Warby Parker is a great example of a brand created from an invented character name, similar to Pink Floyd and Humphry Slocombe. With this invented construction the brand perfectly evokes the milieu of 1920s-1950s history, literature and music, with many eyewear products named after historical and cultural figures: Crane, Chandler, Duke, Winston, Fillmore, Roosevelt, Beckett, Miles, Crosby, etc. But the extra special vibe that the name “Warby Parker” exudes is that of the incognito comic book superhero who spends half of his or her time as an awkward, nerdy dude or gal just trying to blend in with the crowd, though we readers or viewers know their true, powerful identity — think Peter Parker (Spiderman), Clark Kent (Superman), and non-superhero supporting characters like Snapper Carr (Justice League television news reporter) or Iron Man Tony Stark’s amanuensis, the brilliantly named Pepper Potts. And speaking of smart and sassy women, many were portrayed in such period films as His Girl Friday (Rosalind Russell as the feisty Hildy Johnson), Philadelphia Story (Katherine Hepburn as the regal and queenly Tracy Lord) or Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (the incomparable Jean Arthur’s Babe Bennett opposite Gary Cooper’s Longfellow Deeds), and are vitally important to the brand narrative of the unisex-named Warby Parker, making the name equally powerful for selling women’s eyeglasses as men’s.
On its website, the company directly answers the question, Why did we name our company Warby Parker?:
We’ve always been inspired by the master wordsmith and pop culture icon, Mr. Jack Kerouac. Two of his earliest characters, recently uncovered in his personal journals, bore the names Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper. We took the best from each and made it our name.
They did a great job. And of course Kerouac himself was a product of the generation that the name Warby Parker alludes and pays homage to, extending the brand’s metaphor range into the Beat era as well (think Allen Ginsberg with his iconic black-rimmed glasses, for example), perfect for a brand catering to today’s prep school iconoclasts and creative class hipsters. Somewhere out there in the cultural exosphere, Clark Kent is thinking, Peter Parker is slinking, Sam Spade is drinking and Pepper Potts is winking.