Converse All Stars

Converse has signed a long-term eyewear licensing deal with Marchon, encompassing both optical and sun styles.

The two entities unveil the beginning of their collaboration today, with product slated to hit stores in January. Optical styles will range in price from $95 to $160 and sunwear will run from $79 to $129. Product photos are not yet available, but Marchon said it focused on Converse’s signature clean lines and iconography when designing the collection.

Though Converse has not previously had a marked presence in the eyewear market, it has put out product through a long-term license with De Rigo, which acquired the rights to produce Converse eyewear when the company purchased the California manufacturer Rem in 2016.

Marchon president Nicola Zotta said that Converse’s switch to Marchon is “part of our larger relationship with Nike,” which owns the Converse brand. Marchon has held an eyewear license with Nike since 1999.

“We’ve been working on this launch for the last year and decided to postpone communication of the agreement until closer to launch. It’s a very large collection, about 60 styles, so it’s a big investment — a global launch. We are going to focus on Europe and North America at the beginning and during the course of 2021 will develop our Asian fit so our colleagues in that market can leverage it as well,” said Zotta.

The executive said that he is optimistic about the new license’s performance, given Converse’s resonance worldwide. “It’s one of the most well-known brands worldwide and enjoys enormous awareness and popularity. It’s an iconic product known by everyone. When you think what’s going on, you had trends around ath-leisure even before the pandemic so Converse resonates with the times we are in,” said Zotta.

Though he declined to provide details about the deal, he said that it is a “long-term agreement as well as with the Nike Group — it’s a multi-year agreement.”

Speaking more broadly about the eyewear market’s current state, Zotta said, “We are definitely optimistic, we feel that the worst is behind us — as everyone, we had a difficult second quarter. We think the optical industry has proven extremely resilient.”

The executive has observed, “pent-up demand in most Western economies, the reason for that is there is a true need for prescription eyewear. A lot of people are working from home and not necessarily using the perfect screen and that has increased attention to vision.” The industry, he feels, has also deeply invested in safety precautions that make consumers feel comfortable when shopping for eyewear.

Marchon has seen promising rebounds in North America, Europe, China and Australia. Markets that have been slower to recover include India, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Asia, Zotta said, “is the area most exposed to tourism and travel retail is an important component of our business, so that channel has been heavily impacted.”

While optical is bouncing back, sunglasses saw soft engagement during its peak season this summer. “The channels where sunglasses are very successful — department stores, travel retail — those channels experienced a more subdued rebound. We are seeing sustained growth on e-commerce,” Zotta said.

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