I bought a pair of $700 eyeglasses, but I lost them in a couple of weeks which also took a month to get. No wonder why I got really hyped that I could buy prescription glasses online for only $150. Add in that I get them in a 1/4 of the time, and that they fit my Asian face while also matching my steez.
“Asian fit,” “alternative fit” or whatever the hell you want to call it. If you are Asian, you know the struggle of finding a pair of glasses that will not creep down your face. Especially when you do not have a Ron Jeremy-sized…. nose to keep your glasses in place. If that is you, or even if you never had that issue, this Japanese eyewear company will have eyeglasses for you. Glasses that start at only $60 with prescription lenses and shipping included.
Warby Parker (American) and JINS (Japanese) Are up Against Luxottica (Italian), the Industry Mega Giant
“Luxottica controls 80% of the major brands in the $28 billion global eyeglasses industry.”– Forbes, Meet the Four-Eyed, Eight-Tentacled Monopoly That is Making Your Glasses So Expensive
I have had a lot of experience with Luxottica. The reason for that is this Italian company is massive and they not only own LensCrafters to Sunglass Hut, but they also own their own vision insurance company. To top it all off, they have several licensing agreements with Bulgari, Coach, Burberry, Chanel, Ray-Ban, Versace, and 27 more. That makes them the largest company with a monopoly-like position in the eyewear industry.
In comparison, the challengers, Warby Parker has upwards of 90 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Whereas JINS has 640 retail stores globally in Japan, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Including 6 U.S. stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.
These underdogs may not have a ton of stores, but I am done paying $400-$700 for eyeglasses. I am also betting both companies have product quality close to my Masunaga’s, my current frames that I am happy with minus the price. Although I am going with JINS because they offer 61 Alternative (Asian) fit styles over Warby Parker’s 18 offerings (for men, for women it may be different). Seeing that many offerings, it is good to know JINS caters to a wider range of face types.
Who is JINS Eyewear
A Japanese company founded in July 1988 or 2001 by founder and CEO Hitoshi Tanaka.
Why JINS Eyeglasses Review in Short
Multiple pairs for multiple occasions (explore your personal style, without having to worry about budget).
Prescription glasses can be purchased in-store in 30 minutes. Prices range from $60 to $150 although in some cases upwards of $200. Additional charges are for lens options which range from +$60 to +$180.
JINS in Detail and What I Opted For
- How many frame styles: they tout over 1,800 frame styles to choose from, but it seems like it is far fewer than what you see online. Out of the available options, I opted for two frames. Both are Switch styles, but one is an alternative fit and the other is standard.
- Switch: that is the name of their “plate” system which allows you to add a sunglasses plate to your eyeglasses, and one major reason why I chose JINS.
- Nose bridge: they offer a standard (lower nose pads), alternative fit (higher nose pads), and adjustable (I’ll let you figure this one out).
- Materials: it looks as though they offer 5 types which include airframe, TR90 (thermoplastic), acetate (nylon-based plastic), titanium, and metal. both of the styles I happened to choose are Airframes.
- Airframes: the two frames I chose (134/263) are supposed to be light and durable glasses. They weigh an average of ~20 grams* (equal to a stack of 8 pennies).
- The number of lens types: to not complicate things from the start, I opted for the JINS core lenses which are free of charge. In the future, I may opt for the options below.
- The JINS core lens: high-index lenses 1.60-1.74, aspheric lens for less distortion, UV cut coating (99.9%+), and anti-glare coating for less reflection.
- Special order lenses: 10+ and they range from progressive (+$120), bifocal, tinted (+$100), photochromic (+$180), polarized, JINS screen, JINS heavy (+$60), JINS screen night (+$60), JINS Screen daily use photochromic (+$120), JINS Screen to performance (+$100). Note: many of these special orders take two weeks.
- Replacement lenses: $60 for the base lens and $120 for non-JINS frames.
- The purchasing experience: Ideally, an in-store experience would take advantage of their KANNA lens-edging robot which allows them to produce prescription lenses in 30 minutes.
- I am purchasing online at www.jins.com, and if you want to know how long the process took, read on.
What is a Lens Edger
You will not find this information on JINS, and they will only say they have a robot. What the robot does, well that is a mystery because one top-ranking article touts it cuts out and manufactures frames. Which I highly doubt it does, so I researched what a lens edger does:
“While the edger prepares the lens to fit the frame, the blocker ensures that the lens is edged with the proper optical center and multifocal height positions.”– 2020mag.com “L&T Tips: Edger Basics”
Is JINS an Online Company or a Brick-and-Mortar?
From my purchasing experience, I consider them primarily a brick-and-mortar because the website experience comes up short. That is one reason I highly recommend that you visit one of JINS’s six locations in California if you can, if not, you can go down the same path I did.
BRICK-AND-MORTAR (LOS ANGELES AND SF BAY AREA)
- JINS Hillsdale, San Mateo
- JINS Union Square, San Francisco: this is their first and flagship store which opened in 2015.
- JINS Valley Fair, San Jose
- JINS Del Amo, Torrance
- JINS Fashion Square, Sherman Oaks
- JINS Santa Anita, Arcadia
What Are the JINS Business Hours?
- Brick-and-mortar: typically 7-days a week, 10/11 am to 6/9 pm.
- Online business hours: Monday through Friday, and I have not confirmed their operating hours.
Online Eyeglasses Buying Requirements
- A valid eye prescription: if you are wondering “do you need a prescription to buy glasses online.” It appears as though you do and do not need to regarding JINS policy. One reason for that, it appears you can use an expired prescription on “an emergency basis.”
- PD (pupillary distance): I wish I knew more going in, and I did not read the NYT/Wirecutter article till later. If I had read beforehand, I wish I had asked my eye doctor about my PD. Unfortunately, I went with what JINS had suggested, which was to measure it myself. Well, it turns out via that article experts unanimously advised against it, doh!
My Eye Prescription
Typically, I get my prescription from the place I purchased my eyeglasses from, but this time around I went to a local optician. That non-LensCrafters eye exam was also one of the most pleasantly informative visits I had experienced. If you are wondering, my total out of pocket expense was $116.
|Right/Left Eye||Sphere||Cyl||Axis||Near Add|
|OD (oculus dextrus – R)||-3.00||-0.50||090||+1.50|
|OS (oculus sinister – L)||-3.00||-0.50||080||+1.50|
How Long Does It Take To Get Your JINS Order (Timeline)
Right after getting my prescription, I went to jins.com and placed my order.
I placed my order on Friday, May 14th, at 8:41 PM.
- Fri, May 14, 3:57 PM: I placed my order for the Switch 263 ($150) and Kanto Region Model 003 ($120). The total comes out to $257 with a $20 discount for first-time buyers and I opt for the $7 priority mail (otherwise shipping is free).
- Fri, May 14, 5:27 PM: I change my mind about my order.
- Fri, May 14, 5:52 PM: their customer support rep (Mary Rose Carbonilla) responds. She says that she will have to cancel my order, and I would have to place a new order.
- Fri, May 14, 8:41 PM: I placed my new order for the Switch 134 ($150) and Switch 263 ($150). My total the second time around comes to $287 (includes $7 priority mail).
- Mon, May 17, 10:32 AM: I have to provide my pupillary distance measurement. A printable instructional guide, along with a millimeter ruler is provided to take measurements.
- May 17, 2021, 10:55 AM: I submit my measurement: 65mm – I do not know how reliable of a source since they are a commercial entity, but RX Safety says the “average pupillary distance for an adult is between 54-68mm, with acceptable measurement deviations generally falling in between 48mm and 73mm.“
- May 17, 2021, 11:01 AM: an acknowledgment that my PD measurement has been received.
- Mon, May 17, 11:59 AM: my prescription is reviewed and confirmed that it is valid.
- Mon, May 17, 4:54 PM: I am notified by JINS: Thank you for your recent purchase from JINS. We just wanted to let you know that we are expecting to ship your item by 5/27/21.* Please note that the shipping date may change in case of any potential manufacturing delays. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. You will receive a follow-up email notifying you when your glasses ship out. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Service. Once again, thank you very much for choosing JINS! We look forward to your new glasses soon. Sincerely, The JINS Team.”
“We just wanted to let you know that we are expecting to ship your item by 5/27/21.*”– JINS
- Wed, May 19, 8:00 PM: “We’re happy to tell you that we’ve shipped your order and it should be arriving soon.” I paid the additional $7 for USPS priority, so I am hoping to get my eyeglasses by this Saturday/Monday.
- Fri, May 21, 1:19 AM: USPS expected delivery by Monday, May 24, 2021, by 9:00 PM.
About 6 days to process your order, and I got my JINS prescription eyeglasses in 11 days total (5/14 at 8:41 PM to 5/24 at 6:27 PM).
- Mon, May 24, 6:27 PM: here are a few pictures of my JINS order!
All those memes and videos of packaging/delivery services punting and body slamming boxes is true when your fragile packaging shows up with a crushed corner.
I was wondering how well packaged the glasses would be, and I am glad it was well packaged since this package took a beating.
Not sure if these are for my plates, and I think they are although I doubt I will use it that way. It could also be an alternative to the hard case? Unfortunately, I destroy my glasses, so this flexible case with a black aluminum carabiner will not cut it. What I rely on is a Pelican 1030 from their Micro Case Series. The JINS flexible case fits snugly in the 1030, so that it does not flop about (I had to detach the carabiner).
Right away, the glasses felt lighter than my previous pair which I suppose is a good thing?
The feel of the glasses feel a lot different from my Masunaga’s. I am sure the Masunaga’s are acetate whereas the JINS frames are both denoted as “airframes.” What that means, I have no clue because of the poor marketing. What I can tell you is that the Masunaga’s have a very solid feel to them. The JINS glasses are light with resiliency in the flex of the frame, more so with the clear frames. The black frames hinge ‘creaks’ more, but I hope that tautness contributes to the glasses staying planted on my cabeza/head.
I had always wanted Asian fit glasses, which is why I sought out the Masunaga brand. Although, compared to the JINS alternative fit, it takes fit to a whole new level. Pictured above (the clear frames) are the standard fit, and my alternative fit (black frames) are below. When it comes down to how the two feel, I have no fear of having the alternative fit glasses slip down my face – for two reasons: one; it sits firmly planted on the bridge of my nose. Second; the nosepiece is slightly coarse.
You can never have enough pictures, so I uploaded all product shots up on to Flickr.
My Observations/Feedback Based on My Overall Experience
There are all too many nitpicks with my web experience for JINS to be labeled a dedicated online seller. These issues are not just limited to their website, and they range from their branding to product marketing:
BRANDING (DID JINS MANAGE MY EXPECTATIONS)
- Try finding anything about the company or the origins, you won’t. What they will preach is “Inspire, Innovate, Impact.,” and their “About Us” says absolutely nothing about the company which I find odd. Especially when compared to Warby Parker who has a properly written About Us. The entire section feels personal because the story about their college days is relatable about not being able to afford glasses.
- The only brand expectation they tout is their in-store speed of 30 minutes although the online experience is never touted (maybe to not scare you off if you knew the turnaround times?) So if I am buying online why am I choosing JINS?
- Why choose JINS? If I were to guess, being a culturally Japanese company I would expect their service to be a step-up from most. Except, the Japanese have never excelled at anything online (name one successful online Japanese company?) Since I am buying online, the only characteristically Japanese differentiator I suppose would be the 30-day return, along with a 1-year limited warranty. The only other plus is maybe the inclusion of Zendesk for customer service.
- Their only attempt at product branding is with some Pokémon cross-branding. Unfortunately, the extent of the Pokémon brand experience is with some superficial graphics imprinted on the inside of the frame. I mean, if you are not manufacturing the product, isn’t frame design what you bring to the table? Well, most of these frames are not unique or symbolic of Pokémon. How hard could it have been to tastefully carry over some of the elements of a Poké ball in a circular frame lens?
PRODUCT (FROM DESIGN TO MARKETING)
- They claim 1,800 styles of frames, but their designs are not all too distinctive. I would consider several Rayban’s to be iconic, Warby Parker to be subtlety more distinguishable, and many Chinese brands to be more design-forward. Whereas JINS designs seem all too similar to one another which also feels all too conservative.
- It appears as though all of their products are made in China, but I am hoping that the product quality is on par with my Masunaga frames (I love my Masunaga’s which are made in Fukui, Japan).
- How about less styles of frames and more dedicated product, such as having more Switch style frames with plates that actually match the frames you purchase (clear, grey, brown, etc.). Currently, only a few offer matching plates which makes it feel gimmicky because of a lack of product range (only black for most).
- Want to know more about KANNA? This is a “lens-edging robot,” but there is absolutely no information about it. If you want to know why Japanese companies fail in the U.S.? This is a prime example of their inability to capitalize on a supposed asset/differentiator.
- Want to find out more information? Unfortunately, their site has a broken link to their corporate information which makes me wonder about the overall competency of this organization.
- Annoying, text message marketing, which JINS does not utilize appropriately. I say that because while researching the article, I had to look up product information. Since I did not purchase the product, I got text messages saying “JINS: Hi we noticed you eyeing these frame MRF-18S-019 …it’s selling fast, tap to get it before it’s gone.” Not only do these messages annoy me, but they think you are dumb enough to believe their sense of urgency.”
- Overall, Warby Parker does a better job at communicating all aspects of their product. Sounds simple or obvious, but WP explains their product features. Details about their low-bridge fit glasses to the hand-polished cellulose acetate and Akulon-coated screws used for durability.
- With 3 filters (alternative fit, men, oval-shaped face), only 13 styles. And 2 filters (men and oval-shaped face), only 65 styles.
- No ability to click-on imagery for a close-up look – there are product close-ups, but the overall product image size is a tiny 880x440px (Instagram is 1080x1080px).
- No ability to look at eyeglass silhouette/shape in proportion to scale or side-by-side. So if you want to know the scale of one product to another, you have to know how “55, 17-145, 40 mm” relates to your face. JINS needs an app to map your face to give semi-accurate scale/size/proportions/frame suggestions of their glasses in relation to your face.
- What a POOR frame color UI/user interface that borders on moronic (it’s almost identical to the Warby Parker site). The site uses circular icons to denote their available colors, but they DO NOT display them all. Instead, they only display the in-stock colors, so if you remember seeing a black frame on a previous visit, it might not show up on a second visit because of their varying inventory. The simple fix would be to denote “sorry, out of stock” with an “x” through it. So you may like a frame, but you will never know all your color options unless they are all in stock at the time of your purchase, which results in a poor user/customer experience. Yea, this is just dumb.
- You can purchase online 24/7/365, but their business hours are only Monday-Friday.
- The plus side of their platform is being able to virtually try on glasses (in comparison, WP allows you to try 5 frames in-home for free). Except, not all of the styles of frames allow you to try on, but the vast majority do. Also, it has its issues (or I should say I had my issues utilizing the software). So, you are better off going into a store because I do not see any benefits of shopping online unless you do not have a store nearby, like in my case.
- On the plus side, there was a chat feature, but it disappeared and I have no idea why. What I do have now is the Zendesk “contact us” portal which can result in responses of an hour to several hours. So far, all of the responses have addressed each and every question asked. Questions such as “why am I not seeing a certain frame color” to “what are your business hours (because your online order is processed only during business hours).”
Do I Recommend JINS?
Why “yes” and “no.” Yes, when you could get 30% off because ALL I got was $20 off my first order. So consider yourself lucky if you landed on this article, and you are going to use this link. I also say “no” because Warby Parker (WP) is also an option. As a company, WP simply puts more effort into the American market. So if Alternative Fit is not important to you, I suggest you check out their designs (I like a lot of their subtle design cues, like a colored ring around the lens).
- I highly recommend this read by the UCLA Anderson school. Warby Parker vs Luxottica: Supply Chain Disintermediation in the Eyewear Industry
- Nancy Redd threw down with this article, so I have to promote it although the NY/Wirecutter does not need me: The Best Places to Buy Glasses Online.
- If you feel like paying $30 a month for the Japan Times, you can read the article on Hitoshi Tanaka /JINS.