EXCLUSIVE: Lapo Elkann’s Italia Independent Eyewear Brand Sold to Modo

MILAN — The Italia Independent brand has a new owner.

Modo Group, an eyewear company founded in New York in 1990 by Alessandro Lanaro that operates the Modo and Eco brands distributed in about 80 countries, has acquired the eyewear label founded in 2006 by Lapo Elkann.

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The value of the transaction amounted to 1 million euros, according to paperwork available on Italy’s bourse watchdog Consob’s website.

The acquisition is limited to the Italia Independent brand, and it does not involve Italia Independent Group SpA, the publicly listed company that operated the eyewear firm until before the transaction was sealed on Tuesday.

“I’m glad that Modo Group acquired the brand Italia Independent. I am sure that Alessandro [Lanaro] and his team, strong of their track record, will be able to evolve the brand I founded and to which I will always remain attached,” Elkann said.

It could not immediately be learned whether the Fiat scion and grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli will remain involved in the brand’s operations in some capacity.

“I have always admired the incredible success of Italia Independent from the very beginning, and we are proud to take charge of its future and to have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the brand’s development,” said Lanaro, founder and chief executive officer of Modo Group.

The company said it plans to boost the eyewear brand’s international footprint, leveraging its group headquarters in Milan, New York and Stockholm.

“Modo Group and Italia Independent have always shared the desire to stand out from the crowd; our aim is to reunite the great community that Italia Independent has created over the years, both in the optical sector and among end consumers,” Lanaro added.

GiovanniLoFaro, CEO of Modo International and Alessandro Lanaro, founder and CEO of Modo Group.
Giovanni Lo Faro, CEO of Modo International, and Alessandro Lanaro, founder and CEO of Modo Group.

The executive will fold in management duties for Italia Independent together with Giovanni Lo Faro, CEO of Modo International, the company that distributes the Modo and Eco brands.

“This acquisition combines two complementary forces that blend well together. Reactivating the energy and the magic of the brand and driving it into lasting growth is an exciting challenge for us,” Lo Faro said.

The brainchild of Elkann, Italia Independent managed to capture the zeitgeist in the first years of its foundation, experimenting with carbon fiber frames and its signature velvety sunglasses. Heavily reliant on its founder’s image and style, it expanded its reach via several collaborations and licensing deals over the years with, among others, Hublot, Adidas, The Walt Disney Company, Billionaire Boys Club, Juventus and Fiat 500. In 2020 it inked a five-year global license with soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for the development and production of eyewear under the player’s CR7 brand.

In 2015 Italia Independent Group SpA was hit by financial troubles, which required the company to restructure by reducing costs and reinforcing the product offering. Despite several efforts from its shareholders, the company eventually filed for a composition with creditors procedure in mid-2022 approved by an Ivrea, Italy Court.

As part of it, Italia Independent Group SpA commenced the search for a potential buyer of its assets, namely the eyewear brand, before being put into liquidation.

Lapo Elkann

Elkann owns 49.25 percent in the Italia Independent Group SpA company, after Creative Ventures Srl acquired a 29.58 interest in Italia Independent Group SpA in 2019. The company is listed on the AIM Alternative Market of Capital segment of the Milan Stock Exchange.

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