Flatlays of various frame style and colours

How Glasses Direct has expanded its product range in 20 years

19 Jun 2024

Entrepreneur Jamie Murray Wells founded Glasses Direct in 2004. To begin with, the website provided a very basic range of fully-rimmed, semi-rimless, rimless and flexible frames with some acetate designs but mostly metal frames. The website has since expanded its product range to include 1,000s of different frames. Discover how it evolved as we take a look back at some of the biggest milestones over the last 20 years.


Close-up shot of a pair of DKNY rectangular tortoiseshell frames laid on thier front with the arms and DKNY logo showing

In 2006, Glasses Direct introduced a designer glasses category to the website, which included top brands of the time, such as DKNY and Storm.


Flatlays of two pairs of virant acetate frames, one blue and one red placed on multicoloured paper of orange, blue, green, pink and yellow in a fan style

Glasses Direct offered a range of colourful acetate frames in 2007. They were designed for customers wanting something a little more vibrant and fun. For every frame sold, Glasses Direct donated £1 to ORBIS, an eyesight charity that provides communities across the globe access to quality eye care.


Caterpillar logo placed on left corner of an older male with a beard wearing Caterpillar frames

In 2008, lightweight and sturdy titanium frames became available. Following which, the product range continued to expand with brands like CAT, Speedo and Kangol.

Glasses Direct introduced more filters on site and glasses were organised into clearer collections and categories such as reading, colourful, classic, fashion and retro.

By the end of 2008, Glasses Direct launched the free Home Trial on site. Previously, if customers wanted to try on frames at home, they had to pay a small fee. The introduction of this new service meant they could try on 4 frames at home and get a feel for the design and fit, whilst still having enough time to send them back without any additional charges.


Flatlays of two Tommy Hilfiger frames, one black and one brown

In 2010, Glasses Direct launched its popular 2-for-1 offer which remains a real hit to this day. This meant that customers could enjoy value for money by getting a second pair free with any frame costing £49 or more. So long as the second frame was up to the same value as the first and within the Glasses Direct own-brand range. Later that year, Glasses Direct also released the 2-for-1 Designer range, allowing customers to get a second pair of designers free when purchasing a £79+ frame within a collection of over 50 brands.

At this time, the brand range had also significantly expanded with the inclusion of iconic designer names like Tommy Hilfiger and Emporio Armani.


London Retro logo place on a photo of a young male and female wearing glasses from the London Retro collection

Glasses Direct launched its first exclusive London Retro range in 2011. This collection still exists today and includes a variety of vintage-style eyewear with London street-style influences.


Scout logo place on a photo of five young people, smiling and laughing while wearing frames from the Scout collection

In 2012, Glasses Direct released their first eco-friendly brand Element. This not only expanded the range but also enabled customers to make a sustainable choice. Made from recycled metal and acetate, the collection included 10 fashionable designs in a range of trendy shapes.

The exclusive Scout collection also launched this year. Inspired by the latest trends, the eyewear range included a distinctive selection of silhouettes in bold colours and prints. Scout is still consistently popular and is an eye-catching collection, designed to appeal to modern trendsetters.


Pair of tortoiseshell Ray-Ban frames facing to the right

Glasses Direct launched its Boutique range at the end of 2014, which was renamed to Premium Designer in 2022. This included iconic brands like Ray-Ban®Dolce & Gabbana and Oakley. It gave customers access to a whole new range of designer eyewear at an affordable price.

The stylishly feminine Aspire and trendy masculine range Harrington were also introduced as affordable designer collections, exclusive to Glasses Direct. Both still exist today and include a variety of functional and fashionable shapes and designs. They add a stylish edge to any wardrobe.


Two voucher graphics of a £10 Amazon voucher and £35 Glasses Direct voucher

In 2015, Glasses Direct introduced the Refer a Friend scheme to the website. This encouraged customers to share their experience with their friends whilst being able to enjoy a reward as a result. The scheme continues to be successful with over 350,000 customer recommendations to date.

The same year, jewellery designer Nicholas King collaborated with London Retro to produce an exclusive limited collection in aid of the charity Orbis. Each frame mirrored his exquisite jewellery collections.


Close-up of a pair of Finelight frames coming from the bottom of the shot

The rimless Finelight frames were introduced to the site in 2016.

Made from hypoallergenic titanium, rimless glasses and sunglasses offer minimal style with a sophisticated finish. They are ideal for people who prefer not to wear bulky frames as they are lightweight and also sturdy and reliable.


Older male with a moustache wearing a pair of glasses with the Vision for Life Essilor logo

At the end of 2017, Glasses Direct became part of Vision For Life™’s Buy One, Give One scheme.

This programme still applies today. For every order placed, Glasses Direct makes a $1 donation to Vision For Life™. This is in line with Glasses Direct’s mission to improve lives by improving sight. It gives customers an opportunity to make a difference to those in need when purchasing new eyewear.


Two young students, one male and one female wearing frames looking at one another amiling with the UNIDAYs logo added to the image

In 2019, in collaboration with UNiDAYS, the Glasses Direct student discount was first introduced on site. This particular offer allowed Glasses Direct to expand its customer range and appeal to younger people on a budget.

The discount is still popular today. University students can benefit from a 50% discount on 2-4-1 frames.


Four pairs of frames from our Home Trial, two pairs resting on the Home Trial box and two pairs outside the box to the right

At the end of 2020, Glasses Direct joins forces with British street dancer and radio presenter Perri Kiely. He is announced as the brand ambassador.

The free Home Trial packs were also introduced in 2020 as an alternative to the standard Home Trial. This was a great solution for customers struggling to decide on which 4 frames to try for their Home Trial. The Home Trial packs are still very popular and include a selection of popular pre-selected frames categorised by theme. Customers can simply pick which pack best suits their style without having to scroll through the website for frames to try on at home. We currently have a wide variety of Home Trial packs for customers to choose from.


Young male wearing round glasses, holding the side of the frame with their hand, with the Perri Kiely X London Retro logo

The Perri Kiely x London Retro was launched on site for the first time in 2022. Every name, shape and colour within this range was selected by brand ambassador Perri Kiely.

These vibrant and distinctive frames continue to be top-sellers and are exclusive to Glasses Direct. They reflect Perri Kiely’s fun and bubbly personality.

2022 was also the first year of the Pride Collection in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and Pride Month. A new range of these limited-edition frames were also launched this year and they all come in a vibrant rainbow aesthetic. For each one sold, £2 is donated to charity.

Glasses Direct’s sustainable Arden range was another collection introduced in 2022. Made from natural and recyclable materials, these fashionable frames continue to be a success. They give customers the opportunity to make a conscious choice without having to compromise on style.


Two pair of frames on resting a clear block and one just below with a pink RIbbon position next to the frames all on a light pink background

At the beginning of 2023, our Pink Ribbon frames became available on site. Designed to raise awareness of breast cancer, these frames come in a variety of fashionable shapes and designs. The iconic pink ribbon logo features on each one and for every sale, we donate £2 to the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Glasses Direct has raised more than £7,000 so far through the sale of these frames.

Last year, we also launched the luxury Tom Ford frames on site. Each fashionable design is made to the highest standard and crafted in Italy. Tom Ford’s extensive career in fashion influences every single distinctive design within the collection.


Young couple, one male and one female wearing frames from the Field of Barley collection

This year, Glasses Direct continues to add fresh new styles to its existing ranges whilst expanding for the future.

Last month, we launched our exciting new Fields of Barley hue. Created exclusively for Glasses Direct, we selected some of our top-selling frames which now come in this vibrant colourway. Fields of Barley is a stunning Havana with a mix of brown and blue with shiny bronze flecks.

We have plenty of exciting plans for the rest of 2024, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for what’s yet to come!