Interviews

Our Talk with Brian Magida from Warby Parker

By Juliana McLeod
Photos: warbyparker.com

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The Fashion Society recently had the splendid opportunity to speak with Brian Magida, the online media manager for Warby Parker. As some of you may know, Warby Parker is a retail brand that thrives on not overcharging customers and providing people with cute eyewear. The brand, which is named after two characters from author Jack Kerouac’s early writings, is not only concerned about the fashion of eyeglasses, but the health of customers’ eye sights.

Started by four close friends, the company has expanded from an online business to a brand with fourteen stores across the nation. (There’s even one on Newbury Street!) Lucky for us, we got to learn about the all-so-important influence online media has not just in the fashion world, but for any business.

Fashion Society: So, tell us about your job at Warby Parker as an online media manager.
Brian Magida: I basically handle a lot of our digital marketing, sort of like paid marketing. Whether it be like managing or campaigns, it’s a lot of our organic type of marketing. My work is similar to PR, it’s focusing less on what a larger publication would focus on and instead focuses on creating organic relationships with a variety of different types of bloggers.

FS: What do you mean by creating organic relationships?
BM: The way I like to describe it is, with blogging now, it’s becoming a larger business. There are folks that have to pay for their blog and work to build strong relationships with bloggers and blog communities. It’s literally becoming friendly with different types of people and getting to know products. You’re extending from online to offline, from offices to stores; I organize that.

FS: How important is online media for fashion companies?
BM: I would say it’s very important. As you know, Warby Parker started off as an online company only, with only online retail stores. So how do you get the word out? We needed a PR front. When we launched, we were in GQ but that wears off, so we created organic relationships. We started emailing every blogger that wrote about us and I developed a laundry list of advocates of our brand by thanking them and inviting them to our first office. I gave them my cell phone number and said if you have questions feel free to reach out to me.

FS: Which media sources have been the most beneficial to the company?
BM: Well, a cool thing is that, as a brand, we’re transcendent. So there’s often opportunities for us to meet people involved in interesting types of marketing. For example, one of our corner stands is to introduce our brand through credible sources, which includes GQ, but also includes people with blogs and our readership base. Even if you have a small blog you’re still influential. And have you ever listened to a podcast? Podcasts are a way for credible sources to talk about your brand, so we do a lot of credible marketing through podcasts.

FS: Do you have any advice for people interested in the fashion industry?
BM: To be honest, I used to work in finance, I don’t have a traditional fashion background. I’m the guy that wears a t-shirt and jeans to the office every day. I don’t have advice specifically for fashion, but I would say if you’re looking into online marketing, after having a math background or analytical background, a lot of people think of the soft side of marketing with creativity and partnerships. But the online world is very measurable; whatever you do you can track its every performance. You can say what is profitable or negative, and if it’s negative, figure out why it is. So I would almost say you want to do online marketing, even in fashion, you want to be strong analytically, whether it’s paid or not paid.

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