Fendi, Thélios Ink Partnership, Aim to Elevate Eyewear Category

·4 min read

ROME — Fendi and Thélios share the goal of making the fashion brand a force in eyewear. The two companies, both part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, have signed an exclusive partnership for the design, development, production and distribution of the Rome-based brand’s eyewear collections.

Fendi’s first collection produced by Thélios, comprising sunglasses and optical frames, will bow for fall 2021 and will be available starting today in Fendi stores and online, as well as within Thélios’ selective distribution network this month. Fendi’s eyewear was previously produced by Safilo from 2014, and before then by Marchon.

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Serge Brunschwig, chairman and chief executive officer of Fendi, said in an exclusive interview that the company shares with Thélios “a commitment to Italian craftsmanship, creativity and innovation.” He underscored the importance of building solid personal relations — added assets in this sector, he said. The agreement with Thélios is also based on this relationship, Brunschwig explained.

“We are working together with great confidence,” said the executive, emphasizing Thélios’ focus on design, which will help deliver innovative products. “We are very happy with the reaction of clients, and there is a desire to expand the category that is highly promising.”

Fendi also plans to expand the optical segment with Thélios. “You can make a fashion statement also through optical frames,” Brunschwig said.

“We are very happy about this union of two Made in Italy companies and it’s the first time for Thélios with an Italian brand,” said Sara Osculati, chief brand and product officer of Thélios. “We are aligned in the appreciation of the craftsmanship and industrial savoir faire of Italian manufacturing.”

Osculati said the companies are “animated by the same will to elevate the category of eyewear, with a clear recipe of unique designs, quality of products and choice of materials, techniques and artisanal and visual merchandising.”

The collection, which was teased with the debut of Kim Jones as artistic director of Fendi’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women earlier this year, was introduced to retailers in June with dedicated visual merchandising at Fendi’s headquarters, in the striking Palazzo della Civiltà in Rome. The Fendi codes are to be transferred into the points of sale, which will be very selective, said Osculati, to allow “customers to live the Fendi experience.”

Selective distribution is a “very clear pillar,” she continued, adding that the idea is to leverage “the network we have built with other LVMH brands, with top down investments.”

Thélios began operating in 2018, a joint venture between LVMH, which has a 51 percent stake, with storied Italian eyewear-maker Marcolin owning the remainder. LVMH also owns a 10 percent stake in Marcolin. Since its inception Thélios has grown to produce and distribute eyewear collections for Celine; Loewe; Kenzo; Fenty; Fred; Berluti, and Rimowa. In addition to Dior, it is also launching Stella McCartney’s collection for spring. Thélios is also unveiling a new brand for men called 9.81, a reference to the universal constant of gravity (9.81 Newtons).

The general consensus is that Thélios will gradually produce eyewear collections for most if not all the brands under the LVMH umbrella.

The core Fendi eyewear price range will not change, but there will be “a stretch on the top range” of glasses priced at more than 500 euros, while the 200-euro range will help approach new customers, in the optical category in particular, “which has been very important for Thélios,” Osculati said. “We want to have the same codes and refinement also in the optical segment.”

The first collection comprises about 50 models for men and women, but there are plans to integrate the category in Fendi’s capsules and collaborations, leveraging its position and different pricing. A number of Fendi signature elements appear on the designs, from the FF logo to the Havana shade and the geometric cuts. A cool cap showed sunglasses incorporated in the visor.

Fendi’s eyecap - Credit: FABRIZIO MARTINEZ
Fendi’s eyecap - Credit: FABRIZIO MARTINEZ

FABRIZIO MARTINEZ

Osculati underscored the importance of the year 2021, with the arrival of Dior last January, and now Fendi, which will help Thélios reach “another level.”

Thélios was expanded last July to accommodate the arrival of the additional collections. Production spans over 194,400 square feet, and Thélios employs 800 people, with 600 of them in Italy.

Osculati said the company has hired 150 new employees since the beginning of the year, mostly in Italy, especially in the Longarone and Padova sites. “We confirm our investment in Italy, this is very important for us.”

Fendi and Thélios are also working to advance sustainability in the eyewear industry. The latter in February said it had partnered with Mazzucchelli 1849, a leading acetate sheet manufacturer, and with specialty materials provider Eastman — a pioneer in molecular recycling — planning to employ acetate that is recyclable in 2022. “We are also working to find new solutions in terms of packaging, materials and upcycling,” Brunschwig said.

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