“Have You Heard of…”

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Explaining what I do for a living has always been a little painful. Some people don’t understand the difference between magazine editorial and magazine advertising. Some don’t understand the concept of a B-to-B publication, as though if they can’t find it at the checkout counter of a store it’s not a real magazine.

And some just don’t understand how there can be enough eyewear news to necessitate an entire magazine.

Lately, though the conversation has changed. On dates or at parties, when I tell people what I do, they don’t just stare at me blankly. Invariably, they ask me some variation of one question—whether they wear glasses or not—“Oh! Have you heard of Warby Parker?”

Regardless of your personal opinion about the brand, it’s become clear that they have changed the dialogue about eyewear. Anecdotally, it has made explaining what I do much easier and anything that raises eyewear’s awareness can’t be all bad. That whole “a high tide raises all ships” mentality.

It has presented us, as an industry, a real opportunity to actively join the discussion. The first few times I got the question, I was too taken aback to adequately discuss how the industry, and its variety of product and price points, is much more complicated than the marketing juggernaut Warby Parker has led them to believe. Coming on the heels of that 60 Minutes piece, I found myself ill-equipped when having to justify why some eyewear costs what it does.

In 2014, Vision Monday plans to explore this topic, to give others, like me, who are finding the need to defend eyewear, some tools to win the argument. Many of you are already experts and I welcome your instruction. This holiday season, my plan is to adroitly address the “have you heard of…” question, one cocktail party at a time. ■

dcarroll@jobson.com