Cutler and Gross fall 2018

Marchon’s chief executive officer and president Nicola Zotta is thinking outside the box.

Zotta said Marchon’s many new licenses this year have set a track for “solid single-digit” growth in 2018. The company is now interested in adding specialty eyewear brands to its roster, hoping to attract a new wave of consumers who are seeking “authentic” eyewear.

Marchon continues to chart growth as the general eyewear licensing sector faces “consolidation” — partially due to fallout from Kering and LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bringing their respective eyewear manufacturing businesses in-house.

At Vision Expo West, the company will begin selling Cutler and Gross, its latest distribution deal, which was revealed earlier this week. The agreement will have Marchon distribute Cutler and Gross optical and sun styles in the U.S. market. Zotta sees this deal as just the first step in Marchon’s partnership with the U.K.-based luxury eyewear label.

“There are many areas of potential collaboration, not all necessarily resulting in revenue-generating opportunities. We are looking at the opportunity to exchange views and know-how in design, manufacturing and distribution. This is the beginning of a dialogue that may lead to other opportunities, I hope there are new things we are able to share soon,” Zotta, who took the helm of Marchon in 2016, told WWD.

Cutler and Gross was an intriguing opportunity for Marchon due to recent changes in consumer behavior trends, Zotta explained. “There is a growing number of consumers out there who value the expertise and authenticity of a brand that is entirely focused and has mastered one category. This demand is perfectly met by a brand like Cutler and Gross — an authentic luxury brand created by two opticians. This is something that allows us to add one more component to compete in the marketplace and answer consumer demand.”

Marchon is now actively seeking involvement with similar eyewear specialty companies. “This is not just a trend. Consumers are interested in authentic specialty brands and we don’t think this is something that will stop anytime soon; our intention is to strengthen our offering in that space,” Zotta said.

That’s not to say that the company has let up on its focus on its core positioning of brand licenses. Since 2017 the firm has added Longchamp, Draper James, DKNY and Donna Karan New York licenses to its roster and also renewed deals with Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld and Bebe. It is working to expand its Ferragamo men’s offering and recently re-branded Calvin Klein eyewear under Raf Simons’ tutelage. “We continue to have many consumers that see eyewear as a fashion accessory who are looking for an opportunity to enter the fashion universe of a specific brand. We have this consumer covered,” Zotta said.

“The world is a big place. [Kering and LVMH] do an amazing job at developing young talent from scratch, but at the same time, there are a lot of other companies doing a phenomenal job. There are many other opportunities and we are working hard to be considered as the best alternative to these companies to launch an eyewear project together,” Zotta said.

Marchon is expected to make further license and partnership announcements before the year’s end.

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