NEW YORK — In an effort to boost its fashion cred and get into the luxury business, Oakley Inc. has acquired Oliver Peoples Inc., the Los Angeles luxury eyewear brand.
"The Oakley brand has made great strides over the past few years from just being a sport look to being a lifestyle brand [marrying] technology with fit and design," said Scott Olivet, chief executive officer of Oakley. "As we were thinking of multibranding to have different consumers in different markets, we wanted our first acquisition of a brand to have a fashion perspective. Oliver Peoples was the number-one choice because we have the same values and the same point of view. It is the perfect match."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Oakley, which produces performance and lifestyle apparel, accessories, eyewear, footwear, watches and various electronics, is breaking the "athletic" mold for which it is known without abandoning its roots. The firm held its second-ever runway show on Saturday at Bryant Park and opened a boutique in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood last year. The company's net sales last year amounted to $638.7 million and generated a net income of $52.6 million.
Oliver Peoples is an anomaly in the eyewear industry, where licenses, mass distribution and logos rule. Peoples focuses on discreet luxury and elegance, without any logos and limited distribution in its own boutiques and select department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Fred Segal. Peoples also holds the license for Paul Smith Eyewear and Mosely Tribes, a midprice brand of sport sunglasses launched last year.
According to Larry Leight, ceo and chief design officer of Peoples, over the years he had many offers for the company.
"It's a shock to most people in the industry," said Leight. "We're a family business and we have amazing growth. We've expanded our sunglass division. We've done it in a big enough way to be the number-one [sunglass vendor] in Neiman Marcus, Saks in New York and Fred Segal."
Leight's first orders of business are to grow the public relations department and improve the firm's Web site. Though there are no plans on tap, the firm may increase the number of company boutiques. There are currently five throughout New York, California and Tokyo.There are no plans to grow the brand through advertising or opening up distribution.
"We consider ourselves to be the Manolo Blahnik of eyewear," said Leight. "People who wear our glasses are our advertising."
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