the United States and abroad and we even added a few people to the online team.
The future of brand discovery in the New Normal
“Brand discovery will be shifted fully to Social Media, Search Engines and Digital Ads.
“Virtual try on technology will also be very important for the consumers and will be evolving as better interfaces become available.
“Since consumers don’t visit physical stores as much, one-on-one consultation and communication via chat and emails are essential in today’s climate.
How Vint & York is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic
“One trend is that we definitely see a bigger demand for blue light lenses.
“We now offer blue light lenses by out own brand Eyefend in more options: progressive, readers, non-prescription and prescription.
[Editor’s note: For a deep-dive into the science behind blue light glasses, see Why I (Skeptically) Tried Blue Light Glasses, and How They Helped My Bleary Eyes.]
“Another way that we have adjusted is by further optimizing our customer-centric digital experience.
“For example, we:
- enhanced the company’s VR capabilities to power Vint & York’s Virtual Try On;
- are piloting one-on-one styling concierge consultations via Zoom; and
- began allowing customers take PD measurements online.
“We also expanded our Free Shipping and Free Easy Returns program nationwide and internationally.
“[Going forward,] the plan is to continue developing products and collections that resonate with our customers.
“At the same time, we’ll look to offer an unparalleled online shopping experience using the latest technologies in VR and AI. We have plans to further expand globally as well.”
Photo credit: All photos are courtesy of Vint & York and were used with permission.
About JakeJake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.
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