- One of the largest offerings (if not the largest) of name-brand designer frames on the web.
- Most popular name-brand frame retailer on the web for many years.
- 30 day lens guarantee (if unsatisfied with the lenses they'll remake the lens for free).
- Frames and lenses carry 1-year manufacturer's warranty.
- BBB-accredited with a B rating.
Frames Direct is located in the US (Texas). Base pricing in USD, although you can choose your local currency (you will be billed in USD though). They sell regular sunglasses as well as single-vision and bi-focal/tri-focal/progressive lenses. They have phone/fax numbers, a toll free phone number, mailing address, Skype address, and contact form on their webite for methods of communication. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Discover, and Diner's Club. They are BBB-accredited listed with a "B" rating.
Frames Direct's entire selection consists of name-brand offerings such as Oakley, Vogue, Guess, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Emporio Armani, Christian Dior, Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Gucci, Ray Ban, D+G, Ted Baker, Prada, and many more. They do not sell frames/lenses in the discount price range (under $40), and should be compared to other designer-brand retailers rather than discount retailers. As such, this review does not focus on price, since Frames Direct competes almost entirely with local retailers, and the price itself tends to vary by brand.
The Frames Direct website is very well polished. It's design is aimed towards those who already know what brand(s) they're looking for – you simply choose a brand-name, and go from there. As such, sorting options aren't as extensive as with other retailers – if you don't have a certain brand in mind, you could be browsing for hours. Naturally, those looking for designer frames tend to have a brand in mind already, so the site should work well for them. It's worth noting they also sell a large variety of contact lenses.
Frame selection is massive – just about every name-brand in existance appears to be available. For someone who's never priced name-brand frames, you're starting at roughly the $150 mark though prices vary widely. A quick list of their "top" brands include Silhouette Rimless, Oakley, Persol, Dolce Gabbana, Vogue, Guess, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Emporio Armani, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Christian Dior, Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Burberry, Prada, D+G, Gucci, Ted Baker, Ray Ban, Gargoyles, Maui Jim, Cdm, Bolle, Serengeti, and Marc Jacobs, although there are many, many more. Many frames come in a number of sizes to fit larger or smaller heads.
Lenses start at $45 for 1.5 index single-vision lenses. Bifocals pull in at $75, and Progressives weigh in at a whopping $239. Higher indexes are offered as well. Transitions-branded lenses are available, as are Polarized lenses. UV adds $15 and AR adds $45 to the bill.
As I said earlier, they don't compete in the discount arena. If you were looking for $20 glasses, this is the last place you'll look. On the other hand, if you're looking for name-brand designer frames for less than your local retailer, Frames Direct is probably the first place you'll look.
Website and Ordering:
As mentioned above, the website is well polished. The biggest tripping point revolves around the frame sizes – you must make use of the frame size mouseovers/guides or you'll probably be lost. To be fair, they've done nearly all they can to make it easy for you to figure out what the numbers mean. That said, borrowing the "printable PDF" idea from 39DollarGlasses might not be too bad an idea for them at some point in the future.
The ordering process itself is quite good. After finding a frame, all the lens options are on a separate page. One thing to note is that they appear to verify prescriptions – you can fax it in, scan/email it in, or give your optometrists contact info. It's more work than through most sites, although it may help to ensure the prescription has been indeed entered correctly if they do verify it. And let's face it – an "oops" on glasses that cost hundreds of dollars is something they probably really want to avoid.
Pricing and Value:
In recent times, they've standardized their lens prices, so it's now possible to include a price chart. A standard frame price will probably never be possible (unless the name-brand frame manufacturers all start colluding), so I'd approximate frames to be in the ballpark of $150 for someone who has a few brands they'd find acceptable but is being price-conscious.
You can find frames for under $100, but you can just as easily find frames for $200&. For anyone who heavily shops name brands, you probably already know what you local store sells them for, so you'll have to go to the Frames Direct site and compare there.
Lens offerings (added to the frame price):
|1.59 index (Polycarbonate)||+$89 (UV included)||+$125 (UV included)||+$289|
|1.67 index||+$119 (UV included)||+$229 (UV included)||+$339|
|1.74 index||+$230 (UV and premium AR included)|
|Transitions (grey/brown)||+$70 (adds free UV)||+$90 (adds free UV)||+$90|
|Polarized (grey/brown)||+$70 (adds free UV)||+$90 (adds free UV)||+$100|
|Anti-reflective (standard)||+$45||+$70 (adds free UV)|
|Anti-reflective (premium)||+$75||+$90 (adds free UV)||included|
Shipping on orders over $99 is free. If you somehow manage to spend less than that, US shipping is $5.95. Shipping to Canada is $22.50. Others vary but tend to be in the $15-20 range (Australia $18.50, UK $16.50).
The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.
Again, Frames Direct is clearly competing with retail stores that sell name-brand frames. Other online discount retailers will likely beat them out in total price for fashion frames, and if you're fortunate you may find a few online that carry the name brand frames you were interested in. However, for those who have a specific frame in mind, Frames Direct is one of the few online retailers who are virtually guaranteed to have it, and likely for much less than your local store.