Archibald London Expands Beyond High End Eyeglasses

I have been watching with interest the evolution of Archibald London. Launched as a better quality version of Warby Parker, Archibald took note of its success in cutting the fat middle out of high priced products. Without sacrificing quality and by searching for artisans around the globe, Archibald has moved into men’s shoes with confidence.

Archibald successfully blends vintage craftsmanship with a modern eye for design. I have been road testing a pair of gorgeous Brogue Oxford shoes. The supple leather uppers are Italian calfskin. The fine finish evince a meticulous attention to detail. The handcrafted design features “Goodyear a mano,” a traditional but now rarely deployed construction that maximizes comfort and longevity allowing for up to 12 re-soles, according to Archibald.

The artisans found by Archibald are in Modena, the Italian city also the home for balsamic vinegar and Luciano Pavarotti.

When I spoke to Rohan Dhir, the founder of Archibald, he described his company’s mission to find the consumer who has an eye for design and quality, and a willingness to pay the right price for the product. He also went into detail about how his company can deliver “a $1400 shoe for $458 without compromise.”

Archibald has just launched its line of men’s shoes. In addition to the Brogue Oxfords, also on offer are Cap Toe Oxford and Double Monkstrap designs.

Archibald’s first products were eyeglasses. By finding the right craftsman to deliver top quality optics, Archibald is able to offer eyeglasses worth $875 for $225.

Overcoming consumer skepticism is an obvious challenge, but Dhir is confident that after the first purchase, Archibald has a customer for life. Leveraging its success in optics, Archibald added a reglazing service for folks wedded to their frames.

Dhir and his colleagues then circled the globe, looking for the craftsmen that shared the vision. Archibald has been steadily adding fine quality products such as cashmere (stoles and scarves), leather (carrying cases and bags) and denim. Archibald’s global footprint of craftsmen include Florence (leather goods), Ubrique Spain (leather goods), Moray Scotland (wovens mill), Hawick Scotland (knitwear mill) and Sabae Japan (eyeglass frames).

Archibald is chipping away at the near-blind belief that paying top dollar is the only way to deliver top quality craftsmanship.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.