NEW YORK — Marchon Eyewear Inc. has begun to focus its business on international shores.

In a market dominated by European eyewear companies, Marchon has concentrated its $400 million business on American brands like Calvin Klein, Nike, Coach, Nautica and Disney. But with a few strategic licensing changes, the company is gearing up to expand its reputation in the European and Asian markets.

In June, Marchon acquired the global rights to Fendi, which it had distributed in the U.S. and Canada since 1991. In addition, Coach has begun a push into Japan and Asia. Allure Eyewear, a division of Marchon, has assumed the Oscar de la Renta license, which will bring the eyewear firm into Latin America. And this month, Marchon has acquired the Michael Kors and Michael Michael Kors eyewear collections and will roll those out internationally beginning in 2005.

“When we got involved with [Michael Kors], we were viewing it more as an American play to replace our Donna Karan and DKNY business, which it’s perfect for,” Marchon chief executive officer Al Berg said regarding the firm’s loss of the Karan license three months ago. “But to our pleasant surprise, there is a very good following for the Michael Kors collection outside the U.S.”

Berg hopes to see 20 percent growth for the company next year as a result of the distribution and brand changes.

Part of that is expected to stem from the Kors license, which is effective in January (the Michael Kors collection is handled by Charmant Inc. until then).

“Marchon is really capable,” Kors said. “For a designer to have that possibility that anything is possible, in terms of what materials we can work with or how things are executed, is wonderful.”

And it’s clear the designer’s head is spinning with ideas. What’s unclear is whether he’s turning to Us Weekly or People for inspiration.

“It’s funny, so much of what I love is based on paparazzi images. They might be real people, they might be celebrities. So many of the images that provoke me and turn me on are of men and women wearing sunglasses,” he said. “Whether it’s Steve McQueen or Jackie Kennedy or whether it’s the Olsens today or Brad [Pitt] and Jennifer [Aniston], sunglasses are such a huge part of your personal statement.”

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