Fashion

The Best Online Eyewear Stores In The UK

Tried and tested to make your lockdown glasses purchase as simple as poss.

As we enter lockdown 2.0 – and with the potential of future lockdowns not quite so unlikely as before – it’s only sensible to start considering online alternatives for daily tasks and buys. Since the first COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve found digital ways to keep in touch with family and support local businesses, as well as stream movies in tandem with friends and host all manner of virtual events. But what about the practical stuff? What about the bigger buys that you take for granted until all of a sudden they’re gone? What about GLASSES?

Perhaps you sat on your glasses while rushing to the sofa for Bake Off, or maybe you fell asleep with your specs still on only to wake up 2 hours later with a lens popped out and never to be seen again. At this point, it’s been a long lockdown — trust me, we’ve all been there.

Lucky for you, we’ve trawled the internet for the best selection of eyewear stores, and tried and tested them all. Their services, though slightly different in what they offer, are all top notch by way of providing a chic pair of specs that don’t require stepping foot in an IRL optician's once.

So, have your prescription at the ready — these stores are about to give you serious eyewear-envy.

The Charitable Option

Bloobloom

Bloobloom put their impact on the world first. Providing glasses to those who need them is as much a priority for this brand as giving their paying customers the specs they deserve. On top of this, transparency of process (there’s even a flow chart) means you know exactly where your glasses are coming from, and how your £95 is spent.

Variety Of Frames

While the variety isn’t as vast as your mainstream eyewear outlets, the simplicity of these frames mean there’s one for every taste. All frames also come in at least three colourways, meaning you can truly mix and match to your heart’s content.

Affordability

Bloobloom operates a ‘Pay What You Can’ policy for your second pair of frames — it comes with three price points, the cheapest of which covering the cost of the frames and the most expensive contributing to development costs and Bloobloom’s Pair For A Pair programme.

Quality

These glasses are solid in every sense of the word. Not only are the lenses kitted out with all the modcons (anti-reflective glazing is a must, IMHO), the frames are sturdy and hinges strong.

Courtesy of Charlie Mock

Try-On Service

Arriving neatly packed in a chic Bloobloom blue hard shell, you can guarantee your frames will arrive in tip top condition.

Ease Of Ordering Online

The website interface makes it incredibly easy to compare the frames you’re picking out. There’s also detailed information on the sizing of frames and how to compare this to any frames you currently own — super helpful if you’re new to the online glasses shopping game.

Bloobloom.com

The Super Affordable Option

Zenni

Zenni are all about affordability and giving people style without the price tag. Founded in 2003 by two scientists, it’s no surprise their platform is chic and easy to navigate. They ship globally (don’t be alarmed by the U.S. prices) and starting at $6.95 for single-vision prescription, they’re a great option for anyone looking to try a style before committing to a designer label.

Variety Of Frames

Zenni has more than enough styles to please even the pickiest of shoppers. They’re also a great option for anyone looking for something a bit different, or a statement pair of specs to compliment a particular outfit or occasion.

Affordability

The variety of price points is almost as vast as Zenni’s variety of frames. Finding a fashionable pair for less than £50 (lenses included) is entirely possible, but you will have to sacrifice additional glazing and protection on your lenses.

Quality

As expected, the strength of each frame will depend somewhat on the price. That said, you are certainly getting more than you pay for; even the cheapest of frames I tried are fit for purpose and super cute. Bonus: you can get your monogram added to the inside of certain frames!

Courtesty of Charlie Mock

Try-On Service

Zenni’s try on service is entirely digital — while this may not work for some people, I found my virtual try-on to be almost identical to the real life outcome. Pictured above, the same set of frames IRL and URL.

Ease Of Ordering Online

I was super impressed with how easy Zenni made inputting my prescription and understanding exactly which numbers they needed from me. The amount of options for lenses, glazes, and frames can be somewhat overwhelming though, so make sure you set aside enough time to read all the info before adding to basket.

Zennioptical.com

The Eco-Conscious Option

MONC

A small brand based in West London, MONC are newer to the online eyewear market than most mentioned here. What sets them apart is their commitment to sustainability and ethical process, which means you can shop for your news frames with the ultimate peace of mind.

Variety Of Frames

Each pair of MONC frames is part a unique batch which allows the brand to reduce their waste at every level — while they focus on a smaller, core range of styles, each comes in an excellent selection of colours.

Affordability

Frames are just a little more pricey than competitors (around £185 to £220), but MONC’s brilliant sustainability practices (more about those here) make the additional cost more than worthwhile.

Quality

MONC’s manufacturers, based in Italy, are a family-run business with knowledge of eyewear craftsmanship that has been passed down through three generations. Needless to say, these glasses are quite literally gorgeous.

Courtesy of Charlie Mock

Try-On Service

MONC pride themselves on their zero waste at home try-on service, and with good reason. Frames are sent out in a MONC hard case that is kept safe inside a Versapack reusable pouch (basically a bank bag). Everything is sanitised on return to the MONC offices so this service isn’t just incredibly sustainable, it’s also incredibly clean.

Ease Of Ordering Online

Within your home try-on package, you’ll find a cardboard sheet with additional information on prescriptions and a handy tool to accurately measure your pupillary distance. In terms of providing customers with the means to get their order spot-on first time, MONC takes home the trophy.

Monclondon.co.uk

The 360 Option

Cubitts

Now in its seventh year, Cubitts is a London-based eyewear brand that takes every aspect of its business as seriously as the specs. That means sustainability, bespoke offerings, and democratising the eyewear industry are all high on their list. What’s not to love?

Variety Of Frames

Cubitts’ frames are simple and stylish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jazz them up. Certain frames come with the option of 20+ colourways — a dream if, like me, once you’ve found your style you want a pair to go with every outfit you own.

Affordability

Transparency around cost is paramount at Cubitts, so you can guarantee that the price advertised is what you’ll be paying for everything involved in getting a good pair of specs. Frames start at £125 which includes scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and water-repellent lenses.

Quality

10/10 — enough said.

Try-On Service

Cubitts are the 360 approach for a reason — their virtual try-on is accompanied by a top class at home try-on, and physical stores for when you want that extra bit of professional advice. If opting for the at home try-on, the process couldn’t be easier. After testing out your frames, simply use the included postage label to return the box to Cubitts via the Post Office.

Ease Of Ordering Online

Cubbits provide a brilliant selection of information for anyone new to the online prescription ordering game. They also offer an email service for anyone with a slightly tricky prescription (like one that includes a prism) whose lenses may need additional features.

Cubitts.com

The Big Name Option

Specsavers

Though this eyewear giant needs no introduction, it’s probably lesser known that the optician offers an online try-on service. Browse the store’s hundreds of designer and own brand frames, pop them on via an augmented reality try-on software, then input your prescription for glazing.

Variety Of Frames

Specsavers have so many options that shopping for glasses can be a little overwhelming, but if you know what you’re looking for it’s truly a treasure trove of styles that you might not always find in physical stores.

Affordability

The designer names available on Specsavers can mean frames end up setting you back upwards of £150, however their own-brand offering and affordable lines are equally stylish and start at a tiny £30 when paired with the most basic lens option.

Quality

Naturally, there will be a certain amount of variation in quality based on the amount you’re spending — however, Specsavers’ more affordable ranges are known for their durability and for that reason you really can’t go wrong.

Courtesy of Charlie Mock

Try-On Service

While augmented reality try-on services can be a bit janky – the technology currently means frames won’t appear proportionately on your face and rather are just placed – I was incredibly impressed by how accurate my try-on was. The frames I chose (pictured) are simple, which could be a case for not going too far out of your comfort zone if completely forgoing an IRL try-on situation.

Ease Of Ordering Online

Specsavers’ onsite information is what sets them apart. Their lens guide spells out exactly what you get with each type, as well as who particular lenses might be best suited to.

Specsavers.co.uk

The Vintage Option

Peep Eyewear

Peep Eyewear is an independent vintage eyewear business run out of founder Jo’s home. Glasses are sourced and restored by the Peep team (also family) and arrive at your house in adorable cases handmade from deadstock '70s fabric by Jo’s mum, AKA Mama Peep. Oh, and every pair sold plants a tree!

Variety Of Frames

The frames are vintage so once a pair is gone, it’s gone. But this does give you the added bonus of knowing that whichever frames you choose will be unique to you! Plus, it’s a highly sustainable way of finding a new pair of specs.

Courtesy of Charlie Mock

Affordability

Frames range from £49 to £200 depending on the brand and quality of materials. The pricing means there’s a frame for most budgets.

Quality

When looked after, glasses can last a lifetime — these vintage frames are no exception. The fact that they’re still here, looking this good is testament to the quality and the incredible effort that Jo’s team put into saving frames from landfill.

Try-On Service

Choose three pairs to be delivered to your home, try them on, and then pop them back in the post free of charge.

Ease Of Ordering Online

Jo is on-hand to answer any questions you may have about the fit or glazing of your frames — having a specific point of contact for your order means Peep’s service feels especially bespoke, a huge luxury in a sea of eyewear brands scrambling for business with competitive prices and new launches.

Peepeyewear.co.uk

The All-Rounder

Ace & Tate

If you’ve browsed online eyewear stores at least once over the last couple of years, then it’s likely you’ll have been served an Ace & Tate ad. The Dutch company launched in 2013 and has since totally transformed the shape of the glasses industry, paving the way for many brands mentioned in this article.

Variety Of Frames

Most styles come in a whole host of colours, but Ace & Tate’s sizing is where they stand apart from competitors. Many frames also come in a ‘Large’ size, which adjusts all aspects of a frame (i.e. not just the width) to ensure proportions are spot on.

Courtesy of Ace & Tate

Affordability

While Ace & Tate do have some hidden costs (blue light filter is an added £30 for example) the basic lenses come equipped with anti-reflection and anti-scratch coating, as well as UV protection. Leaving the store – or site – with a fresh pair of incredibly stylish frames for £98 is entirely doable.

Quality

Ace & Tate leapfrog the license holder and retail portions of the supply chain, meaning they’re able to provide designer-quality frames for a high street price. Basically, you can’t go wrong here.

Try-On Service

Along with Warby Parker, Ace & Tate were among the first to make at-home try ons a more mainstream offering, so suffice to say they’ve got it down to a fine art. Select five frames that will arrive in a hardshell box, then spend five days road testing your prospective pairs — easy. Plus with bricks and mortar stores in 10 UK cities, Ace & Tate can now also be your go-to for an eye test!

Ease Of Ordering Online

Between the clean interface and clarity of instructions (including an online pupillary distance measurement too), Ace & Tate have gone above and beyond to ensure securing your new glasses is as painless as possible. Plus, a wishlist in the top right hand corner makes it incredibly easy to keep track of the styles you’re lusting over.

Aceandtate.com