MILAN — In a bold move that marks a new business venture, Thom Browne is taking its eyewear business in-house starting July 1.
The business will be directly managed by a new team of about 10 people being established in the Swiss town of Stabio, who will oversee the supply chain.
“We see a great long-term opportunity in the eyewear category,” said Rodrigo Bazan, Thom Browne’s chief executive officer, “by continuing to focus on unique designs and outstanding quality whilst at the same time expanding the product range and keeping our selective positioning.”
The American designer has often shown eyewear designs on the runway.
Eyewear was the only license for the company, signed with Dita Eyewear Inc., as fragrances are also produced internally and exclusively available at Thom Browne stores. In the past, childrenswear was also licensed, but the company internalized that division, too.
“The eyewear industry has evolved with most of the big groups creating ad hoc divisions for this category,” Bazan said. “We believe that with a modern view on product, wholesale and direct-to-consumer distribution as well as marketing we will have the best shot at consolidating and growing a successful, integrated multimillion-dollar business.”
Bazan pointed to a previous “successful licensing period,” but the new division will now focus on design, development, sales and marketing.
The brand relies on around 1,100 select distributors and opticians around the world to carry its eyewear and Bazan said this network will be largely kept.
“We want to consolidate and slightly expand our solid distribution by cementing the relationship with our strongest and most committed partners, as well as looking at potential additions of a few high quality, motivated specialty stores,” the executive said.
The new organization will also focus on Thom Browne’s direct-to-consumer distribution, which has been growing steadily. This includes 91 brick-and-mortar stores and an e-business through thombrowne.com and through platforms such as Farfetch, for the past five years, and Tmall, since last October.
The year has started off well for the brand, which in the first three months ended March 31 reported sales of 98.1 million euros, a 22.3 percent gain compared with the same period last year.
The eyewear industry has seen major changes over the past few years, including the Luxottica merger with Essilor, Kering establishing its own eyewear division and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton setting up Thélios to better control production, distribution, merchandising and marketing of the category.