Waiting for MIDO 2024: Giovanni Vitaloni
Tomorrow, Saturday February 3, the largest international eyewear show will open its doors at Fieramilano Rho: MIDO. Until Monday, February 5, the spotlight of the entire industry will be on the Milanese capital. This 52^ edition will have business, sustainability, beauty, passion and inclusion as drivers.
Let's find out from the words of its President, Giovanni Vitaloni, all the news of the trade show.
What role does MIDO play within the global panorama of the optics/eyewear industry?
MIDO is the most important international eyewear trade show and this gives us huge responsibility as the expectations of exhibitors, visitors and all professionals in the supply chain are extremely high; we have to do our very best to ensure they are not disappointed. There is another aspect that should be noted, which is the timing of our event as compared with others in the sector. Organising MIDO for early February is a strategic move as it means our event is staged in a moment when the companies are presenting their collections and latest innovations for the coming year. The commercial agreements struck at MIDO act as a barometer of performance for the year ahead, and this makes MIDO a must-go event while also investing us with a great duty that we are proud to bear as we become the centre of the global eyewear world for three full days.
What are the key words for MIDO 2024?
Guiding our way in the organisation of this 52nd edition are the following words: Business, Sustainability, Beauty, Passion and Inclusion.
MIDO was created to promote business dealings and bring together supply and demand in the industry. This is our main mission and, as I said earlier, also our biggest responsibility. Each year, thousands of buyers, distributors, opticians and eyewear professionals from all over the world visit MIDO, thanks also to the invaluable collaboration of the ICE Agency (Italian Trade Agency) which introduces high-profile international buyers. The exhibiting companies know that at MIDO they can strike important business deals and we try to help this by supplying all the logistic and organisational support possible. For example, this year we have activated a new free tool on the App, designed specially to help exhibitors increase their opportunities of creating leads, better manage their Return on Investment, personalise the experience for visitors to their stand and make it more targeted, as well as analysing its performance. And let’s not forget the digital platform where companies can propose their new products all year round, meeting buyers and operators online.
The second term, sustainability, is now a “beacon” that guides us in all our decisions. It is also a demand imposed by the market because now the public as the end user makes choices based on this criteria, and we cannot ignore it. To this end, with ANFAO and CERTOTTICA we have worked on the “CSE - Certified Sustainable Eyewear” programme, which we will present at MIDO, an initiative certifying the sustainability of products. The programme will certify the sustainability both of individual components of eyewear and the final product. The General Rules and criteria are based on ISO standard 14024 “Environmental Labelling”. For us, sustainability is not just a word; we are committed to making it a concrete action in all aspects of the eyewear industry.
The third word, beauty, is a constant theme of our event: we want to surprise visitors with new set-ups that strike the emotions, making the visit an unforgettable experience. But beauty is also one of the central themes of our MIDdays Talk sessions, which will be held at the OTTICLUB and led by sociologist Francesco Morace. He will be talking to individuals who have made beauty their “mantra”, and whose stories are a source of inspiration.
Passion is what we put into the organisation of this huge event every day, and what we see in the professionals who participate in MIDO every year. We try to stimulate this passion at all times, organising moments of discussion and debate, because it is from exchanging ideas with others that improvements can be made.
Finally, this year will focus strongly on inclusion, in conferences such as that on “Empowering Optical Women Leadership” and we have already “talked” about the issue through the renovation of our website, now accessible to everyone even prior to the European regulation deadlines. It is a small gesture but just the beginning of a path that we have taken in this direction. There are many other key words that could be used to describe MIDO 2024, such as innovation, technology, and future, but we invite you to come and visit us to discover them all!
The 2024 edition has an extra pavilion compared to the previous edition. How will the exhibition space be organised in light of this change?
Yes, compared with last year, we have added another pavilion, returning to the original 7 of the pre-Covid era, to welcome over 1,200 exhibitors expected this year. Meanwhile, there will be 8 exhibition areas, the same as last year, but some have been expanded in size. The Fashion District, the temple of top players, will take up all of Pavilion 1 and part of Pavilions 2, 4 and 6, all linked together. Pavilion 1 will also host the OTTICLUB, the venue for conferences and MIDO events. Pavilions 2 and 4 will host the Design and Design Tech areas. In Pavilion 2 we have also reserved a large space for the Academy, in constant growth, which will this year welcome 85 exhibitors, and the Start-up area with 16 new companies. Pavilion 3, as usual, will be the realm of lenses, while the nearby pavilions 5 and 7 will be dedicated to Asian exhibitors in the FAiR East area. Last but not least, Pavilion 6 will host MIDO Tech, the largest international exhibition area dedicated to machines, raw materials and components, and some hub areas for meetings such as the Press Lounge, the ANFAO reserved area and the ICE Agency lounge.
Among MIDO’s priorities is the desire to “generate culture”: how will you develop this aspect? Will there be any innovations?
If, by culture, we mean the sharing of ideas, projects, strategies and prospects of international eyewear, I can confirm that we deal with this all year round because we are promoters of initiatives, alongside ANFAO and other prestigious partners, aimed at diffusing best practices of the industry and raising awareness among professionals on topics of general interest. During the 3-day fair, we see culture in the squares, stands, corridors... a real melting pot of ideas, visions and cultures, which are all different. And, above all, we see it in the area dedicated to events: we personally try to promote debate and dialogue by organising meetings, conferences and seminars for all the professionals and inviting speakers from the most varied fields to share their experience. In this sense, this year’s innovation lies in the previously-mentioned MIDday Talks with Francesco Morace, who will talk to individuals who seemingly have nothing to do with the eyewear industry but who we think can inspire all those who choose to listen to them. These include the noted Look-maker and author Diego Dalla Palma, the chef and maître chocolatier Ernst Knam, and architects Mara Servetto and Ico Migliore. At OTTICLUB, we will also dedicated space to the concrete aspects of the various professions within the industry, through sessions that we have called Market Insight; these analyse the market from different points of view - from trends to purchase drivers and so on. Not an innovation as such, but an event that we are bringing back as they were so successful last year, are the HOW TO? sessions, focusing on everyday activity in optical stores. These sessions will talk about communication, digital marketing, fashion and trends, etc. Finally, there will of course be a space dedicated to medical-scientific issues with some round tables on long-sightedness, short-sightedness, and the promotion of dialogue between patients, optical stores and ophthalmologists.
In the last few months, much interest has been expressed in the programme supporting women as leaders in the eyewear industry (Empowering Optical Women Leadership), set up together with ANFAO and the Fondazione Bellisario, and launched one year ago at MIDO 2023. What point is the project at?
This is exactly what I was talking about when I said that MIDO pursues culture all year round! The project of female empowerment in the eyewear industry is connected to a theme that we care deeply about: inclusion, which still needs a lot of work at all levels. The project that we are carrying out with ANFAO and the Fondazione Bellisario is aimed at creating awareness, and promoting a different vision of company culture from the inside, because it is only in this way that we can dismantle preconceptions and wipe out inequality. It will be interesting to hear the first results of this project one year after its launch right here at MIDO.
What do you expect from this MIDO?
More than expectation, I hope to increase the visitor numbers on 2023 (Ed. note: 35,000 from 130 countries) and satisfy as far as possible the expectations of the 1,200 exhibitors. Certainly, I expect to receive the usual shot of energy, a driving force that emerges and spreads through the exhibition spaces, which helps us to tackle the year ahead with tenacity and courage.
See you tomorrow at MIDO!