By  on March 22, 2010

MILAN — The eyewear sector showcased a strong sense of nostalgia as vintage trends dominated the Mido trade show.

Although there were glimpses of a possible recovery in the fourth quarter, the show’s organizer, ANFAO, or the Italian Optical Goods Manufacturers’ Association, said Italian eyewear production dropped 13.3 percent last year compared with 2008 to almost 2.3 million euros, or $3.1 million at current exchange.

The turmoil appears to be taking its toll. Several sources said eyewear manufacturer Visibilia SpA was in the process of liquidating. Visibilia executives couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Venice-based company was the licensee for Blumarine, Trussardi, Mandarina Duck, Emanuel Ungaro, Jeckerson and Laura Biagiotti. Speculation about the firm spurred several new licensing deals that were announced during the fair.

Italian licensing firm De Rigo Vision SpA will produce eyewear for Blufin brands Blumarine and Blugirl through 2015.

“With Visibilia, we worked profitably for a long period, but given its difficult economic situation we…decided on De Rigo Vision, who is the ideal partner in order to upgrade the international distribution of our eyewear brands,” said Gianguido Tarabini, Blufin chief executive officer.

The new collections will hit stores in November and join a De Rigo Vision portfolio that includes Celine, Chopard, Ermenegildo Zegna, Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others.

Japan-based Charmant Group said it paired with Trussardi to produce and distribute eyewear beginning in spring 2011. The deal means the group will add its first luxury lines — Tru Trussardi and Trussardi 1911 — to existing collaborations with Esprit, Elle, Puma and Lacoste.

In other licensing developments at the fair, which ended its three-day run on March 7 at the Fiera Milano pavilions, U.S. manufacturer Marchon revealed that Diane von Furstenberg’s eyewear collection would launch in Europe at Mido’s 2011 edition following an American debut this month at Vision Expo East.

“We could very well be a leader in a market that is historically European,” said Claudio Gottardi, president of Marchon and ceo of Marchon International.

Marcolin Group is to launch Swarovski sunglasses in January 2011 followed by prescription frames after signing a deal in July.

“When others were cost cutting, we invested in new brands and extended our portfolio to reach different customer targets,” said Maurizio Marcolin, style and licensing officer at Marcolin Group. “Before the crisis hit in 2009, we signed five new brands: Dsquared2, Tod’s, Hogan, John Galliano and Swarovski.”

John Galliano’s first collection unveiled at the fair comprises 18 sunglasses styles — 11 women’s and seven men’s — that blend old-school glamour with sleek silhouettes. Galliano’s signature Gazette print is featured on the women’s frames, alongside styles inspired by flamenco dancers. For men, inspiration is drawn from the Sixties’ Rat Pack, evidenced in slim lower metal frames, with temples in contrasting colors and tinted lenses. Opticals are set to follow next year.

Also at Marcolin, Dsquared2 presented its first optical collection after a successful shades launch last year. Nineteen preppy styles, including retro cat-eye frames, were featured alongside revisited aviator shades with bulky, acetate fronts.

Tom Ford unveiled a one-off project comprising four special edition men’s optical frames based on a minimal Thirties rectangular style, as well as two circular styles in metal. Other special editions included Ermenegildo Zegna’s centennial edition sunglasses, a rose gold aviator engraved with the dates of the house’s 100-year anniversary.

Luxottica-owned Persol celebrated the 50th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s film, “La Dolce Vita,” with two Sixties-inspired acetate styles. In a first for Luxottica at Mido, the group dedicated its entire exhibition space to Persol, a move made at the Silmo eyewear trade show in Paris in 2008.

Fabio d’Angelantonio, chief marketing officer for Luxottica Group, said the move was not a shift in company strategy, but “to celebrate a key iconic brand in our eyewear portfolio that is Italian and the core values of Made in Italy and craftsmanship.”

The rest of the lineup, which includes the luxury brands Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry, was available to view on request.

Safilo’s booth was branded solely by its house line Carrera and showcased its new, lightweight carbon fiber styles — with the remainder of Safilo’s licensee portfolio, including Dior, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Diesel, available for viewing on request.

Giorgio Armani featured shades that had a hippie feel with a Sixties psychedelic color palette. Diesel sunglasses presented playful acetate frames in brilliant turquoise, yellow and pink; Prada’s Postcard series offered neon hues, and Nike unveiled a line of Seventies-inspired sporty shades dubbed “vintage vision” in a retro color palette.

Historic milliner Borsalino presented a new line of sunglasses and opticals in a license deal with Treviso, Italy-based Brands O.I. The men’s and women’s line features Seventies-inspired oversize and vintage styles finished in titanium and molded acetate.

Other entries included Rock & Republic’s chunky frames, typifying a general trend for retro shapes in tone-on-tone acetate.

Gucci showcased oversize Sixties styles and frames with historical bamboo detailing, and Pucci offered its stylish take on archived prints. Missoni sunglasses produced by Allison featured a retro reading chain on Seventies-inspired marbled acetate.

“We reduced prices by 20 percent ahead of our competitors and mirroring those made in the fashion arena,” said Antonio Bortuzzo, ceo of Allison. “Overall, the market wants better quality at the same level of price.”

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