By  on May 24, 2007

Solstice is spinning off a new retail concept dedicated to selling slightly lower-priced brand-name eyewear called Sunsights by Solstice.

"There's a customer out there that wants fashion, but doesn't want to pay $300," said Ed Jankowski, chief operating officer of Solstice Marketing Concepts, the luxury eyewear retailer and subsidiary of eyewear firm Safilo Group.

The first of the Sunsights stores is to open Friday at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. The 800-square-foot space features open-air displays with glasses from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, A|X Armani Exchange, Diesel, Lacoste, Coach and Michael Michael Kors, among others, all of which retail for $150 on average. The average sale at Solstice, which offers brands such as Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Dior, is $215.

"We always knew that, with the Solstice concept, we'd not be able to open more than 150 locations in the U.S.," Jankowski said. "Sunsights will allow us to roll out more stores in secondary markets."

Jankowski said Sunsights eventually could be a 250-store chain. There are plans to open 40 units a year of Solstice and Sunsights stores. Ten Sunsights units are planned to open this year in locations such as Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, N.Y.; Columbiana Mall in Columbia, S.C.; Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, Conn., and Cool Springs Galleria in Cool Springs, Tenn.

Solstice will have 95 stores by the end of this week.

There are plans to open 20 Sunsights and 20 Solstices next year. Sunsights also will have units in airports, a new area for the firm. On Friday, a store will open at Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Eyewear firms have been touting deluxe and limited edition eyewear, with luxe details such as diamonds and 18-karat gold temples. At the same time, the market for contemporary and bridge eyewear is growing. Safilo introduced Marc by Marc Jacobs and A|X brands last year, while Marchon, which produces Michael Michael Kors and O by Oscar de la Renta, launched Calvin Klein white label last year. Even contemporary sportswear brand Theory has gotten in on the game, inking a license with French eyewear manufacturer L'Amy slated to launch next year.

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