About two months ago, a (video) reporter from The New York Times requested an interview for a story on Warby Parker. When I noted in my response that “Warby was indeed a hot topic of conversations these days in opti-land,” she intensified her pursuit.

Her vague details on the nature of the story centered on WP positioning its retail strategy as an online initiative for consumers looking to eliminate the middleman in optical dispensing with some very specific regard to the massive dominance of  eyewear manufacturing and optical chain store giants, specifically Luxottica and Lenscrafters.

I noted the entities she was portraying as giants were indeed formidable but the “David and Goliath” battle being marketed by WP was suspect as it regards the whole current eyewear dispensing scenario.

On the day of this Times video-interview, 20/20’s edit team was deep into the selection process for feature photo shoots intended for the upcoming March Expo issue. That being the case, my office was filled with a selection of over 70 pairs of eyeglasses from an equally impressive range of manufacturers.

I spoke (on camera) about the looming presence of online retailing in eyewear, noting that WP was only one of a growing number of such business practices and discussed online refracting, addressing both medical and service-related issues distinct to the actual dispensing and retailing of eyewear.

I also made it clear that I wasn’t buying in to the scenario of WP being the upstart alternative to some mega-monster manufacturer.

The reporter videoed our eyewear selection and asked to see all of the Luxottica frames being depicted. I showed her the Persols chosen. She then asked if all of the other frames were selections specifically from 20/20 advertisers. I noted that wasn’t the case with more than half of the frames coming from non-advertisers, adding 20/20’s role focused on delivering a broad range of product in a variety of price points. I added that our readers were qualified optical professionals but there were a growing number of consumers following 20/20 online on FB, Twitter, Instagram and via the 2020mag app.

I could tell this story was getting far more complex than planned. Perhaps that’s why it hasn’t appeared yet. And… if it has by the time you read this, I hope I succeeded in not coming across as Warby Spina or Jimmy Spinottica. Quite simply… IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE. I hope the Times sees that. I hope the consumer sees that and… I hope you are gearing up, perhaps with some of the eyewear and attitude delivered in this very issue.

James J. Spina