When I look at the calendar, 2023 is only a handful of weeks old, yet, my calendar has been very full of travel, both here and abroad. I recently made my annual excursion to Milan for MIDO and am very glad I did.
MIDO, is the giant Italian optical trade fair, held now every February at Rho Fiera Exhibition just outside of Milan, Italy. MIDO is not just the largest optical trade show in Italy, it is the largest optical trade fair in the world. Picture the largest Vision Expo you’ve been to and multiply by four. MIDO is where optical companies from around the world gather to share every aspect of the optical business. At MIDO you will find acetate companies, hinge companies, case companies, cloth companies, lens, companies, display companies, equipment companies, lab companies, and of course just about every frame company from the smallest artisan to the multinational behemoths.
While the world hasn’t fully recovered from the COVID pandemic, the worldwide supply chain crises, or the inflation explosion of every material need, MIDO was practically back to its former size with 6 exhibition halls this year showcasing products from around the world. While Asian countries are still a bit behind in opening up their borders to travel, many Asian companies managed to exhibit at MIDO 2023 for the first time since 2019.
MIDO 2023 featured over 1,000 vendors this year. While that is still off the pre-pandemic number of vendors, that number easily eclipses what we see in New York or Las Vegas by many multiples. So too do the number of visitors. This year’s MIDO saw the attendance of over 35,000 optical professionals. Those are some pretty serious numbers.
MIDO however is more than numbers. It is a breathtaking showcase of everything optical. The large multinational brands have booths that can’t really be called booths. They are exhibition showcases that are as vastly large as they are incredibly beautiful. As one moves from hall to hall, there is a feast for the eyes in how companies are given far more latitude to exhibit their brand than you will see here at the US shows. The booth spaces range from the standard exhibition look we are all familiar with to bold and beautifully crafted showcases of brand originality and expression.
One of the favorite spots for most opticians at MIDO is the area called the Lab Academy. Here is a continuous area of small identical booth spaces marked by a centerpiece poster artwork for each brand. The Lab Academy is where you find the newest designers and most creative eyewear. While there are some very established brands showcasing their designs in the Lab Academy, most of the vendors who occupy this coveted space are the future of eyewear.
It is my firm belief that every optical shop owner, optician, and optometrist, wanting to further their personal or corporate brand needs to visit a foreign trade show like MIDO to see the depth of creativity not only in the design of products but in display. You will walk away with a new appreciation of what our industry is capable of and what you can do in your own market.
In addition to the over 1 million square feet of exhibitions, MIDO is also an event that rewards optical companies who are taking steps to help our planet with the MIDO CSE (Certified Sustainable Eyewear) Awards.
These are just a few images from the show, that don’t begin to do the three-day even justice, but will give you some insight into the size and scope of what MIDO is. MIDO is well worth the trip and I hope you will join me there, on February 3rd, 4th, and 5th 2024.