A style from the new Sportmax eyewear collection licensed to Marcolin Group.

MILAN — Max Mara’s sister label Sportmax has signed a five-year licensing agreement with Italian eyewear manufacturer Marcolin for the development, production and global distribution of the brand’s eyewear collections. The deal — which was signed in January — runs to Dec. 31, 2023.

“We are enthusiastic to work with Marcolin Group and we believe this deal encompasses a strategic value in the development of the Sportmax label.…We are confident that the partnership with Marcolin will secure a global increase of the eyewear collection, in keeping with the Sportmax values,” Luigi Maramotti, vice president of the board at Max Mara Fashion Group, said in a statement.

“We are firmly convinced that Marcolin Group will be able to craft an innovative and high-tech eyewear collection, celebrating the know-how of Made in Italy,” Andrea Simonazzi, a Max Mara Group spokesman, told WWD.

The first collection will bow for spring and the first designs, encompassing optical frames and sunglasses, will be unveiled at the upcoming edition of eyewear trade show Mido, running Feb. 23 to 25 in Milan. A selection of four styles will reach Sportmax flagships, as well as a number of select opticians in Italy, France and the U.K., in April.

Max Mara Group and Marcolin said they plan to roll out the lineup’s global wholesale distribution in September. “We plan to set up the distribution with the best independent opticians worldwide. They will rely on dedicated corners and, in the future, on capsule collections. Retailers will also take part in special projects with the brand,” Massimo Renon, Marcolin’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mail.

The executive underscored the company will leverage its extensive distribution network, which includes 11 directly operated subsidiaries and four ventures with the Rivoli Group, Moendi, Ginko Group and Sover-M for the Middle East, Mexico, China and Russia, respectively.

“The brand has a global distribution and we expect to reach the same goals with the [eyewear] category,” Simonazzi noted. “Sportmax has pioneered the total look offering since the Seventies and we consider glasses to be a fundamental accessory to complete the outfit, answering our client’s needs,” Simonazzi explained. He added that they plan to install dedicated corners inside each Sportmax store selling the eyewear collection.

The collection — retailing for between $355 and $455 — will include a diamond-shaped style, which features a one-piece lens laying on the frames.

“The first Sportmax [eyewear] collection will incorporate the energy and dynamism of the brand and interpret the sporty and trendy attitude the label is synonymous with,” Renon said. “Marcolin Group has been at the forefront of research and development of innovative and design products. Sportmax perfectly embodies this vision and it represents the ideal partner to exalt these unique skills.” The executive described the partnership with Max Mara Group as a “chance of enrichment” for the eyewear manufacturer based in Longarone, in the Veneto region.

A style from the new Sportmax eyewear collection licensed to Marcolin Group.

A style from the Sportmax eyewear collection licensed to Marcolin Group.  Courtesy Photo.

The Sportmax collections of sun and optical frames were previously manufactured by U.K.-based eyewear brand Cutler and Gross.

Asked about their openness to consider a possible licensing agreement for the Max Mara label as well, Simonazzi declined comment, while Renon demurred, saying, “Today we are focused on developing an eyewear collection which interprets the Sportmax creative codes and personality, down to its details. We will commit to transfer to the Max Mara Group our constant pursuance of excellent quality in terms of products, blended with the passion and dedication which has distinguished us.” Max Mara’s eyewear collections are licensed to Safilo with an agreement running until Dec. 31, 2023, which was first inked in 1997.

Marcolin’s portfolio includes licensed brands such as Tom Ford, Bally, Moncler, Ermenegildo Zegna, Roberto Cavalli and Dsquared2, to name a few, along with the Marcolin Web labels. In January Marcolin dove into the specialty eyewear market, signing a distribution deal with Los Angeles-based brand Barton Perreira.