Ellesse is making a stateside comeback.
London-based Pentland Group Ltd., which owns the brand’s trademark, has named newly formed Ellesse NA Inc. as the exclusive licensee for footwear, accessories and apparel in the U.S. market.
Tennis legend Chris Evert, who wore the brand exclusively on the tennis circuit, is a minority shareholder in the new company and will be involved in design and marketing.
“When we thought about the brand, she was the first person to come to mind,” said Ellesse NA CEO Byron Hero.
Evert, who is serving as a tennis commentator for ESPN2 during this week’s U.S. Open, will host a launch event with Ellesse on Friday in New York.
The brand plans to hit the market with a line of technical tennis footwear in November 2012, said Hero. It will initially be targeted at pro shops and tennis clubs.
In the future, a companion lifestyle collection is planned for both men and women, with footwear projected to account for roughly 40 percent of overall business. A string of Ellesse shops is also planned to launch in 2013, said Hero.
Pentland USA President Sonny Shar said now was the right time for a relaunch of the label, which had been absent in the U.S. market for the past eight years.
“It is still a recognized brand,” Shar said, noting that Ellesse has enjoyed healthy distribution in Europe and Asia over the past several years.
Prior to the launch of the footwear collection from Ellesse NA, Ellesse Ltd., a subsidiary of Pentland Group, will introduce its own heritage series of retro-inspired looks. Set to hit U.S. stores for spring ’12, the line will be targeted at athletic specialty retailers. The shoes are part of a global collection currently available overseas.