Classic Specs: A Chat with Andrew Lipovsky
Many of you know I’m a fan of a good deal, and nothing makes me happier than when that deal is attacheded to some quality merchandise.
Since I wear glasses every day, and since eyewear is rarely something one can thrift for—frames, sure, but adding Rx lenses to those vintage frames at your local optometrist can set you back hundreds of dollars—I’m always happy to come across new online eyewear merchants that offer well-made and stylish frames at reasonable prices.
Warby Parker seems to dominate the affordable online eyewear airtime on tumblr, but the most affordable and perhaps best I’ve yet found can be had from Classic Specs. Warby Parkers and Lookmatic frames will set you back just under $100 with Rx lenses, but Classic Specs are priced to sell at $89 shipped to your door, with a hassle free free return policy to boot. Not bad. And they have an amazingly large selection of frames to choose from.
I recently had a chance to chat on the phone with Andrew Lipovsky, one half of the duo behind Classic Specs, which got its start in—and remains based out of—Brooklyn, NY. We spoke of a lot of things, most of it eyewear related, including Andrew’s passion for vintage eyeglass frames and the influences of growing up around a friend whose father was an optometrist.
One thing our conversation made clear to me was that the personal approach Andrew takes to running an eyewear business doesn’t stop with nostalgia for his youth and a bent for the vintage—he’s truly committed to creating affordable eyewear that speaks to his client’s tastes and desires. I often feel that stumbling across a retailer on the web automatically creates a sense of impersonality—real, or illusory—but my conversation with Andrew really made me realize that Classic Specs is a pretty small operation, and a definitively local one if you live in NY.
Each weekend Andrew and his business partner can still be found at the Brooklyn Flea Market interacting with customers and taking notes on their feedback, which they then bring with them back to the drawing board as they design new products. This level of personal interaction with clients floored me. I was even regaled with stories of some things that customers pined for, were given, and have not had the staying power one might have hoped for. There is an openness to experimentation in what Classic Spec’s is doing that I find quite admirable.
Though Classic Specs got its start as a stall at the venerable Brooklyn Flea Market, they now have a showroom that you can visit too if you live in the area, or if you are ever in NY for a visit. It’s in Williamsburg (not far from a Blue Bottle Coffee, so I’m told…), at 85 N. 3rd St, Ste. #112.
I’ve posted some pictures of a pair of Classic Specs that Andrew was kind enough to send me, and I can say I am quite pleased with them. Most, if not all, of the acetate that Classic Specs uses for its frames comes from Italy (many from the same factories that produce acetates for high-end writing instruments), and the acetates are turned into frames at a production facility in China. The quality of my frames was excellent, and the fit and finish left nothing to be desired. Best of all, for Rx sunglasses, customers have 4 tints to choose from. I went with the Neptune frame in ‘Moss’ (a translucent olive green) w/ an Amber tint. The lenses are all polycarbonate (which are lighter and stronger than regular CR-39 plastic lenses, and impact and shatter resistant as well), and come with scratch-resistant and anti-glare coatings. Additionally, all sunglasses come with polarized lenses that are made by NuPolar, which can set you back some serious money if you get them from other sources, but they’re priced amazingly low at Classic Specs.
The nailed my prescription perfectly, and the crispness of image I’m getting through the lenses is actually better than that of any of my other prescription sunglasses. If you’re in the market for some new glasses, definitely give Classic Specs a shot. For many reasons, but if for nothing else, it’s a risk free proposition and 6% of your total purchase price is donated to New Eyes for the Needy—a charitable organization dedicated to helping those less fortunate obtain the correctional eyewear they need to get along.
Though he could not say what it was, Andrew promised me that something big is in the works for Classic Specs, and (fully cognizant of the cheesy metaphor) he cautioned patience, and instructed me to just “wait and see…” I definitely will.
Check them out at:
85 N. 3rd St.
Brooklyn, NY. 11249