MILAN — Balenciaga is entering the Kering Eyewear portfolio. The first collection of Balenciaga sunglasses and prescription frames to be produced and distributed by Kering Eyewear will bow for spring 2019 and will be available from January 2019. The French brand’s eyewear was previously produced under license by Marcolin.Thanking Marcolin for its contribution over the past years, Cédric Charbit, chief executive officer of Balenciaga, said the company “will rely on [Kering Eyewear’s] exclusive expertise to fully exploit and reach Balenciaga’s potential in the category.”“We are extremely proud of our new partnership with Balenciaga, one of the most authentic and innovative brands in the fashion industry and the last Kering brand with an eyewear presence, which was not yet managed by Kering Eyewear,” said Roberto Vedovotto, Kering Eyewear’s president and ceo. “I am sure that Balenciaga, particularly considering the brand’s strong creativity, will add substantial value to Kering Eyewear’s already outstanding portfolio of luxury brands.”Kering Eyewear today produces collections for 15 brands including: Gucci, Cartier, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Brioni, Altuzarra, Alaïa, Boucheron, Pomellato, Puma, McQ, Christopher Kane and Tomas Maier.Kering initiated a string of changes in the eyewear sector when it decided to set up a new dedicated entity in 2014 and bring eyewear production in-house. Other major shakeups in the category followed, including the merger between Luxottica Group and Essilor that will create a $16 billion giant and which is expected to be finalized soon, and the joint venture Thélios between LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Marcolin, which was revealed last year with the goal of “becoming the preferred partner” of the French group in the eyewear business. The new Thélios manufacturing plant in Longarone, Italy, is to be unveiled today.Kering took control of Balenciaga in 2001. Demna Gvasalia joined the brand in October 2015 as artistic director.
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