Mido president Giovanni Vitaloni.
MILAN—Organizers of Mido, the major international optical fair to be held Feb. 3-5, 2024, are anticipating a larger exhibition and solid international attendance at the event next year, but report they have also been working actively to initiate a broader mandate to help elevate the optical industry in Italy and around the world, to advance messages about design, technology, sustainability and leadership development among women in an expansion of its programs. In an interview with VMAIL, Mido president Giovanni Vitaloni shared some of those plans, noting, “We have a clear identity and believe that Mido is really a central engine for our industry.

"Many of our activities reflect the view of Mido, as well as that of ANFAO (Italy’s eyewear manufacturers association) plus those of our partners, which enables us to be an accelerator of ideas for the companies and creators and customers of the eyewear industry. While we are working on the best possible scenario for our exhibitors to show their products and launch their collections and projects, we also feel the need to reflect what’s happening in the culture and our society to bring new ideas and technologies forward.”

Vitaloni shared that Mido 2024 will attract at least 15 percent more visitors and exhibitors than the last edition in February 2023, which reached 1,000 exhibitors and attendance of 35,000 as reported by VMAIL. He said, “We are returning to the numbers of the pre-COVID years. There will be return of exhibitors who didn’t attend 2023, a return of exhibitors and visitors from the Far East, who were not able to attend in the past years. We will go back to occupying seven halls, instead of the six of the last edition. In our opinion, Mido is not only the best hub where projects and products are presented, but also to organize a lot of cultural activities that inspire opticians and manufacturers.”

Two key initiatives, where much work has taken place outside of the show and one to be reflected at the Mido fair and conference in a larger way than last year, is Mido’s involvement in monitoring what’s happening both in artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainability.

The bold images of Mido’s 2024 ad campaign was created using artificial intelligence (AI) and this directly links to a key theme of the 2024 edition. "In our industry, artificial intelligence is mainly used in the development of products, glasses but also lenses. And we used it to develop our campaign. AI is becoming increasingly important and helps make things better. Of course, we have to combine it with the taste, style and creativity of the human brain. But it speeds up processes enormously, and you can see it in every industry. Also in the treatment of visual disorders, in research on eye diseases. AI is really a keyword,” Vitaloni stated.

Sustainability remains high on Mido's agenda. "We have been working on sustainability for a few years now, said Vitaloni. “For us, this is not just a trend: it is extremely important to lead the future with a sustainable approach.”

He said, “At ANFAO, we have been working over the past year on an important certification program that we will launch at Mido 2024. It's called Certified Sustainable Eyewear. Manufacturers can apply for this certification to explain the sustainable process behind each individual project and product. So that everyone knows how, when and where the products were made.

"It is an important tool for all companies that deal with ethics and transparency. It is essential for us that the industry follows a path that has as little impact on the environment as possible. So less transport, less stocks, faster production based on real needs, without extras."

He continued, “A sustainable approach to the process is crucial. It's not a trend, it's the present. We need to do these things now, not tomorrow." The Mido show itself is certified as a sustainable trade fair. “As a major international event, Mido has a very high responsibility in terms of its impact on the environment. For that reason, it is particularly sensitive to all those activities that can reduce the consequences that the implementation of such a large event may have on the environment and the community.

"Events like Mido that cater to the participation of many attendees generate a consistent environmental and social impact. Trying to limit this impact is not only an opportunity but also a duty, just as it is incumbent upon the organizer to increase the awareness of exhibitors, suppliers and visitors, and turn them into ambassadors for sustainability," Vitaloni said.

With that mission, Mido is taking a position to share the path toward ISO 20121:2012 certification, which attests to the sustainable management of large events. All Mido exhibitors can apply to participate in the Certified Sustainable Eyewear (CSE) Award, created by Mido in partnership with ANFAO and Certottica, that assesses sustainability in the eyewear industry internationally.

Recycled materials, reduced consumption in the production and distribution processes, maximization of the supply chain, elimination of waste, degree of recyclability, use of renewable resources and any certifications already achieved, are some of the criteria the jury will use to determine the winners of the CSE award’s 2nd edition.

The award is divided into six categories: CSE Award Sunglasses Europe, and Rest of the World, CSE Award Frames Europe, and Rest of the World, CSE Award Cases Europe and Rest of the World. To participate, entrants must complete the online form available at this link in the “Take Part” section of the website.

Mido and ANFAO are also continuing the initiative Empowering Women’s Leadership, which started with several special sessions held at Mido 2023 in the Ottica Club, as VMAIL reported.

Vitaloni noted, “In partnership with Fondazione Marisa Bellisario, the most important one in Italy for female managers, we have all the major players in our industry with manufacturing plants here and this will continue to support leadership roles. This will again be a visible program at Mido in February."

Barbara Salimbeni, board member of the ANFAO general council and vice president, global trade marketing for Marchon Eyewear, has been leading the Empowering Optical Women Leadership Program. She told VMAIL, “This has been an incredibly rewarding journey so far. This program marks a significant milestone in the optical industry in Italy. We know that, while the eyewear sector has historically had a high female workforce, there is a noticeable absence of women in managerial and leadership roles. This is a challenge that requires immediate attention, moving beyond individual company initiatives—that are of course very important—to approach it as an industry-wide system too.”

She added, “One of our primary objectives is to provide education and support for female managers. We firmly believe that this is essential for personal and professional growth. Our approach is focused on self-reflection, understanding and embracing the unique leadership style and strengths that women bring to the table. In collaboration with Fondazione Marisa Bellisario, and with the expertise of Fondazione Libellula, we're excited to announce a robust training program.

"This program isn’t limited to female managers; it also welcomes their male counterparts. Our goal is to promote inclusive leadership. The training will equip participants with essential tools, frameworks and best practices to navigate workplace challenges, enhance their ability to lead and influence effectively, and promote the use of inclusive language. The program will be conducted in a hybrid format, combining in-person workshops with online coaching sessions.”

Salimbeni said, “Mido 2024 we’ll shine a spotlight on the outcomes of our training initiatives. We’ll be sharing experiences and insights with special guests and there is much more to come. It’s a journey we are fully committed to, and we're eager to make a significant impact in the industry.”

Finally, applications are still being accepted for Mido 2024’s BESTORE award, divided in two categories: design and innovation. Details for those are posted here, and applications will be accepted until Jan. 9, 2024.

Mido visitors can register to attend on the home page. They can also take advantage of the services organizers are preparing to facilitate access to the show, among these free trains for opticians from major Italian cities, shuttles from the Milan station and special travel packages for visitors coming from the U.S., Central and South America and Canada. Details are posted for those options here.