The 3 Definitive Trade Fairs Shaping Trends & Innovations in Optics and Eyewear in Europe
Eyewear exists beyond the surface-level style guides, which change from season to season in a flash and drive repeat sales. The eyewear industry, especially on the backend, is undergoing a slow, but steady overall transformation as many of the processes are updated, reinvented and automated in a meaningful way.
Perhaps the biggest example of the Industry 4.0 influence is the use of 3D printing, which creates a door towards user-specific, custom products. Consumers have been rebelling against established mass production for a good while and 3D printing gives consumers the freedom to create frames meant for your face. This also applies to printing lenses. Now that distribution methods have also evolved through online ordering platforms, the customer is in charge of everything.
What helps here are the bevy of tools helping customers achieve the perfect look, whether it’s on trend or not. The proliferation of software solutions means that customers can try out glasses in a virtual environment – a useful tool for companies that may not be able to place designs in optic shops and show displays. There are also apps that make it possible to measure a person’s individual prescription by just using their phones.
The introduction of technology also expands to the eyewear itself, which becomes alive with new functionalities. Of course, we have to mention the role of sustainability in all of this. We’re now seeing good indicators. The rise in customization and 3D printing leads to a decrease in overall mass production and the volume of materials being used in the manufacturing of frames.
We have selected three trend-pushing trade fairs in Europe that are on top of new technologies as well as designs. Perhaps best known of all four is SILMO Paris, held at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Parc d'Expositions every year. The trade fair services the fashion industry just as much as it does the scientific industry behind the manufacturing of lenses. From raw materials to processing tech to cutting-edge advancements, you discover it here! The Absolutely Fabulous Laboratory gathers optometrists and optometrists for the next generation of solutions. SILMO ACADEMY has planned a series of high-profile lectures. Of course, that’s only scratching the surface.
To the south, over in Milan, Italy, MIDO performs a similar function. The trade fair opens the year with the hottest designs and new collections from household brands. It’s a crucial meeting place for buyers operating within the fashion industry. At the same time, organisers create favourable conditions for optometrists and ophthalmologists to exchange valuable experience and acquaint themselves with recent research.
Similar to SILMO Paris, MIDO invests in a varied exhibition layout full of thematic areas and a diverse support programme. There’s the Fashion district, Lenses, Design Lab, Lab Academy, Tech, MORE!, Press Village and FAiR East. All together they embrace the full breadth of products and solutions across the entire value chain. This characteristic is also why MIDO has been a key meeting point with powerful buyers travelling from Asia. China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea are regular participants at MIDO.
The German trade fair, opti, stands a little more firmly in the scientific side of the industry. There are eyewear collections on display but they pale in comparison to the technological displays. What makes opti a special entry on this list is that it doesn’t stay put in just one location, but changes its host every single year, which helps bring in new exhibitors. The exhibition plan features 11 theme zones – frames, lenses, contact lenses, refraction and diagnostics, IT, machines, workshop equipment, shop fitting and decoration, trade products and accessories, business equipment and buying syndicates. The support programme targets challenges with adopting sustainable practices and new strategies in the management of myopia.
These three chief trade fairs capture the entire essence of the industry from fashion to the science to the manufacturing technologies that make eyewear possible to even exist.