Magnificent MIDO 2024

between halls of MIDO 2024

A number of years back a friend suggested that seeing all that is wonderful about Vision Expo doesn’t begin to hold a hold a candle to the big foreign trade shows, especially MIDO, the Italian optical trade show event held every February in Milan, Italy. So, I booked a ticket to Italy and as things would have it, never looked back. MIDO blew my mind!

MIDO still blows my mind. MIDO continues to hold dominance over so many other optical trade shows. Not only for its timing but its sheer size and scope. Again, I always thought of Vision Expo, especially Vision Expo East as this magnificent giant. While Vision Expo continues to be the dominant optical event in the United States, MIDO eclipses our show in grandeur and real estate.

Frenk Eyewear at MIDO 2024 Spektre Eyewear at MIDO 2024

The Upper Exhibition Hall of The Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City is 410,000 square feet (38,000 m2). While very impressive, each of the twenty halls of Fiera Milano Rho outside Milan Italy are 185,670 square feet (17,250 m2). MIDO does not occupy all 20 halls, but I want to give our readers an idea of just how big this exhibition complex is. The main concourse connecting these 20 halls is over 1 km long. It’s a hike just to get inside any of the 7 halls that MIDO occupies every year. That amounts to practically 1,300,000 square feet (120,750 m2) of everything optical.

Pugnale Eyewear at MIDO 2024 Bust Out Eyewear booth MIDO 2024

At 5’8” tall, I will be the first to proclaim that size isn’t the measure of greatness, but MIDO marks its claim to being the largest optical trade fair in the world with more than steps taken every day. Let’s start with exhibitors. There were over 1,200 exhibitors in the 7 halls that make MIDO. Sure, a handful of the big multinational companies spread out their booths as if they were all Texas ranches, but for the other 1,190+ exhibitors it wasn’t the real estate they took up that made their booths, it was the beauty and creativity afforded them that made so many of them breathtakingly beautiful.

gast eyewear at MIDO 2024

Unlike our home shows, companies are allowed to go vertical without a decorating company or a union boss telling them they can’t. There are no rules about aiming your own lights or plugging in your own coffee maker. Almost every booth offered water, some sort of espresso drink, prosecco, or beer throughout the day all three days of the show. There are no rules prohibiting anyone from bringing in your own beverages. Try finding a cappuccino at the Javits Center. I believe there is just one vendor at VEE and a line that will almost guarantee to make you late for your next appointment. However, back to the booths…

MIDO 2024

MIDO reported over 1,200 vendors took part in MIDO 2024. This is the first year since the COVID epidemic that most of the Asian companies have been allowed to travel by their respective countries, and they showed up in huge numbers. MIDO has an Asian Pavilion. One of the 7 halls is dedicated to Asian optical companies. Aisle after aisle of optical frame companies, case companies, cloth companies, parts companies, tool companies, and more. These companies are certainly not restricted to having to be in that one pavilion. There are many Asian optical companies in every hall.

Lab Academy MIDO 2024 - KALOPSIA Eyewear

Then there is my favorite area of any optical show anywhere in the world, the renowned Lab Academy. The Lab Academy is sold out every year as it is a long row of mostly newer independent brands showcasing their lines in small uniform booths containing one main table with a large sign of the brand and fenced in by two smaller tables on either side. If you’ve watched any of our Facebook Live videos from the last several years, we’ve gone to great lengths to cover the Lab Academy and show just how special the area truly is.

The Lab Academy - MIDO 2024

Over 40,000 attendees were reported to have passed through the gates of MIDO over the 3-day show. That’s a lot of optical professionals. That’s what makes MIDO the world’s largest optical show. There are 195 countries in the world today. MIDO had visitors from 160 of them. According to MIDO President, President Giovanni Vitaloni. “Throughout the exhibit area, we witnessed active sales and keen interest by buyers who were here thanks, in part, to our partnership with ITA-Italian Trade Agency, where Made in Italy is synonymous with quality, excellence, and transparency. The presence of the entire supply chain ensured vitality and diversity of supply and demand, validating MIDO as the only industry show with this characteristic.”

Sustainability was also in the spotlight with the presentation of the CSE: Certified Sustainable Eyewear program – voluntary international certification of product sustainability – registered and promoted by ANFAO. Time was also allotted to the current hot topic of inclusion with the conference on inclusive language in the Empowering Optical Women Leadership Program, during the presentation of the results achieved at one year since the inception of the program that supports women in leadership positions in the eyewear industry, organized by ANFAO, sponsored by Fondazione Marisa Bellisario and supported by the Ente Bilaterale Occhialeria. “Sustainability and inclusion are two topics dear to ANFAO and we made that clear this year with the presentation of two key projects that highlight the actual, visible efforts of the Association on a daily basis in the eyewear industry aimed at improving it and making it even more competitive,” stated ANFAO President Lorraine Berton.

Woodys Eyewear at MIDO 2024

MIDO rest area

MIDO is so big you are rushed to try and see it all in during the 3-day event. Remember, Vision Expo, as big as our shows are, is truly tough to see everything in 3 days and MIDO is 3 times the size of our shows. While I am a big fan of Vision Expo, MIDO takes optical trade shows to an entire different level. I would truly advise any shop owner, any optician, and any optometrist who wants to truly understand just how big and how broad our industry is to make the trip to MIDO. I would advise any shop owner, any shop owner, any optician, and any optometrist who wants to understand how to do it differently, how to do it better, and how to surpass their competition to make the trip to Milan and see how different MIDO is for themselves.

nighttime shot of The MilanDuomo - MIDO 2024

Join The Optical Journal at MIDO 2025, taking place February 8-10 next year. You will be glad you did.

Erkers 1879 Eyewear - The Optical Journal