By  on December 11, 2009

MILAN — Tommy Hilfiger has signed a licensing agreement for eyewear with Safilo Group.

The agreement for the design, development and distribution of Hilfiger eyewear is valid through 2015. It replaces Hilfiger’s previous license with Viva International, which had expired.

The sunglasses will be carried in global Hilfiger outposts, optical shops, department stores and multibrand venues starting in fall. Prescription frames initially will be sold in optical stores across Europe beginning next fall and will hit the U.S in spring 2011.

“Safilo’s ample portfolio, global presence and capillary distributive network, plus top quality and style are characteristics that fully complement the positioning of our brand, which is both aspirational and accessible,” said Fred Gehring, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger Group.

Pricing, design details and sales forecasts were unavailable.

Earlier this month, Safilo escaped bankruptcy when Hal Holding NV accepted 50.99 percent of the troubled Italian eyewear maker’s tendered notes. The threshold had previously been set at 60 percent. The new scenario allows for the restructuring of Safilo to proceed. At end of September, Safilo’s net debt totalled 586.3 million euros, or $863 million.

On Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Safilo’s corporate family rating to “Caa2” from “Caa3” and placed all ratings under review for possible upgrade. The ratings agency also upgraded the probability of default rating to “Caa3” from “Ca.” Moody’s said the moves reflect the progress made by the company in restructuring its capital structure, but added the Hal transaction “is still subject to a degree of execution risk.”

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