How The New York Times Actually Made Monocles A Thing

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monocle embedPhoto: Courtesy of Warby Parker.
Remember last month's New York Times trend piece that asserted monocles were a thing? The one that posited its adoption by one Miami rapper and several chefs who "need[ed] help seeing recipes" made Mr. Peanut's eyewear of choice a trending hipster accessory? Oh, how we chortled then — after all, we live in Brooklyn, the belly of the bespoke-bro beast, where men with waxed mustaches and work boots that have ne'er seen the factory floor stride about. And, even on the most pretentiously Gilded Age-worshipping gents, we have never seen a monocle. We were onto the Times, and its latest, reaching attempt to make nothing into a thing. This was goofier than the "hipsters are drinking all the rosé" trend piece of 2006.

But, here's the even funnier part. Much like that rosé we semi-shamefully ordered at the bar in 2006 — just to feel like one of the beautiful people — the NYT's sham trend piece may have actually made monocles a thing. As of 2013, Warby Parker's Colonel Mustard monocle (cute, guys) was one of the brand's poorest sellers. Such a flop, in fact, that one of Warby's founders famously wrote an ode to its utter unpopularity for Inc. But now, the tide may be turning.

In an interview with Data Science Weekly, Warby's Director of Data Science Carl Anderson reports that more people are ordering the Colonel Mustard in their at-home try-on boxes. And, even more surprising, an unusually high rate of people end up buying it. Conversion rates for the monocle were so high that Warby actually had to tweak their product-recommendation algorithm specifically to account for it. Guess once you've seen yourself through the eyes of Colonel Klink, there's no resisting it.

So, let this be a lesson to us all. Let us not mock the Times' next clueless-sounding trend piece — lest that trend piece come true. You win this round, great, soothsaying Grey Lady. (Business Insider)

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