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Tory Burch Glams It Up With Eyewear

Tory Burch has signed a deal with Luxottica to create eyewear, inspired by iconic film stars such as James Dean and Faye Dunaway.

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Tory Burch is launching sunglasses under her five-year-old signature brand, and she understands a great pair of shades can make the glamour quotient soar.

This story first appeared in the June 15, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Burch is often photographed wearing sunglasses, but the downside to having fabulous glasses is not having them anymore. “I lose sunglasses all the time and it’s very frustrating,” she said.

Tory Burch Eyewear, which launches in November, is priced from $135 to $195 at retail, in sync with the sportswear brand’s roots in accessibly priced fashion and accessories. Typically, luxury sunglasses range from $230 and up for brands such as Prada and Bulgari. Burch joins contemporary labels such as Diane von Furstenberg and Marc by Marc Jacobs that have expanded into eyewear.

The sunglasses are produced by Luxottica Group SpA, which holds a six-year license for the design, manufacture and global distribution of sunglasses and prescription frames. Ophthalmic frames will debut early next year.

“I spent a lot of time developing the lenses and frames,” Burch said. “We’re trying to push things to a different level.”

Inspired by icons such as James Dean, Peter Fonda and Faye Dunaway, as well as her parents’ trips to Greece, Istanbul and Morocco in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, Burch’s elegant and subtle frames run the gamut. There are modified plastic cat eye frames done in navy with a discreet gold logo at the temples, a shield frame with delicately studded leather temples and a collapsible frame that can fold neatly into an clutch.

Burch has also incorporated her iconic prints onto the lenses of a mirrored aviator model. One frame has an ombré effect, with colors graduating from transparent blue to green. Key colors in the collection, in addition to black and tortoise, are navy and olive green.

“It was a collaboration that was very organic,” Burch said of the firm’s first foray into licensing.

Tory Burch footwear is a result of a production partnership with the Camuto Group. Handbags and costume jewelry are produced in-house.

“Although these are difficult economic times, we continue to invest in areas in which we believe there is a void within the market,” said Pierre Fay, executive vice president of wholesale for Luxottica North America, which also makes Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and Dolce & Gabbana frames. “As today’s consumer still has a strong desire for luxury and name brands, we feel it’s more important than ever to offer the widest range of the best product and price ranges to our customers.

Fay declined to project sales for the line.

“It’s building out our lifestyle assortment,” said Brigitte Kleine, president of Tory Burch of launching eyewear.
Kleine said the company is looking to expand into other categories through licenses, including fragrance, watches and costume jewelry, of which it produces a small amount in-house.

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