The brand has signed a 10-year licensing agreement with the Italian manufacturer, which will design, produce and distribute Ports 1961 sunglasses and frames.
The first designs will be unveiled in January 2021 and the distribution of the eyewear collection will be limited to Mainland China.
“China is a key strategic market in our development plans, and we know how important it is for eyewear brands to be locally relevant to their target groups, especially in China, which is very specific, not only in terms of fitting but also with distinct tastes and local consumer trends,” said Safilo Group chief executive officer Angelo Trocchia. “With the addition of such an important brand for the Mainland China market, we will be able to further expand our presence in the country by adding a high-potential and very promising business.”
Founded in 1961 by Canadian entrepreneur Luke Tanabe, Ports 1961 was originally established as a travel-inspired brand and It later expanded into a luxury women’s wear label. The brand has 550 points of sale. In addition to the flagship at 251 Bis Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, others are at 120 Canton Road in Hong Kong, and 1576 West Nanjing Road in Shanghai.
Last August, Ports 1961 tapped a new creative team, including stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron, who are responsible for the fashion design and visual identity, respectively. Previously, Ports was designed by Nataša Čagalj, whose title was women’s creative director. Her final collection was presented in February with a runway show during London Fashion Week. She joined the company in 2014, succeeding Fiona Cibani, who had held the role for four years.
“The Ports brand is well known for its clean and minimalistic design and close attention to unique details and impeccable craftsmanship. These characteristics have been key for the success our collections have enjoyed since the establishment of the brand,” said Rolando Santana, director of Ports Asia Holdings Limited. “We recognize in Safilo the best partner able to understand our distinctive DNA and translate it into the Ports eyewear collections. We count on Safilo as the best player to partner with, and together we will work to grow the eyewear category and expand it broadly throughout our country.”
Safilo produces its own brand as well as Carrera and Polaroid, and manufactures and distributes for labels ranging from Fendi, Tommy Hilfiger and Jimmy Choo to Max Mara and Marc Jacobs. Safilo, which this year is launching three new licenses, Missoni, Levi’s and David Beckham, in December 2019 acquired a 70 percent stake in Californian digitally native eyewear firm Blenders Eyewear for around $90 million and last February purchased a majority stake in the affordable eyewear brand Privé Revaux for $67.5 million.